Three Charlotte Area Artists Receive NC Arts Council Fellowship

Raleigh, N.C. (October 23, 2013) — John Allemeir, Aimee Parkison, and Kathryn Schwille have received a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship in literature or music. 

The three artists are among 15 from across the state to receive the 2013–2014 North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award in the categories of songwriting, composing and writing. 

Artists receive a fellowship to support creative development and the creation of new work. Recipients were selected by panels comprised of artists and arts professionals with expertise in each discipline. 

The N.C. Arts Council’s Artist Fellowship program operates on a two-year rotating cycle by discipline. Choreographers and visual, craft, and film/video artists are eligible to apply for the November 1, 2013 deadline.                                    

About Aimee Parkison (Literature, Fiction)

“Authenticity comes from sensitivity,” says Charlotte writer Aimee Parkison. “That’s what makes art powerful and dangerous — you have to feel everything so deeply to create something meaningful and authentic.” She serves as an Associate Professor, English Department, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. 

Parkison says that psychological and “psychic” danger grows out of that higher level of sensitivity, which leads to vulnerability, and can sometimes be deeply painful, as the soul tries to protect itself from harm once the sensitivity becomes too great.  

“Creative risk is the same risk as with extreme intimacy,” she continues. “To be an artist — a creative writer — one has to be open and to remain open so that the pleasure and pain of others influences the work. That’s what it means to ‘create’ a character, a mood, a voice, or a story that sings lyrically and universally with pleasure, pain, joy, depression, sensuality, or fear — any real and deeply felt emotion that moves from the page to the reader’s heart and mind.”

Joseph Dewey, in The Review of Contemporary Fiction (Fall 2012) wrote, “Parkison is a storyteller, conjuring characters who harbor festering secrets, lurid urgencies, and violent compulsions. Like Joyce Carol Oates, Parkison deftly works the caricatures of Southern Gothicism into terrifying clarity.”

Parkison is a 2013 William Randolph Hearst Creative Artist Fellow for historical fiction, American Antiquarian Society Fellowship for Creative and Performing Artists and Writers. She earned the 2005–2006 Christopher Isherwood Fellowship in fiction writing and the 2004 Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review for an original short story, Warnings.

Her short story collection, Woman with Dark Horses (Starcherone Press, 2004) won the Starcherone Fiction Prize. Another short story collection, The Innocent Party, was published by BOA Editions, Ltd. American Readers Series (2012).

“The truth has to be mined, uncovered, searched, sought for— language can lead to a hidden truth, as in poetic or surrealist moments, when language uncovers a truth we didn’t know we knew,” Parkison says. “Sometimes, writing a realistic story about risky subject matter leads to telling the truth in a courageous manner because our characters can say things that we are not encouraged or allowed to say, at least publically. Sometimes our characters will tell us a truth we need to know, something we once knew and have somehow forgotten.”

About John Allemeier (Music, Composition)

“After spending five years living in Europe, I returned to the United States in 2005 in search of an identity as an American composer,” says Huntersville chamber music composer John Allemeier. “Looking for inspiration for my work has guided me to traditional American folk songs and ballads.” He serves as an Associate Professor of Composition at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Allemeier’s most recent recording project is a set of three chamber music compositions inspired by North Carolina murder ballads. A subgenre of traditional ballads, they are folksongs whose lyrics recount the narratives of notorious murders.

“My compositional process in these most recent works has been to use the narratives of the ballads as a structural outline for the entire composition,” Allemeier says. “The folk melodies are used as the musical ‘DNA’ of each work.” In the end, a completely new 20-minute composition is generated from a simple 15-20 measure melody. 

“Of particular interest in my compositions is the idea of resonance, which is a direct reference to American folk music,” Allemeier continues. “The use of fiddle-like melodies that incorporate open string drones in the violin, and fingerpicking pizzicato gestures on the cello are a few examples.” 

Deep Water: The Murder Ballads, Compositions by John Allemeier is currently in production and will be released in early 2014. Other notable works include Dark Dances, Compositions by John Allemeier (Albany Records, 2011), and 4 (for piano quartet) commissioned by the University of Iowa Center for New Music as part of the University of Iowa School of Music Centennial Celebration, 2007. Allemeier also takes pride in five other compositions (with two more in production) that appear on Albany Records releases as contributions to recording projects with many other fine composers.

Of Dark Dances, the May/June 2011 American Record Guide wrote, “Allemeier manages to create lush and interesting sounds without sounding dated, and in all the pieces on the recording his writing is assured and interesting.” Fanfare Magazine, May/June 2011 added, “Overall it is a disc of lively, imaginative and propulsive work, all of which bodes well for a substantial career.” His website is www.johnallemeier.com. 

About Kathryn Schwille (Literature, Fiction)

“I frequently write my fiction from a desire to explore the mysteries of characters who are quite unlike me and unknown to me, but who draw me,” says Charlotte writer Kathryn Schwille. “I write to discover. Sometimes I feel like an anthropologist.”

“In my first professional experiences after college I was a newspaper reporter, and I still have a passion for writing about people whose stories have been overlooked,” Schwille says. “My most recent project, a book of short stories set against the backdrop of the Columbia shuttle disaster in East Texas, gives me a chance to poke around an under-reported news story while creating an ordinary town touched by an extraordinary event. I like to examine the strange intersections of life.”

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Schwille credits Minneapolis author Charles Baxter with writing essays on fiction that enlightened her. “He once said in an interview, ‘At its best, fiction is not a diversion but a means of knowing the world,’” she says. “I have known the world through Baxter’s luminous fiction, as well as through the stories of Mavis Gallant, Eudora Welty, Willa Cather and so many more. All of them have influenced my work and provided companionship on this journey.”

A graduate of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, Schwille was awarded a 1994 Emerging Artist Grant from the Arts and Science Council in Charlotte, and was selected as a fellow at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her works have been published in Crazyhorse, Puerto del Sol, West Branch, Sycamore Review and other magazines, and her story Belonging to Karovsky was cited for Special Mention, Pushcart Prize, 1994.


About the North Carolina Arts Council

The North Carolina Arts Council works to make North Carolina The Creative State where a robust arts industry produces a creative economy, vibrant communities, children prepared for the 21st century and lives filled with discovery and learning. The Arts Council accomplishes this in partnership with artists and arts organizations, other organizations that use the arts to make their communities stronger and North Carolinians—young and old—who enjoy and participate in the arts. For more information visit www.ncarts.org.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

The N.C. Arts Council is a division of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, which annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, and the State Archives.

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources serves as a champion for North Carolina’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. To learn more, visit www.ncculture.com.