Meet the Mentors | Elizabeth Newkirk, Ashley Cai, and Lyrik Courtney

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The COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective is a fellowship program that allows creative writers, visual artists, and musicians to explore, illuminate, and grow through collaborating on interdisciplinary projects.

Fellows participate in a free 4-week collaborative program, connect with talented and passionate peers, have around-the-clock access to highly accomplished mentors, and are eligible for a monetary stipend to help them pursue projects and arts-related initiatives.

To apply for the fellowship or for more information, visit here.

Meet Elizabeth Newkirk (music), Ashley Cai (visual art), and Lyrik Courtney (creative writing), three mentors for the 2019 COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective.

CAC: What themes have you always aimed to explore with your art? What is a topic you want to explore with your art, but haven’t yet?

EN: If I could identify a consistent theme, it would be collaboration. Interacting with other artists, mediums, and the community in which I live inspires me greatly. Hm, I don’t know a topic that I’m interested in exploring that is not on the horizon. The beauty of planning both short and long term is incorporating steps to include all of your goals and interests!

AC: I always liked to capture stories and experiences in my work, because I think stories are the most engaging form of art. Right now though, I'm vibing with some fashion illustrations, and I want to explore the combination of the two.

LC: Isolation and alienification, primarily. In the future, I want to try my hand at writing more candidly about childhood (to speak generally) and the ways that the world and certain interactions therein become “stranged” by that perspective, though the way through this process has yet to fully reveal itself to me.

Elizabeth Newkirk, playing the piano, alongside Kathryn Satoh, playing the violin. Together, Elizabeth and Kathryn form the violin-piano duo Bow & Hammer. Here, they play Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel at Ovation Chicago in 2019.

CAC: If you have one piece of advice for emerging artists, what would it be?

EN: Ideas, passion, originality...all are fleeting novelties if you cannot organize, plan, and implement into action nor if you cannot recognize your relationship to the past, present, and future.  

AC: Keep making stuff. If you're scared to start creating, if you're too much of a perfectionist to begin, then you'll never improve.

LC: Don’t be afraid to leave the party. You should never feel bad if you get the itch to abandon something “fun” like hanging out with your friends for the sake of art. There’ll be other parties. One of my favorite things about being a poet is the strangeness of character it guarantees you, and how that strangeness allows you to step outside of your body to survey yourself, the space around you, how you’re inhabiting the space. Nikky Finney gave me this advice. If you don’t trust me, trust the words of a National Book Award winner.

Take a look at Ashley’s visual art and Lyrik’s poetry.

CAC: If you were to summarize your latest work/project in less than ten words, what would they be?

EN: Touring our series that collaborates with Chefs.

AC: A rebellion against cliched sweet animated stories.

LC: It is, in summary, a funeral dirge.

CAC: If you could have dinner with any artistic figure from any time period, what would you eat and with whom?

EN: Maurice Ravel, and hopefully at his favorite cafe in Paris!

AC: Probably Marcel Duchamp. He seems like a fun guy.

LC: Mussels with Belgian choreographer Damien Jalet would be very cool.

CAC: What are you most looking forward to as an Arts Collective mentor?

EN: Hearing about the ideas and goals of the participants and hoping to provide any guidance that I can to improve efficiency, success, and authenticity.

AC: I can't wait to see other artist's work and push them to explore with positive reinforcement. It's nice to validate people. :)

LC: Being able to support other artists. I think a program like this would’ve been (and still would be, if I’m being honest – very helpful. I’m honored to take part. I think giving feedback will be an energizing process for me.

Learn more about the Arts Collective here.

Apply to the Arts Collective here.

About the Mentors

Elizabeth Newkirk | Illinois, USA

Entrepreneur, activist, and musician, Elizabeth Newkirk encompasses thoughtfulness and artistry in all of her work, performances, and collaborations. She is the co-founding member and pianist of Bow & Hammer, her primary ensemble. With Bow & Hammer, she explores her passion for duo repertoire of the early 20th century, while balancing it with new and standard works. Extremely inspired by the slow-food movement, she is dedicated to creating concerts that can mirror the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of the food movement, furthermore creating a relevancy for new audiences, meaningful experiences, and a camaraderie among other disciplines. “IndustryNight” and “Élevé ,” are just two examples of presentations by Bow & Hammer that feature a wide range of disciplines, artists, and small businesses in Chicago.

Ashley Cai | California, USA

Ashley Cai is a painter, animator, and digital artist from the suburban heart of California's Silicon Valley. She is a caricature artist, graduating high school senior and has attended multiple summer programs including CSSSA Animation. Her work is driven by her excitement for cohesive color schemes and often explores the peculiarities of human behavior. Ashley derives inspiration for stories from situations encountered in her sleepy surroundings. She hopes to make an experience out of viewing her art by building narratives into the piece, whether still or moving. Her animated film has been screened at twelve film festivals globally such as the Austin Film Festival and received a national silver medal from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Lyrik Courtney | Florida, USA

Lyrik Courtney (b. 1999, Tampa, Florida) is a German Studies and Creative Writing double-major at Agnes Scott College, where they have been the recipient of the Janef Newman Preston Prize and the Betty W. Stoffel Award for Poetry. Much of Courtney’s work consists of abstract narratives about afro-surreal subjects or deconstructs the (necro)pastoral image and landscape. The erotic form, where it appears in the poems or short prose, is often, if not always, rendered grotesquely. They were one of the 2018 Winter Tangerine Writing Fellows and are a June Fellow (2019) of the Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets. Lyrik is an alum of various Winter Tangerine workshops and the Adroit Journal’s Summer Mentorship Program (Class of 2017). They have been published in journals such as Liminality, Ninth Letter, Blueshift, and Strange Horizons, and are the blog editor and interview correspondent for TRACK//FOUR, a magazine for people of color.

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Patrick Tong is the outreach director for the Arts Collective. He is a high school junior from the northern suburbs of Chicago. His work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Poetry Society of the UK, and appears in Eunoia Review and Rising Phoenix Review. Besides reading for COUNTERCLOCK, he currently serves as an Executive Editor for Polyphony H.S. and a copy editor for its affiliated blog, Voices.