The Ghanaian-born visual artist El Anatsui, the British writer Bernardine Evaristo, the Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke, the French architect Anne Lacaton and the American jazz singer Dianne Reeves are the new mentors in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, a program started by Rolex in 2002 to foster new generations of outstanding talent.
The names of the new mentors and their protégés, who will collaborate for two years, were announced Friday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where the Arts Initiative is celebrating the culmination of its current program cycle. This cycle included Lin-Manuel Miranda, the first mentor in a recently added open category to incorporate multidisciplinary artists.
The protégés are the architect Arine Aprahamian, the writer Ayesha Harruna Attah, the visual artist Bronwyn Katz, the filmmaker Rafael Manuel and the singer and composer Song Yi Jeon. The protégés each receive a stipend of about $41,000 in addition to funds for travel and expenses.
The new group of mentors and protégés hail “from nine different countries in Asia, Africa, North America, Europe and the Middle East,” Rebecca Irvin, the head of the Rolex mentoring program, said in an email. “And their artistic work reflects many of the most pressing issues of our day, including sustainability, diversity and social change.”
Evaristo, who wrote in a statement that she had her eye on the program “ever since Toni Morrison was a mentor 20 years ago,” said that the “very close and personal attention” that the protégé receives is very different than attending workshops or writing courses. “It might also involve career guidance and personal development, as well as opening up conversations around creativity and society, and looking to other art forms for inspiration,” she said.
Twenty years after it began, the Arts Initiative, which calls on influential advisers to select the mentors and protégés, now has a boldface list of alumni, including David Adjaye, Alfonso Cuarón, Brian Eno, Lara Foot, Stephen Frears, Nicholas Hlobo, David Hockney, Joan Jonas, Anish Kapoor, Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Crystal Pite and Tracy K. Smith.