As much of the world has been confined to their homes for the past few months, many have turned to art to get through these tough times. Whether it’s watching a classic film or documentary on Netflix, taking a virtual tour of far-flung museums or tuning in to a live-streamed theatre show, artists have provided some much-needed comfort, levity and food for thought – something they will undoubtedly continue to do long after the pandemic is over.
Since 2002, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative has been dedicated to supporting young artists in the fields of dance, film, literature, theatre and more by pairing them up with accomplished mentors. Protégés and mentors each receive a grant from Rolex, and spend the next two years engaged in a tailor-made mentorship programme.
The programme’s 2020–2021 protégés and mentors span disciplines ranging from the visual arts to theatre, with celebrated names such as Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton) and director Spike Lee taking on the role of mentors. Here’s what you need to know about the four protégés, who are set to become major forces in their respective fields in the years to come.
1. The filmmaker: Kyle Bell
Native American filmmaker Kyle Bell’s mission statement is simple yet profound: to tell the stories of his people. Since the start of his film career in 2015, the 33-year-old’s works have screened at festivals including the Seattle International Film Festival and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Bell was also named a 2019 Sundance Indigenous Program Fellow, an initiative by the organisation to support indigenous filmmakers. Bell’s works include the short documentaries Dig It If You Can, Defend the Sacred and The Third, and he will be mentored by lauded film director Spike Lee.
2. The theatre maven: Whitney White
33-year-old Whitney White – a director, musician, composer and actor – has made a name for herself as a highly sought-after theatre practitioner in the United States. Her five-part musical exploration of Shakespeare’s women and ambition Reach for It is currently under commission with the American Repertory Theater in Boston, and she has previously directed a version of Othello for the stage. Another of White’s works – What to Send Up When It Goes Down, a play about racialised violence – received critical acclaim by The New York Times. As part of the mentorship programme, White will be paired with British director Phyllida Lloyd, whose work includes directing both the musical and film versions of Mama Mia! and the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady.
3. The visual artist: Camila Rodríguez Triana
Colombian visual artist and filmmaker Camila Rodríguez Triana’s works portray intimate relationships in everyday spaces, offering up emotional and resonant creations that encourage deeper reflection on the part of the viewer. The 35-year-old’s art has been exhibited at both solo and group shows in South America and Europe. As the founder of Heka Films SAS, Triana has helmed several acclaimed features that explore the limits between documentary and fiction. She will be mentored by Carrie Mae Weems, the American visual artist whose prolific body of work spans film, video, performance and much more.
4. The storyteller: Agustina San Martín
Hailing from Argentina, Agustina San Martín wears many hats: director, screenwriter, cinematographer, colourist and film editor. San Martín recently completed the feature film To Kill the Beast (Matar a la bestia) and has additionally gained much recognition for her bold and multifaceted body of work – including winning a Short Films Special Mention at the 72nd Cannes Festival for Monster God (2019). As the open category protégé, the 28-year-old will work with composer, actor and playwright extraordinaire Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is ideally positioned to help her realise her goal to “nurture and broaden her creative universes”.