A – Z Guide: U

The Understudies

Arts grants and fellowships may be fairly common, but it’s extremely rare for a young artist to have the chance to spend 12 months working one-on-one with a master in his or her field. Since 2002, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative has provided such an opportunity to six artists in a variety of disciplines every year or so. The next round of mentors—including Martin Scorsese, artist Rebecca Horn, and musician Youssou N’Dour—will announce their protégés in May. Five past participants talk about their experiences and what they’re up to now.

Julia Leigh

Literature, 2002–3
with Toni Morrison

Best Moment

Having Toni introduce a reading of one of my works at Barnard was, as you can imagine, amazing. And it was always a great thing to hear her laugh.

The Lesson

Toni encouraged me to persevere in my writing and was a model of impeccable conduct as a writer-in-the-world.

Up Next

My novella “Disquiet” was just published in Britain and will be available in the States from Penguin Press in December.

Alejandro Cesarco

Visual Arts, 2006–7
with JOHN BALDESSARI

Best Moment

Retrospective, the collaboration we worked on, was a learning experience, a dialogue, and, ultimately, a negotiation for common ground.

The Lesson

Disregard for rules: John gave me complete freedom and encouraged me to experiment with diverse approaches and strategies.

Up Next

Last year I had two solo gallery shows in New York. I’m now working on a film inspired by my conversations with John.

Aditya Assarat

Film, 2004–5
with MIRA NAIR

Best Moment

During a break in filming “The Namesake,” I found Mira alone, staring out to the ocean. It was a reminder how necessary it is to enjoy the process.

The Lesson

I really admire Mira’s ability to lead. Directing is a bit like hosting a really big party. And Mira is a very good hostess—she uplifts the entire set.

Up Next

“Wonderful Town,” my first feature film, just premièred in the States. The next will deal with contemporary youth in Thailand.

Selina Cartmell

Theater, 2006–7
with JULIE TAYMOR

Best Moment

When Julie came to Dublin to see my play “Festen,” we hung out afterward, just chatting about everything. Our relationship felt incredibly natural.

The Lesson

I learned that anything is possible; if you are passionate about the work, you can straddle artistic boundaries without compromising.

Up Next

My theater company, Siren Productions, is rehearsing a production of “Macbeth.” Next year I’ll do my first opera.

David Carpenter

Music, 2006–7
with PINCHAS ZUKERMAN

Best Moment

I found it hugely inspirational every time Maestro Zukerman spoke to me about his travels, travails, and personal reflections on life.

The Lesson

He has a connection with every listener, and he helped change my technique so I could better communicate my musical message.

Up Next

I just signed with Columbia Artists and will begin touring in June after my last semester at Princeton.