The young artists, named as protégés for the 2014-2015 cycle of the Rolex Arts Initiative, have each been personally selected by the mentor in their discipline – Olafur Eliasson (visual arts), Alejandro González Iñárritu (film), Michael Ondaatje (literature), Alexei Ratmansky (dance), Kaija Saariaho (music), Jennifer Tipton (theatre) and Peter Zumthor (architecture) – after a global talent search and selection process conducted by Rolex.
The protégés – from Paraguay, Portugal, Mexico, Bulgaria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the U.S. and Israel – are adding substantially to the diversity of the programme. So far, 36 young artists from nearly every continent have benefited from a year's mentoring by leading artists, including David Hockney, Mira Nair, Jessye Norman, Youssou N'Dour, Martin Scorsese and Wole Soyinka.
The seven new protégés, chosen from 25 finalists in 21 countries, are:
Architecture: Gloria Cabral (Paraguay)
Selected by Mentor Peter Zumthor (Switzerland)
Driven by a profound belief in a collaborative approach to her work, Paraguayan architect Gloria Cabral, 32, is a partner in the firm Gabinete de Arquitectura. Her architectural philosophy reflects her originality as she interacts with fellow architects on projects that are informed by strong environmental and social concerns and the creative use of local materials.
Dance: Myles Thatcher (United States)
Selected by Mentor Alexei Ratmansky (Russia)
Acknowledged for his versatility and talent as a rising star of classical ballet, American dancer and choreographer Myles Thatcher, 24, trained at the Harid Conservatory, Ellison Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, which he officially joined as part of the corps de ballet in 2010. Thatcher will now choreograph a piece for the San Francisco Ballet's 2015 repertory season.
Film: Tom Shoval (Israel)
Selected by Mentor Alejandro González Iñárritu (Mexico)
Obsessed with films since childhood, Israeli film-maker and screenwriter Tom Shoval, 32, graduated from Jerusalem's Sam Spiegel Film & TV School and has continued making short films that have garnered awards at international film festivals. His debut film, Youth (2013), premiered at the Berlinale and won Best Film at the Jerusalem Film Festival.
Literature: Miroslav Penkov (Bulgaria/United States)
Selected by Mentor Michael Ondaatje (Canada)
Dedicated to giving a voice to his countrymen by examining the history and culture of Bulgaria in his work, author Miroslav Penkov, 31, earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas and is an Assistant Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of North Texas. Winner of the 2012 BBC International Short Story Award, Penkov writes in both English and Bulgarian.
Music: Vasco Mendonça (Portugal)
Selected by Mentor Kaija Saariaho (Finland)
Portuguese composer Vasco Mendonça, 36, has begun to attract international attention for such works as his recently completed chamber music piece, The Boys of Summer (2012), and an hour-long chamber opera, The House Taken Over (2013). Both were co-commissioned by the Aix-en-Provence International Opera Festival, which has premiered several of his compositions. Mendonça premiered Ping (2013) in the UK. He also teaches Analysis and Composition at Lisbon's Lusiada University.
Theatre: Sebastián Solórzano Rodríguez (Mexico)
Selected by Mentor Jennifer Tipton (United States)
Using painting and experimental cinema as references when he designs light, Mexican lightingdesigner Sebastián Solórzano Rodríguez, 28, has created stage lighting for the Centro de Producción de Danza Contemporánea (National Contemporary Dance Company of Mexico) and Luz Y Fuerza: Cine Expandido (Expanded Cinema), an interdisciplinary group he co-founded that makes hand-made light devices for art installations and live cinema performances.
Visual Arts: Sammy Baloji (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Selected by Mentor Olafur Eliasson (Denmark, Iceland)
Using photography as a tool of observation to write on his society, Congolese artist and photographer Sammy Baloji, 35, has been widely exhibited in Europe, the U.S. and Africa. He works between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he creates haunting photomontages of his homeland. Winner of the Prix Afrique en création (2007), the Prince Claus Award (2008), and the Spiegel Prize (2012), Baloji founded the Lubumbashi Biennale and the Picha Art Centre.
"Rolex is proud to sponsor such an extensive programme in support of young artists. There are no geographical limits imposed on the search for the brightest talents worldwide. We're delighted that this year's selection of protégés shows, yet again, such a diverse range of nationalities," said Rebecca Irvin, head of philanthropy at Rolex. "The year of mentoring presents each of the seven protégés with a remarkable opportunity to learn and grow under the guidance of some of today's most distinguished artistic masters. We at Rolex look forward to seeing what artistic surprises this new cycle of the Arts Initiative will bring," she added.
For the 2014-2015 cycle, international nominators invited 154 artists from six continents to apply for mentorships, and from that group three or four artists from each discipline were chosen as finalists. These finalists were then interviewed by the respective mentors, who each chose one protégé for the 2014–2015 mentoring year. The pairs will work together in any way they choose. At the end of every cycle, the Rolex Arts Initiative hosts an international gathering of artists at which the mentors and protégés share highlights from their year together.
In support of their participation, the protégés will each receive a grant of 25,000 Swiss francs and are eligible for an additional 25,000 Swiss francs for the creation of new work after the mentoring year. These gifted young artists are given the time to learn, create and grow outside the financial and commercial demands artists face in the early years of a professional career.
For further information and photographs, please visit rolexmentorprotege.com/press.