Arts & Social Justice Fellowship 2023 Highlights

Fellows and Projects

Abjini 2


Wiped Out

As thousands of children are murdered in school shootings year after year, so many bright futures are stolen while the atrocities committed are forgotten. Through a multimedia visual artwork paired with a musical performance, Abjini shines a light on victims and their families impacted by the effects of gun violence. Her project depicts the reverberations of devastation in a community of loved-ones, and tells stories of the lives that could not be lived, the potential that could not be fulfilled. 



A Director's Note  

Representation and inclusivity are crucial in the performing arts industry. By focusing on actors of color and individuals from underserved communities, we aim to address existing disparities and provide a platform for underrepresented voices. Through a series of workshops specifically tailored for participants ranging from late elementary to middle school, “A Director's Note” aims to equip young artists with essential tactics and strategies for success in the performing arts industry. 

Hosea 2


Black Beauty and Black Men 

Hosea’s project includes a series of photos of horses and people of color. Consistently, there are stereotypes placed on people of color as poor, delinquents, and people up to no good. Horse sports are a white dominated industry, but these photos illustrate how people of color can be successful in underrepresented worlds.  



inequality within a workplace  

According to recent statistics, women make up about 47% of the total workforce. However, this number varies depending on the industry. For example, women are more likely to work in healthcare and education, while men are more likely to work in technology and engineering. Additionally, women are often underrepresented in leadership positions. This gender gap in leadership is particularly evident in the tech industry, where women hold only about 25% of computing jobs and occupy only about 11% of executive positions. Jada’s project, made out of clay, wood, fabric, and paper will serve as a powerful visual representation of the gender imbalance that still exists in many workplaces today. 




Our actions affect the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and also drastically influence the biodiversity of plants and animals on Earth. “Metamorphosis” is a multimedia series of collages that draws attention to Earth’s dire environmental and climate crisis, and explores the complexity of environmental justice.  


The integration of plastic material raises awareness of how we treat our Earth and emphasizes the issue of widespread pollution. Additionally, the use of recycled materials to create art inspires hope: with appropriate action, we will be able to mitigate environmental change and preserve a healthier, more equitable environment for future generations. 

Olivia 2


Symphony of a Mother 

The racism deeply rooted in society can be lethal for a Black woman when they are at their most vulnerable. In the United States, African-American women die while pregnant, while giving birth, or shortly after the end of their pregnancies at a rate two and half times higher than their white counterparts. The reasons are copious: lack of access to adequate health care, chronic medical conditions, and unconscious bias that dismiss or devalue a woman’s concerns. Even having a higher income is no defense.  


"Symphony of a Mother” is influenced by the quilts that strengthen community crafted by Black women in the South. The work includes quilt patterns used in the Underground Railroad, such as the North Star, a beacon of light that communicated to enslaved people that they were on the path to freedom. Her art incorporates symbolism that relays the story of motherhood: nurturance, a fighting spirit, and love.   These images are accompanied by spoken word in a multimedia performance that hopes to communicate how within trauma and agony, there is hope and aspiration.  

Aron 2


Understanding vs. Undermining

“Understanding vs. Undermining” is an art project that addresses the issue of intolerance in our community through the artist’s own eyes. This project urges viewers and listeners to think about how intolerance might show up in their communities, and how we can collectively understand one another. First, Aron uses a pedigree chart to raise the question, “where do I fit in?” while presenting a collage of comments from his neighborhood forum to expose the intolerance that manifests in his community. These graphics are accompanied by performances of classical piano pieces. This project intends to shine a light on the lived experiences of Aron’s family to illustrate intolerance, understanding, and identity in a multicultural society. Intolerance exists in many forms; “microaggressions can have macro effects.” This project asks us to think about how intolerance permeates our lives and how we can become changemakers together.  

Ollie 2


Phases of Grief  

This project explores the impact of climate change on mental health among teenagers. In a series of paintings, four emotions are depicted: denial / ignoring the problem, anger / assigning blame, depression / hopelessness, and activism / advocacy. While each painting portrays each “phase” as singularly significant, the series conveys a progression of how one learns to accept the reality of their world while realizing their power to change it. 

Rayan 2



Rayan gets top surgery in ten days, near their hometown. Not only that, but they leave for college in Boston a little over a month later. In cleaning and packing up their room, Rayan is reminded of their journey to this surgery, and everyone who was a part of it. Through boxes of theatre programs, receipts, and clothing, distracted facetime calls, and more – they find forgotten strands of themselves and others everywhere. "When you are home” explores the communal, personal, and historical relationships Rayan remembers while cleaning their room, and what it means for who they are, and who they’re becoming. NOTE: “When You Are Home” requests the use of audience participation in the form of performance partners and monetary donations. 

Tais 2


Is it simply just yes or no? 

This project centers on answering the question, “Why not just go to the doctor?” For some African Americans, the hesitance to answer this question is rooted in mistakes of the past, while for others, the choice can be influenced by religious beliefs. The play “Is it simply just a yes or no” attempts to provide a space to consider these questions. It specifically focuses on how history and religion impact the relationship between African Americans and their healthcare providers. 

2023 Fellows

ABJINI 2 (1)


Abjini (she/her) is an 11th grader at Montgomery Blair High School. Her passions range from the visual arts to singing. Her paintings and sketches have been displayed in local hospitals, showcased in the Maryland First Lady’s Spring Art Show, and included in a published children’s book. As a singer, she was admitted to Maryland’s All-State Senior Chorus in 2022 and 2023, and placed second in the Glory International Romantic Music Competition. As a Vice President of Blair’s National Art Honor Society, she creates service opportunities for students to apply their artistic abilities to help those in need throughout the community.  

ACH’SAH 2 (1)


Ach’sah (she/her) is a junior at Montgomery Blair High School interested in theater and racial justice. Each year, she performs in several in-school productions, including “Sankofa,” an annual Black History Month tribute. As an Assistant Director at Playset Theatre, Ach’sah leads others in diverse forms of theatrical performances. She is also a strong advocate for the Black community, partaking in numerous activist endeavors each year.  

HOSEA 2 (1)


Hosea (he/him) is an 11th-grade multi-talented musician. He engages in an array of musical activities including singing and playing multiple instruments. Hosea’s drive for activism is channeled through his approach to singing: he seeks to draw from the struggles of racism as well as the joy of being Black. Beyond music, Hosea aspires to be a large breed vet and professional polo player. He enjoys riding horses, learning about animals, and playing competitive polo. 

JADA 2 (2)


Jada (She/Her) is a sophomore at Elizabeth Seton High School with passions for animals and all types of art. Jada specializes in dance, painting, and drawing, but also has interests in sculpting and creative writing. Jada enjoys art because she feels that expressing creativity and feelings are limitless. She lives in Laurel, Maryland and can be found looking for things to lay her hands on to paint. 

ARON 2 (1)


Aron (he/his) is a 9th grader at Georgetown Day School. Aron is passionate about music in all its forms including studying piano, singing in his school’s chorus, and participating in an acapella club. He plays extensive classic rock repertoire and is the lead singer of his own rock band. Aron is interested in honing his skills in social activism and seeks to closely explore the concept of tolerance and peace within local communities, multicultural societies, and the broader world. Aron volunteers at Rockville Bike Hub and is a mountain biking enthusiast. 

MYLA 2 (2)


Myla (she/her) is a 10th grader at Winston Churchill High School. She loves the arts and humanities and is passionate about the intersection between arts and social justice. She is also interested in environmental advocacy, sustainability, and research. In her free time, she enjoys baking, hiking, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She is excited to learn how to use art to effectively advance social change in her community and beyond. 

OLIVIA 2 (2)


Olivia (she/her) is an 11th grader in the Visual Arts Center magnet at Albert Einstein High School. Olivia works in many creative mediums, including drawing, painting, digital art, dance, and creative writing. Her artwork has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and Friends of the Yellow Barn Studio. An intern at Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, she guides 8-10 year olds, fostering their love for dance, creativity, and collaboration. An advocate of nature, Olivia also received a Girl Scouts Silver Award for organizing volunteers to rebuild a neglected rain garden to benefit pollinators and the Rock Creek watershed. She wants to create work where people from diverse backgrounds can better see and feel the personal, societal, and structural interconnections of difficult social issues, especially racism. By expressing her creative voice, Olivia hopes to move people to take action to create social justice.  

OLLIE 2 (2)


Ollie (they/them) is a senior at Jackson-Reed High School and has been drawing ever since they could hold a pencil. As Creative Editor for their school magazine and Director of Visuals for their school paper, Ollie sees art as a crucial tool for communication and expression. They’re passionate about climate justice and started a Sunrise Hub at Jackson-Reed, joining a national, youth-led movement pushing for climate justice. As a Strathmore Fellow, they hope to marry their passions for artistic expression and advocacy. 

RAYAN 2 (1)


Rayan (they/them) is a 12th grader at George C. Marshall High School in Fairfax, Virginia. They’ve been involved in theatre for fourteen years as a performer, playwright, and scenic painter, among other roles. Rayan’s plays have been produced by Statesmen Theatre. Awards include: First Prize for Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Art’s 10-minute Play Contest (“1, 2, 3”, 2022), Semi-Finalist for the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition (High School Musical Theatre, 2022), and VHSL Top 2 Best Actors in the Region (Finley in “Edit Profile”, 2021). Rayan’s work stems from “artivism,” the connection of art and activism, where they find it imperative to use art as a means of social justice and to inspire difficult conversations.  

TAIS 2 (2)


Tais (She/Her) is a Senior at McKinley Technology High School who loves finding ways to incorporate art into her life. She is a part of the theater club at her high school and is currently preparing for the upcoming play: Fences. Outside of acting, Tais enjoys creative writing and bringing the stories of those around her into the spotlight. You can always find her working to change the world. 

2023 Program Facilitators


Blue Cavell-Allette

Blue Cavell-Allette (she/her) is an internationally renowned, multi-award-winning improviser and teacher who has headlined and taught in a multitude of cities including Toronto (CA), Washington DC and Philadelphia.   As a performing artist, Blue has over two decades of experience creating, directing and producing improv, traditional theater and interdisciplinary work. Blue is currently a professor of applied improvisation at Morgan State University.

TRAVIS 2 (1)

Tavish Forsyth

Tavish Forsyth (he/they) is a queer improvisor with Celtic roots. He is a performing artist, word technologist, and professor of applied improvisation. He was born on Penacook Land in Lowell, Massachusetts, under a Virgo sun and moon with Pisces rising. Since 2011 he has lived in Baltimore, which is the ancestral land of the Piscataway people, where he became the founder of Bird City Improv, a teaching artist with the Maryland Center for Creative Classrooms, and a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University. Tavish is a trained actor with two degrees in theatre. He is versed in multiple styles of improvisation, embodied practice, and comedic theory. Centering healing, queerness, and connection in his work, Tavish empowers individuals to listen, adapt, and respond. His hope is to co-create theatre that is joyful, patient, and honest.