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The Elemental Arts Initiative at Pomona College will come to an end this semester, and so will the Arts Inspiration grants that are part of the initiative.

This is a final invitation for Arts Inspiration grant proposals. Projects approved by the Elemental Arts committee will be funded on a first come, first served basis. All Arts Inspiration projects must be completed by May 7, 2015.

Arts Inspiration grants may be applied to senior thesis projects, if the project can be clearly related to Elemental Arts themes and aims. For more information please go to the Grants & Awards page of this website.

Applications should be submitted by April 7, 2015.

For more information please contact:

YT Wong
Grant Coordinator
Mellon Elemental Arts Initiative, Pomona College

909.621.8186 (Theatre & Dance office)
Department of Theatre and Dance office, Seaver Theatre
300 East Bonita Avenue, Claremont CA 91711

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The Summer Experience in the Arts (SEA) Awards have funded student explorations and projects in the arts for the past three years. Here’s a look back at SEA 2013 and 2012 projects. The text is taken from students’ own writing for their SEA 2013 and SEA 2012 final presentations.

SEA 2013

William Appleton PO’14 Music Composition
Objectivism in Mid-Century Music
For my project I studied and created music from an objectivist standpoint. The first half of the project consisted of research into the objectivist trains of thoughts prevalent in art music during the 50’s and 60’s in the Total Serialist and Minimalist movements. Through studies of scores and music theory readings, I sought to show that these two very different sounding styles of music actually share a common composition philosophy. This common thread is the objectivist mindset, which manifests itself in the use of impersonal systems to generate musical material with limited influence from the composer himself. I then took this research and used it for inspiration in composing a work for orchestra, with multiple movements, the first movement inspired by the Minimalists’ systems, and the second by the Serialists’ systems. I am in discussions with Eric Lindholm, the conductor of the Pomona College Orchestra, to have the piece performed by that group in March.

Ian Byers-Gamber PO’14 Media Studies
Video documentation of The Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture
I worked with Professor Mark Allen at Machine Project, a non-profit educational art space in Echo Park, Los Angeles to create video documentation of a wide range of art performances and events. This summer I participated in the documentation of The Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture, as part of The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. The Field Guide was a series of performances by various artists in different architecturally or culturally significant places in Los Angeles. I helped to create documentation that attempted to capture the feel and aesthetic of the art, as well as make the documentation accessible to a wide and primarily internet-based audience. For this project, the documentation is an analogous artistic work to the performances themselves.

Maurissa Dorn PO’14 Fine Art
Dua Bulan (Two Months/Two Moons)
Most would be hard pressed to believe that the familiar rolling twang of the banjo has any resemblance to a set of bamboo tubes on the small island of Bali quite literally on the other side of the earth, but that’s why I am so excited to share my work from this summer. After having studied the music of the rindik (Balinese bamboo xylophone) in Bali for two months, I have taken traditional American banjo songs, and arranged rindik parts for them, in addition to writing banjo parts for traditional rindik songs. With these arrangements, I aim to shed light on the surprising technical and stylistic similarities between the two instruments and respective styles.

Joaquin Estrada PO’14 Studio Art
Stitching Historias
For my ten weeks, I had a daily working practice revolving around merging hand embroidery and autobiographical writing. I aimed to add physicality to my words through a labor-intensive embroidery process, and the women of color feminist idea that the personal is the political to my interest in textile art. As the summer went on, my project became about defining and rendering parts of my particular and layered life story through the use of bilingualism and familiar, but reinterpreted, visual imagery. My hope is that in doing this, I have begun to develop my own (un)docuqueer art practice, and created something that individuals like myself can look at and come away with a sense of being recognized and represented.

Sana Javeri Kadri PO’16 Visual Art
Hinduism in 21st century India: A Photographic Journey
I set out to travel across India by myself and look at the relationship between religious and modern India through photography. I wanted to discover the country that had eluded me through my sheltered childhood in elite South Mumbai and that I had shunned all through my high school years in Italy. I wanted to come out of my journey with a deep understanding of my country, a pride for my roots and a strong sense of connection to India, religious and modern as it is. Beginning in Mumbai, each place on my itinerary was chosen specifically for its contribution to the Religion vs. Modernity debate. My primary aims was to create a strong body of beautiful, striking, and meaningful images, that conveyed the greater role of religion within Indian society today, to grow and challenge myself as a photographer, marking the beginning of my own journey towards photographic storytelling, and to share my work and the final result of this with the greater Claremont Colleges community. I believe that each student here is grappling with similar issues, of representing a generation stuck between times, and who remain unsure of what to retain and what to forge ahead without. I hope that my journey will expose them to the global magnitude of this issue, and act as a starting point for meaningful and constructive discussion on the role of religion, and religious traditions within any and all democratic, secular states.

Paul Koenig PO’14 Music
Four Voices over Newport
Inherent in the phrase “Elemental Arts” is the idea of bridging disciplines artistically, and I was first drawn to the possible parallels between the arts and the hard sciences. In the course of my initial research I discovered Charles Dodge’s 1971 composition Earth’s Magnetic Field, one of the first forays into sonification. Essentially, sonification is the process of representing information sonically, i.e. turning data into sound. Dodge used a single data stream to determine a sequence of pitches, and the question I ask with this project is whether a composition in which all musical elements — not just pitch — are determined by a (multi-variable) data set can be successful. My source data was taken from a year of NOAA weather balloon readings over Newport, Rhode Island, and I attempted to assign each variable (temperature, pressure, refractive index, humidity, and vapor pressure) to a relevant musical parameter, with the hope that this piece conveys some sense of the tale of turbulence and calm that occurs over our heads, mostly without our knowledge, each day. The piece was realized using the computer program Max MSP with the kind oversight of Professor Tom Flaherty.

SEA 2012

Zachary Belok PZ’15
Zac Belok worked on a 10-week apprenticeship with Yozmit, performance artist / singer / songwriter / fashion designer in New York City exploring site-specific performance installation, costume design, and a new connection music to the music industry. As a result of the experience, Zac is now experimenting with dualistic performance, combining the intangible and amorphous with fundamental human emotions.

Cesia Dominguez-Lopez PO’14 Studio Art and Neuroscience
This summer I was based in the Bay area where a thriving community of Flow performance live and create. Becoming part of this community allowed me to expand my hoop/flow skills while gaining experience in the performance-based aspect of flow.

Sydney Dyson PO’14 Studio Art
Project Summary: Thrifty Transformations is the research of the complex clothing industry from point of manufacturing to the after life of resale, repurposing, and discarding. Through repurposing clothes I want people to learn about recycled fashion, new ways of filtering clothes in and out their wardrobes, and how this aspect can have a positive impact on our world.

Evelyn Saylor PO’13 Music and Religious Studies
This project is an experiment in electronic soundscapes and music, which is conceptually based on tectonic plates. The piece responds to various geological phenomena related to the movement of tectonic plates, and uses data from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, which has been made audible through the process of sonification.

Lucas Wrench PO’13 Studio Art
This summer I worked with the Joshua Tree based artist Andrea Zittel at A-Z West, her Institute of Investigative Living, exploring the notion of an integrated art and life practice. I will be synthesizing this experience in a two week art-vacation in Washington’s San Juan Islands, test riding the prototype of my bike-cart distillery.

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The Summer Experience in the Arts (SEA) Awards have funded student explorations and projects in the arts for the past three years. Here’s a look back at them. The text is taken from students’ own writing for their SEA 2014 final presentations.

SEA 2014

David Connor PO’15 Neuroscience
Air and Empty Space from the Southwest
I am a senior at Pomona College and interested in considering empty space as a nonphysical agent that moves the physical world. I am interested in empty space, specifically empty space as a manifestation of absence/loss – and additionally as ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ matter. My desire with the SEA grant has been to explore spaces of emptiness in the Southwestern United States. My project uses sound recordings and various stuff-containing boxes to recreate specific locations in the Southwest. I hope that the project develops ideas and feelings of loss, specifically as they relate to the land and the people. But I also hope the project explores the ghosts and fantasies that have formed from this loss/absence. I traveled for a month through California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. I spent most of my time in Marfa, TX, where I stayed for ~3 weeks.

Kulsum Ebrahim PO‘15 Studio Art and International Relations
Stories from a Pakistani art classroom: The role of the visual arts in primary and secondary education
I’m from Karachi, Pakistan and I’m interested in visual language and storytelling. I like to explore conversations, memories, and play. I spent the summer in Pakistan researching the role of the arts in primary and secondary education. I focused on the visual arts and was interested in what an arts education means in a developing urban city in South Asia and the perceptions that different people have about the arts. What does an art classroom in Karachi look like? I spoke with art educators, art students, and art critics about their personal stories and opinions about art and education.

Elicia Epstein PO’15 Studio Art
In There Out Here
I am interested in social art practice, often involving photography or sculpture. Most recently my work has revolved around our relationship with the land. This summer I travelled around the United States, using digital photograph to explore different spiritual traditions and peoples’ relationship with their environment. Leaving Claremont in late May, I biked up to the Oregon border, and then caught rides to the east coast, where I continued to travel out of my car. I was initially drawn to the sacred spaces, objects and rituals of established spiritual traditions, however, my interest also grew around the idea of aspirituality– a sense of the natural world around us as separate, random and other. The tension between these two outlooks proved to be the central inspiration for my photographic and personal work.

Nidhi Gandhi PO’15 Neuroscience
My Dearest Mind: The View From Here
Nidhi Gandhi is a senior who looks ​to apply creative and interdisciplinary thinking to her work in both neuroscience and art. An aspiring educator, she seeks ways art can be used instead of standard educational materials to explain scientific enquiries and human experiences. This project began as a way to show the beauty of the brain, despite what are commonly defined as malfunctions – mental disorders. But through studying the effects and the day-to-day reality of someone with a mental disorder, I realized that it was impossible to hold myself at a distance and think simply in neurological terms. As I began to interview people with mental disorders and to attend group therapy, I found that their problems are familiar to all of us – amplified due to uncontrollable circumstances, and without the absolute certainty that what they perceive is real. Mental disorders distort and change perceptions, and the dissonance between our versions of reality cause frustration, confusion, and insecurities for those people affected. For my project, instead of allowing the audience to maintain a distance, I’m depositing them in the middle of the experience – the meeting with friends that emphasizes your difference and loneliness, the moment alone on a street corner that reveals the beauty and menace of the world and people around you, and the chaos caused by a few aberrant neurons, a self-consciousness that comes with the knowledge that you see the world differently. We can’t slap a diagnosis on a life and move on – their reality has to become ours. We have to see from the inside, make the perception personal.

Nissa Gustafson PO’15 Studio Art
Bread and Puppet Theater Company
I find artistic inspiration in the use of multi-media creations to gather people together and communicate stories and events in a manner that actively invites the viewer into the spectacle. I am interested in the ways in which the barrier between the viewer and a performance/presentation can be dissolved, and spaces in which “art” blends into experience. My summer SEA consisted of a ten-week apprenticeship with the Bread and Puppet Theater Company, a political theater group founded in the 1960s, based in Glover, VT. During my ten weeks at Bread and Puppet, I helped in the construction of large-scale, multi-person, paper mache puppets, participated in the creations and performances of five productions, worked in the Bread and Puppet print shop (all wood-cut prints), and played music in various performance settings. I was involved in all stages of production for the company’s shows and parades. I also participated in various street performances and actions made in response to different political situations that were of relevance and importance this summer. While at Bread and Puppet, I was able to explore puppetry and mixed-media performance as an inclusive and engaging art form while being part of a community of inspiring individuals from various backgrounds and areas of interest/know-how.

Karen Alejandra Herrera PO’15 Studio Art
Karen is a Southern California native who grew up in the city of La Puente. The daughter of two Mexican immigrants, Karen works to reclaim the narrative of the immigrant family by inserting the personal into the visual and literary canons. Karen recently divorced her primary medium and is exploring multi-media art forms. In dialogue with Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands text, the photo series depicts in-between-ness. Mujeres in transition. Mujeres in their borderlands. The photos are manipulated in order to locate the borderlands in the everyday, in an effort to have the borderlands manifest themselves. The borderland, an in-between space of neither here nor there, lends itself to the clashing of political, cultural, and personal margins. It is a place where those who inhabit the margins dwell. A place where those who act as bridges between worlds find a settling place. The manipulations work to confuse space and evoke the tension of the borderlands.



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SEA 2014 montage

Images from SEA 2014 projects by (clockwise from top left): Karen Herrera, Nidhi Gandhi, Kulsum Ebrahim, David Connor, Nissa Gustafson, and Elicia Epstein.

Online applications for Summer 2015 Experience in the Arts (SEA) Awards open on Monday, January 5th, 2015.

The application deadline is February 6th, 2015.

[added January 8th, 2015]

Students eligible to apply:

  • Currently enrolled Pomona College students, except seniors graduating in Spring 2015
  • 5Cs students currently enrolled in Arts courses (incl. Art History) at Pomona
  • 5Cs students enrolled for independent study in the Arts (incl. Art History) with Pomona faculty
  • 5Cs students participating in a performance ensemble based at Pomona College

[end addition]

Log in and apply through ClaremontConnect, on any career services portal of the Claremont Colleges. The application is listed as: “Summer 2015 Arts Experience Awards,” posting ID number 16842971.

Scroll down for links to ClaremontConnect on 5Cs career services web pages. Additional information on the SEA Awards can be found on the Elemental Arts Grants and Awards page.

Pomona College Career Development Office

Scripps College Career Planning & Resources

Pitzer College Career Services

Harvey Mudd College Career Services

Claremont McKenna College Career Services

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Online applications for Summer 2014 Experience in the Arts (SEA) Awards are now open.

The application deadline is February 6th, 2014.

Login and apply through ClaremontConnect, on any career services portal of the Claremont Colleges. The application is listed as “Summer 2014 Arts Experience Awards,” or search posting ID number 16834793.

Scroll down for links to ClaremontConnect on 5Cs career services web pages.

Pomona College Career Development Office

Scripps College Career Planning & Resources

Pitzer College Career Services

Harvey Mudd College Career Services

Claremont McKenna College Career Services

More information on the SEA Awards can be found here.


Workshop #2 – Intro to oil painting, and discussing art and language. Voices Project, RiT Gallery, La Puente, California.

Over the winter break, Karen Herrera PO ’15 and Kimberley Africa PO ’15 led a series of seven workshops at RiT Gallery in La Puente.

The Voices project, conceived, organized, and realized by Karen and Kim aimed to, “create an alternative art making space for at risk low-income youth,” in downtown La Puente, in partnership with the gallery, with the aim of developing art as a medium of empowerment for youth. Workshops on oil painting and printmaking were accompanied by lectures and discussions on art and social justice, particularly the work of artists and art collectives in the LA area.

The project culminates in an exhibition of participants’ work at RiT Gallery opening on January 17th.

The Voices project was supported by an Arts Inspiration grant from the Elemental Arts Initiative.

SEA 2013 montage

It’s time to prepare your applications for the 2014 Summer Experience in the Arts (SEA) Awards! The deadline for applications is February 6, 2014.

Six (6) summer stipends to support student research in the arts will be awarded. Elemental Arts aims to support students intending to pursue fulltime internships, arts apprenticeships, collaborative research with a member of the arts faculty, or their own research agenda with frequent and substantive arts faculty interaction. Projects applying a cross-disciplinary perspective and a collaborative approach across the arts, sciences, humanities, and social sciences are encouraged.

You are eligible to apply if you meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Currently enrolled Pomona College students;
  • Students from Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Claremont McKenna, and Pitzer College enrolled in an arts course with a Pomona College professor;
  • Students enrolled for independent study in the arts at Pomona College;
  • Students participating in a performance ensemble based at Pomona College.

Download guidelines for application and further details about the SEA Awards from the Elemental Arts grants page:

The application procedure and links will be posted soon. Please contact Elemental Arts coordinator, YT Wong, at, if you have any questions.



CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Elemental Arts Inspiration Grants

Calling all students! Bring your cross-disciplinary, art+anything, research and presentation, or senior thesis projects. Arts Inspiration grants for student-initiated projects are now open for application.

Submissions for Fall should be received by Tuesday, November 12, and for Spring 2014 by Tuesday, February 4.

Arts Inspiration grants are small grants up to $300 for interdisciplinary projects with an arts component. The grant may be considered for completion of senior thesis projects.

  • Grants of up to $300 for student-initiated projects.
  • Grants are available to all 5Cs students in Pomona College courses and performance ensembles.
  • Interdisciplinary projects containing an artistic component are welcome and encouraged.
  • Projects must be completed within 12 months of the approval of a grant.

More information and grant application guidelines here:

Previous Arts Inspiration projects include:

Stream of Conscience by Elicia Epstein PO’15

TERRA-rise! A Club Kids Tribute by Gabriela Guerra PO’14 (photos by Sana Javeri Kadri PO’16)

you are [not] alone by Andrew Hong PO’13 and Juliette Walker PO’13

Walking LA by Zoe Carlberg PO’12

YT Wong, Grant Coordinator, Mellon Elemental Arts Initiative, Pomona College


Summer Experience in the Arts 2013 projects were presented on September 19th at Art After Hours, hosted by the Pomona College Museum of Art.

In addition to presentations, visitors took part in an embroidery workshop, heard stories from travels in changing India, watched video of a Greek play staged inside a moving vehicle in downtown Los Angeles, listened to a musical performance of Balinese music transposed to the banjo, and attended lecture demonstrations of two musical compositions in progress. The night ended with live music organized by KSPC, the Pomona College radio station.


SEA montage

Six students will present Elemental Arts Summer Experience in the Arts (SEA) Awards projects on Thursday, September 19th.

This event is held in collaboration with Art After Hours at the Pomona College Museum of Art.

For more information, see our Diary Page entry SEA Awards Projects.


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