Mohr Visiting Artist

The Office of the Vice President for the Arts administers the Mohr Visiting Artist Program which brings acclaimed and emerging artists to campus for a one-term period to teach a credited course and provide a presentation, exhibition or performance for the Stanford community and the public.

The Mohr Visiting Artist Program is supported by Nancy and Larry Mohr and administered by the Office of the Vice President for the Arts.

Current Visiting Artist:

Photo: Lara Kastner

Majel Connery
The Stanford University Department of Music will host Majel Connery during the winter 2016 term as the sixth Mohr Visiting Artist.

Related Course

MUSIC 134: Theatricality and the String Quartet

How might we imagine string quartet as a theatrical genre? This thought experiment informs a collaboration between Mohr Visiting Artist Majel Connery, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, and the Saint Lawrence String Quartet. This seminar serves as a laboratory for that collaboration, offering a forum to explore side by side with Connery, SLSQ and Shaw the conceptual origins of the project and soliciting students¿ creative involvement. Orbiting around signal works for string quartet and voice, the course combines the critical rigor of graduate-level work with the practical grit of a studio workshop, and culminates in a suite of student performances.


Majel Connery is a vocalist, composer and musicologist. She is also co-founder and director of Opera Cabal, an arts think tank for the conjunction of academic and creative work on opera. Under her leadership, Opera Cabal commissioned and produced Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw's "Ritornello," and mounted the world stage premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas's ATTHIS, called "one of the most searingly painful and revealing operatic performances in recent times" (New York Times). Connery's composer collective, Oracle Hysterical, releases its first album, "Passionate Pilgrim," on Vision into Art/NAXOS this December, and is finishing a commission from Grammy-nominated ensemble A Far Cry. This academic year Connery is Mellon Visiting Artist (with Ken Ueno) at the Susan and Donald Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College; artist in residence at National Sawdust with Oracle Hysterical and New Vintage Baroque (Brooklyn, NY); and curator in residence at the Starline Social Club (Oakland, CA). Recent honors include a USA Artist Fellowship nomination, and a New Music USA Award (with Oracle Hysterical). Connery recently completed a position as Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated from Princeton University with an A.B. in music composition and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in ethnomusicology and musicology.


Buy One, Get One Free: Music 134 and 156 Final Class Projects

Monday March 13, 2017

CCRMA Stage, The Knoll

Students from Music 134 (Theatricality and the String Quartet) and 156 (sic: Improvisation Collective) present their final projects.

Friday April 21, 2017


In a first-time collaboration, Mohr Visiting Artist Majel Connery and the St. Lawrence String Quartet partner with the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw and famed opera director Christopher Alden to present a workshop staging of Shaw’s latest commission, the vocal quintet Contriving the Chimes. Based on Isaac Newton’s “Before Whitsunday 1662,” Shaw’s work for voice and string quartet sets to music a list of sins penned by a boyish 19-year-old Newton. Shaw’s playful, seemingly improvised textures offer a cheeky counterpoint to Newton’s earnest confessions. Together with a song cycle by Doug Balliett, August is also cruel, Shaw’s work appears for the first time in a workshop staging by Alden.

Previous Visiting Artists:

Mohr Visiting Artist 15-16

Natalia Almada
The Stanford University Department of Art & Art History will host documentary filmmaker Natalia Almada during the winter 2016 term as the fifth Mohr Visiting Artist.

Related Course

FILMSTUD 249/449: Eye of the Beholder: Subjective Cinema 

This course proposes to look at how even the most seemingly objective films are shaped by a subjective eye. An eye which is molded by gender, race, culture and class - all of which influence the entire film-making process and experience from how something is framed to how it is cut and and how it is perceived it. How we look at something, for how long we look at it and in what context we are shown something is as important as what we are looking at. Similarly the subjective eye of the viewer shapes how he or she understands and interprets the film. Whether the viewer is an insider or outsider to the subject completely changes expectations and reactions to the film. So then what are we really talking about when we talk about documentary films? What makes a documentary a documentary? Why is such a categorization valuable? Necessary? Useful? The course will combine analysis of films, theoretical texts, and some practical "production" exercises.


MacArthur Fellow and recipient of the 2009 Sundance Documentary Directing Award for her film “El General,” Almada’s most recent film “El Velador” premiered at New Directors/New Films and the Cannes' Directors' Fortnight. Her previous credits include “All Water Has a Perfect Memory,” an experimental short film that premiered at Sundance in 2002 and “Al Otro Lado,” her award-winning debut feature documentary that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005.

Almada’s films have screened at Documenta13, The Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum and The 2008 Whitney Biennial. All three feature documentaries have broadcast on the award-winning series POV. Almada has received the Guggenheim, USA Artists, Alpert and MacDowell fellowships. She is currently in post production of her first fiction film "Todo lo demás" (Everything Else) starring Academy-award nominated actress Adriana Barraza. Almada graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and currently lives in Mexico City and San Francisco.


From Real to Unreal: between documentary and fiction film

Tuesday February 9, 2016
McMurtry Building, Oshman Hall


Grisha Coleman
The Stanford University Department of Theater and Performance Studies: Dance Division hosted New York based artist Grisha Coleman during the fall 2014 term as the fourth Mohr Visiting Artist.

Related Course

DANCE 156T/TAPS 156T: Hybrid Action: Physical Intelligence in Digital Culture

The term ‘hybrid action’ introduces the notion of movement, expressed in both the physical and virtual worlds. What is physical intelligence? How could we cultivate it? What technologies can extend sensory awareness, and which can suppress it? How can better understanding of human movement impact a creative/design process?

This class takes human movement as a practice based [experiential], creative, theoretical, historical, and philosophical realm of study. Working within a somatic framework, this course introduces basic principles and practices of body awareness approaches that emphasize sensory experience along with basic anatomical knowledge as a way to extend one’s ‘physical intelligence’. Importantly, the class asks how movement study can inform creative practices from computer programming to engineering to choreography, as well as applications in health and rehabilitation, cognitive and neuroscience, philosophy and literature.

Literature around theories of embodiment come from a variety of disciplinary fields, giving the course a broad approach to understanding how we use movement and the body to engage in our world and with digital systems, putting experiential design at the forefront.

In parallel, students are introduced to 1] interactive technologies developed to extend possibilities for sensing, analyzing and responding to movement [e.g. Max/Msp, Processing, Kinect, camera tracking,] and 2] literature in the field that looks at current work and contextual writings in critical cultural and media studies, philosophy, sciences and historical texts.

The class emphasizes hands-on, individual and collaborative projects through research and prototyping. Through practice-based research, the projects encourage students to develop strategies for designing, developing and building hybrid [physical/digital] projects – or ‘experiential media systems’. This work leverages the movement investigation as a way to innovate in the function and design of digital technology, while the technologies and their constraints also have implications for the way that we move in the world. The work is given context and direction by how these hybrid systems may be applied in a social context [e.g. health, arts, design, education]. Final projects are expected to be collaborative and more complex in scale, development and design.

Short readings, written responses, and in-class discussion are part of the critical response to concepts of embodiment from literature, the arts, human-computer design, philosophy, linguistics and neurosciences.


Grisha Coleman, Assistant Professor of Movement, Computation and Digital Media in the School of Arts, Media + Engineering and affiliate faculty in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre (both in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts) at Arizona State University, is a dancer, choreographer, and composer in performance and experiential media systems. Her work has been recognized nationally and internationally: she is the recipient of a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts [NEA], and an Arts in Media grant. Other notable awards and honors include grants from the Rockefeller Multi-Arts Production (MAP) Fund, The Creative Capital Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, and The New York Foundation Artists’ Fellowship (NYFA). A graduate of the College of Letters at Wesleyan University, with an MFA in Composition and Integrated Media from California Institute of the Arts, she was a member of acclaimed dance company Urban Bush Women [1990-1994], and subsequently founded the music performance group HOTMOUTH, which toured extensively nationally and internationally, and was nominated for a 1998 NYC Drama Desk Award for “Most Unique Theatrical Experience.” She is a current member of the board of directors for Society of Dance History Scholars.


Student Lunch Talk

Wednesday November 19, 2014
Harmony House, 561 Lomita Drive

Artist Talk

Tuesday November 18
Wallenberg 160-124


Basil Twist
2013-2014, 2014-2015
The Stanford University Department of Theater and Performance Studies will host New York based artist Basil Twist during the spring 2014 term as the third Mohr Visiting Artist.

Related Course

TAPS 144 / TAPS 344: Puppetry with a Twist

Creative course is an introduction to puppetry with a survey of important styles and techniques from around the world including Twist’s own. Hands on and individualized experience with the aim of each student creating or contributing to a puppet or object/figure performance. Course is as broad as the individual’s creative expression. Concludes with a class showing/performance of the student’s work.


Basil Twist is a native Californian who ventured to New York over 20 years ago, and has garnered an international reputation as an audacious designer, director and performer. He creates iconic, visionary puppetry worlds with a remarkable range of style and scope appearing in intimate nightclubs to large orchestra halls. He has taught at leading Universities such as Duke, New York University, and Brown and as a guest lecturer of the US State Dept in Russia. He has received an Obie, a Drama Desk Award, five UNIMA Awards, two Bessie Awards, a New York Innovative Theatre Award, a Henry Hewes Award, a Guggenheim, a USA Artist fellowship and was most recently awarded a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. In 2012 Washington D.C. hosted a retrospective of his work, Twist Fest D.C. He is the Director of the Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE in New York.

Basil Twist’s Web Site


Basil Twist – Animating the Inanimate: A Talk on Abstract Experiments in Puppetry and Visual Arts

Thursday March 5, 2015
Denning Family Resource Center, The Anderson Collection at Stanford University

Mohr Visiting Artist Basil Twist will lead a discussion inspired by this outstanding collection of 20th century American Art that highlights the abstraction he has developed and created in his own works on stage.

ARTIST TALK: Puppeteer Basil Twist

Tuesday May 6, 2014
Nitery Theater

World-renowned director, scenographer, and puppetry artist Basil Twist will speak at this year's Mohr Visiting Artist Talk. Basil Twist is the 2013-14 Mohr Visiting Artist hosted by Stanford TAPS. The Mohr Visiting Artist Program is supported by Larry and Nancy Mohr and administered by the Stanford Arts Institute.


Robert Henke
The Stanford University Department of Music hosted Berlin based artist Robert Henke during the spring 2013 term as the second Mohr Visiting Artist.

Related Course

Music 223M: Sound, Structure, and Machines – Robert Henke

Using computers to build systems that apply algorithmic or stochastic processes to assist in detailed control over timbre and the creation or manipulation of musical structures and spatial properties in real-time. Topics include: Algorithmic and stochastic methods, sound design, FM synthesis, drum programming, spatialization, aesthetics, tool building, musical structures, reverberation, sequencing. Group and project based with lectures. Final live performance. Limited to 20 students.


Robert Henke, born 1969 in Munich, Germany, is a multidisciplinary thinker, composer, sound designer, software developer, installation artist and audiovisual performer. His art is focused on carefully shaped details behind the surface and gradual changes of repeating structures in different time scales. Henke places equal importance on the interaction between audiovisual arts, and the physical spaces in which they take place. He is currently exploring new technologies such as wave field synthesis and ambisonics, and makes use of large-scale high-resolution projections to create situations of total immersion and either decouple the spatial experience from a given space or enhance its inherent properties. Many of his works are defined as potentially endless and slowly evolving states, thus inviting the audience to immerse themselves completely for a freely defined amount of time. His sonic explorations are rooted in academic sound research and computer music as well as in contemporary club culture. With his collaborative musical project, Monolake, he helped shaping what later became ‘the sound of Berlin’s techno music’, whilst his more conceptual works are frequently performed or exhibited at art galleries and festivals.

Robert Henke’s Web Site


Robert Henke: Stanford Dust

Friday May 24, 2013
Bing Studio, Bing Concert Hall

Dust is about the exploration of noisy, grainy textures and about very slow movements of seemingly static sonic material, shredded into myriads of microscopic particles. The sources are leftovers of digital processes, noises that become even noisier, or field recordings; splashing waves captured in Australia on a beach with lots of pebbles, a massive storm, steam from a coffee machine, crackles of the lead out groove of an old record, hum and electrical discharges from a big transformer...


Camille Utterback
The Stanford University Department of Art and Art History hosted San Francisco-based artist Camille Utterback during the winter 2012 term as the first Mohr Visiting Artist.

Related Course

Artstudi 176: Time Shifts – Camille Utterback

Registrar’s listing: Examine how both individual perceptions and artistic representations of time have historically shifted with changes in technology. What are the current possibilities to extend/re-imagine how we represent time using digital tools? How do these possibilities, in turn, re-inform traditional media? This is a conceptual and experimental class with a studio focus. Examples are mainly from an art context, but include interaction design, information visualization, and scientific illustration of time-based events and processes. Students should have previous experience with a set of digital tools – Photoshop, FinalCutPro, AfterEffects, or a programming language that will allow you to digitally manipulate images. Assignments include exercises using traditional media, and digitally based projects. Occasional writing assignments also required.


Camille Utterback is a pioneering artist whose interactive installations and reactive sculptures engage participants in a dynamic process of kinesthetic discovery and play. Her work explores the aesthetic and experiential possibilities of linking computational systems to human movement and gesture in playful, yet subtly layered ways, and focuses attention on the continued relevance and richness of the body in our increasingly mediated world. Utterback’s extensive exhibit history includes more than fifty shows on four continents. Awards include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2009), a Transmediale International Media Art Festival Award (2005), a Rockefeller Foundation New Media Fellowship (2002), a Whitney Museum commission for their ArtPort website (2002), and a US Patent (2001). Her work is in the collections of The La Caiza Foundation (Spain), Itau Cultural (Brazil), 21C Museum (Louisville, KY), Hewlett Packard, The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, and other private collectors. Recently completed public commissions include works for the City of St. Louis Park, Minnesota (2009), the City of San Jose, California (2010), and the Sacramento Airport, California (2011). Utterback holds a BA in Art from Williams College, and a Masters degree from The Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Camille Utterback’s Web Site