Our first grantee is Belgin Yucelen; sculptor, installation artist and printmaker. She studied sculpture at the Florence Accademia D'Arte, University of Colorado Boulder, Art Students League of Denver and Scottsdale Art School. Her work has been represented in many private collections and exhibitions. She creates sculptures, installations and movies. She is interested in tracing the shifts over time in cultural values by referencing history, anthropology, historical literature and architecture. Belgin applied to the Moon and Stars Project grants to help her install an exhibition she created, `Clothes from the Past` in Richmond Virginia. This unique exhibition with sculptural dresses has educational and historical elements that reflect the community, traditions and sophistication of the Turkish culture during the 17th to 19th centuries. The dress styles of the period reflect the diverse nature of the people of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish culture. Metal dresses are hung up on walls and from the ceiling like silhouettes of time. Belgin used traditional techniques and materials from Turkey, Europe and other parts of Asia to create the dresses. The techniques she has used to decorate the dresses are calligraphy, gilding, and traditional embroidery from Turkey and India and fabric manipulation from Japan. She has referred to miniature paintings and literary sources to understand the styles of the time and studied the Ottoman textiles. The dresses she created carry elements from the traditions, themes and beliefs of the time as well as humanistic concepts. Her dresses have calligraphy, Turkish crystals along with imported silk and horse hair. With this exhibition, she is hoping to engage the audience to understand how Turkey`s norms and values within the present landscape were shaped by the past and how the future will unfold. The dresses will be displayed together with a description explaining the historical importance of the particular dress. The exhibit has been viewed by people all around the world and now, with the help of the funds from ATS, it will be exhibited at the Helena Davis Gallery in Richmond, Virginia from July 27 up until August 19, 2018.
Our second grantee Ege Maltepe, is an actress. When she was 19, she received a scholarship from the department of performing arts in Bilkent University. Following her graduation from Bilkent, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to continue her studies in the USA. She applied to the Moon and Stars Project grants to ask for funds to help her translate and publish `Improvisation for the Theater`, a book written by Ms. Viola Spolin who was an educator, theatre academic and acting coach. She is an innovator in the 20th century American theater for creating directorial techniques to help actors to be focused in the present moment and to find choices as if in real life. These acting exercises she later called “Theater Games” has formed the first body of work in this field. The technique and the philosophy behind it has been published in `Improvisation for the Theater` and it is considered as the "Bible of improvisational theater". Viola Spolin`s work has influenced American theater, television and film by providing new tools and techniques that are now used by actors, directors and writers. When Ege met Viola Spolin’s acting technique, she was a student in The New Actors Workshop in New York City. She realized that the work of Viola Spolin had never been translated to Turkish. Therefore, she decided to translate the book, “Improvisation for the Theater”. She was granted permission by Viola Spolin’s family and thus, Ege’s journey began. She founded Spolin-Ist, in 2009, the only school and acting organization that uses Viola Spolin’s methods in Turkey. Since 2009, she has been working on the translation of the `Improvisation for the Theater` and teaching workshops in Turkey. She has trained drama teachers, actors and many others who were interested in learning this method. Her students include artists who are leading acting schools in different universities. She believes that the book will be a new guide for the younger generations and, with the funds from ATS she will be able to publish the book in early 2019.
Our final grantee is Sedef Ecer who is a scriptwriter, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, and director. Sedef Ecer grew up in Istanbul and was exposed to the world of movie-making, theatre and television at an early age. As a writer and an actress, she has not only been nominated but received many prestigious awards. As an actress, she appeared in 25 films and several plays since she was three years old, but her major work is in the field of theater. She began writing in French in 2008 and she is a part of the Parlement des écrivaines Francophones. She writes in two languages, French and Turkish. Sedef has written novels, over 500 articles and transmedia stories. Her screenplays and plays were translated into Polish, Turkish, German, Armenian, Greek, and, English. She applied to the Moon and Stars Project Grants to ask for funds to bring the play she wrote and directed: `É-passeur.com` (e-smuggler.com) to the New York stage. É-passeur.com debuted in Turkish at the Istanbul International Theatre Festival in Turkey then in French at the Théâtre du Peuple, the Liberté National Scene in Toulon and at the Théâtre de Suresnes. The play is about a businessman looking like a chic Mafioso who has created his start-up: E-passeur.com. Via his mobile phone, he monitors boundaries that are redrawn each day and exploits candidates on departure. For the refugees the life is all about their phone too, it becomes their link to the world: they will get in touch with the smuggler on Facebook, find their way via Google Map, talk to their family by Skype and, follow the political changes in their country by Twitter. And they will leave digital traces wherever they go. As they cross lands and seas, the virtual ferryman will show them the way. She says that she has realized that a refugee can travel without food, without clean clothes, without an ID, but never without a mobile phone and charger. We believe that her play will show us a new spin on political and economic migration, respect and acceptance of the other, border issues, the place of the female body in public space, and the traces we leave on the internet. With the funds from ATS, the original text from 'É-passeur.com' will be translated into English by Amelia Parenteau, and director Lisa Rothe will be presenting an adaptation of`'É-passeur.com' to the New York audience. The translated script will be utilized for a public stage reading, produced by Voyage Theater Company, in partnership with the 53rd Street New York Public Library in the fall of 2018.