Schedule of Events

Tarrey Torae
Feb 13 @ 7:00 PM

Chicago Artists Workshop Presents: Tarrey Torae

Chicago bred, but southern at heart, Tarrey Torae’s melodic presence springs from the crossroads of city living, southern geniality, essential womanhood, and passionate soul. No amateur to music, Tarrey is a 6x Apollo Winner and has appeared on 2 GRAMMY Award Winning Albums for her work with Kanye West on The College Drop Out and John Legend’s, Get Lifted.

This musical powerhouse has performed on stages with The Roots, Common, Talib Kweli, Patti Labelle and Stevie Wonder and has shared stages with the likes of Jill Scott, Mos Def, Nas, Usher, Anthony Hamilton, Faith Evans, Dave Chappelle, Lupe Fiasco, Cee Lo Green, Little Brother, El Debarge, Lyfe Jennings, Eric Roberson, India.Arie, Amel Larrieux, Erykah Badu, Miguel, Marsha Ambrosius, Roy Ayers, Snoop Dogg, the late great Gil‐Scott Heron, Will.I.Am, and many more.

Along with her audacious voice, her songwriting skills have been featured on Platinum & Gold records with Kanye West, John Legend, & Freeway. She’s also been on records with Talib Kweli, DMX, J. Ivy, Pete Rock, and The Last Poets, and has been commissioned to do work in the advertisement world for brands such as All State, General Mills, Ford, and Toyota.

Beyond singing and writing, her acting background has extended to theater, film and television, where she landed the lead role on the Off‐Broadway play “Me and My Shadow.” She also appeared on an episode of the Emmy Award Winning Drama Series “ER,” and in an independent comedy called “Not Another Black Film” (Amazon 2017). Recently she has taken on a new role in the upcoming film “Hal King” and is playing the character named Madame Quickly, which is set to release in the summer of 2018.

Some of Torae’s other endeavors include the release of her album, The Sweetest Survivor, her House Music singles, Marching On, Let It Go, and most recently, Freedom Ride. Freedom Ride was produced by Grammy Nominated House Legend, DJ Terry Hunter. Tarrey is currently preparing for the release of her upcoming R&B Soul album, as she continues to tour with the Iconic Hip-Hop Legend Slick Rick the Ruler, and International Award-winning Poet, J. Ivy.

Further, Tarrey works in the community with children and young adults giving self‐esteem and creative workshops. An example of this can be seen in her music video titled, Little Girl. With Tarrey Torae’s talent and creative fervor, she is bound to leave a timeless mark on music and art.

Tom Lee
Feb 26 @ 7:00 PM

Chicago Artists Workshop Presents: Tom Lee

Born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Mililani, Hawai’i, Tom Lee is a director, designer and puppet artist based in New York & Chicago. Mr. Lee began his career at La MaMa Experimental Theater in New York with the encouragement of Ellen Stewart and, later, the St. Ann’s Warehouse Puppet Lab. His original puppet theater work includes Shank’s Mare (La MaMa, International Tours), Hoplite Diary (St. Ann’s, La MaMa), Tomte (Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival), Odysseus and Ajax (La MaMa) and Ko’olau (La MaMa/Hawai’i tour). Mr. Lee directed & designed puppetry for Pinocchio with the House Theater of Chicago, The Scarlet Ibis by Stefan Weisman and David Cote at the Prototype New Opera Festival and for the National Asian American Theatre Company, among others. Mr. Lee collaborated with director Stephen Earnhart on a multimedia staging of Haruki Murakami’s The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, for which he designed the scenery, puppetry and projected puppet miniatures at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2011 and the Singapore Arts Festival in 2012.

Mr. Lee has performed extensively as a puppeteer, including the Tony Award-winning War Horse at Lincoln Center Theater with puppetry by Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa. He is a principal puppeteer of Cio-Cio-san’s child in the late Anthony Minghella’s production of Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera with puppetry by Blind Summit Theatre. Tom directed the puppetry for the Giants Are Small production of Petrushka with the New York Philharmonic on tour at London’s Barbican Centre and was a puppeteer in Le Grand Macabre at Avery Fisher Hall directed by Doug Fitch and conducted by Alan Gilbert. He has performed in Dan Hurlin’s Obie-award winning puppet work Hiroshima Maiden and Disfarmer, on tour and at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. Tom recently performed in Lee Breuer’s epic puppet opera La Divina Caricatura at La MaMa.

Tom’s theater design work includes puppets, projections and sets for Lookingglass Theater, Yoshiko Chuma, Bora Yoon, Tom O’Horgan, Czechoslovak American Marionette Theatre, Paper Canoe Company, The Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Christopher Williams, The Swedish Marionette Cottage, The Stonington Opera House, Lone Wolf Tribe and Ellen Stewart, among others. In 2013, he designed the Korean pop musical The Lost Garden, directed by June-Young Soh and premiered at the Shanghai Mercedes Benz Arena in China.

In 2005, supported by the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Designers, Tom spent two months studying traditional and contemporary puppetry throughout Japan. He studied with Koryu Nishikawa V, headmaster of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyō (cart puppet theatre company) with whom he has maintained an ongoing creative relationship. Tom Lee and Koryu Nishikawa V developed Shank’s Mare, a collaborative puppet theatre work using the kuruma ningyō style. Mr. Lee’s work has received support from The Jim Henson Foundation, The Japan Foundation NY, The TCG/Andrew W. Mellon In the Lab Program, The TCG/ITI Travel Grant Program, The Trust for Mutual Understanding, The Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Japan Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, The Puppet Lab at St. Ann’s Warehouse and artist residences at High Concept Labs at Mana Contemporary Chicago, Sarah Lawrence College, The Rhodophi International Theater Laboratory (Bulgaria), The Ringling Museum of Art, The Jim Henson Carriage House and Hachioji Kuruma Ningyō.

Tom was a guest faculty member at Sarah Lawrence College for ten years and was co-director of the St. Ann’s Puppet Lab from 2009-2011. Eileen Blumenthal, author of Puppetry: A World History, wrote of Hoplite Diary, “An extraordinary piece of theater–huge in scope and filled with exquisite detail and emotion. Tom Lee is an exciting new talent.”

Nick Zoulek
Mar 10 @ 7:00 PM

Chicago Artists Workshop Presents: Nick Zoulek

“…Zoulek’s performance, on saxophones in every range, is stunningly virtuosic, whatever the genre.” -The Wall Street Journal

A modern saxophonist of “pure mindfulness and talent” (PopMatters), Nick Zoulek’s focus on performance, collaboration, multimedia, and improvisation, has led to a diverse portfolio of distinctive artistic ventures, performing across France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

As a soloist, Nick’s craft has been lauded as “wickedly contagious” (The Huffington Post) with the capacity to “[take] you to other worlds” (Milwaukee Magazine). The versatility Nick displays on the saxophone has been praised as “[b]eautiful harmonies [singing] in contrast to mysterious knockings and hums, and finally to ungodly, soul-shattering blasts” (Shepherd Express). Bringing together diverse musical landscapes, Nick’s performances traverse genre, bringing together classical, jazz, experimental, and rock idioms. He has garnered numerous awards as a classical soloist, and has been featured in concerti with the University of Wisconsin Whitewater Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra, the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Wind Ensemble, and the Boulogne Ensemble du Vent. Committed to advancing the classical saxophone, Nick performs frequently as a visiting guest artist at universities across the United States, most recently as the featured artist of the Shockingly Modern Saxophone Festival and as the year-long Artist in Residence for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee SENSORIA series.

As an interdisciplinary artist, Nick is “a no-holds-barred engine of avant-garde exploration,” (Portland Press Herald). Currently, Nick is working on his second album project, Enter Branch, which will combine his performance and compositions with members of Bon Iver, Eighth Blackbird, Field Report, the Tontine Ensemble, ~nois saxophone quartet, and many more. He has served as music director with Wild Space Dance Company, and has scored and performed dance works with the Madison Ballet, HYPERlocal, and with members of Zenon and Like You Mean It dance companies.  Nick often works with film and animation, experimenting with the expressive potential of visual media. His films center on self-composed scores, and have been screened at festivals in England, Canada, Serbia, Africa, and around the United States. Nick’s media works have garnered numerous awards, including Best Experimental Film from the London Modcon International Film Festival and Largo Film Festival. Nick’s music can be heard on Rushing Past Willow (INNOVA Records), which fuses all of facets of his work through self-composed pieces for alto, tenor, and bass saxophone.

Nick maintains an active profile researching the saxophone’s role in contemporary classical music, presenting on contemporary aesthetics and saxophone performance. He has served on faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (sabbatical replacement), teaching saxophone and jazz studies courses. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Contemporary Music Performance with a cognate in Digital Media from Bowling Green State University. Additionally, Nick holds a Master of Music Performance from BGSU, a Certificat des Études Musicales from the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régionale de Boulogne-Billancourt, and a Bachelor of Music Performance with Magna Cum Laude honors from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has previously learned with Dr. John Sampen, Jean-Michel Goury, Dr. Matthew Sintchak, and Dr. Jon Amon.

Susy Bielak & Fred Schmalz
Mar 24 @ 7:00 PM

Chicago Artists Workshop Presents: Susy Bielak & Fred Schmalz


Susy Bielak is an artist, writer, curator and educator. Her work has been collected, exhibited and performed widely, including by the International Print Center, Museo Tamayo, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, and Walker Art Center. Her artwork and writing have been published in Art Papers, Poetry Magazine, and New American Paintings, among others. Bielak received her MFA from the University of California San Diego. She is a 2020-21 BOLT artist in residence at Chicago Artists Coalition, and her ongoing collaborative with Fred Schmalz is currently in residence at Grand Central Art Center with support from the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Fred Schmalz is an artist and poet whose debut poetry collection, Action in the Orchards (Nightboat Books), responds to encounters with dance, music, and visual art. He was poet-in-residence for the LA Philharmonic’s 2018 FluxConcert in its season-long fluxus festival. His recent writing has appeared in Poetry, Conduit, and Oversound. He is currently an artist-in-residence at Grand Central Art Center in his ongoing art collaboration with Susy Bielak. He lives in Chicago, where he co-curates the Poetry & Biscuits reading series.

Molly Joyce
Mar 31 @ 7:00 PM

Chicago Artists Workshop Presents: Molly Joyce

Molly Joyce’s music has been described as “serene power” (New York Times), written to “superb effect” (The Wire), and “impassioned” (The Washington Post). Her work is primarily concerned with disability as a creative source. She has an impaired left hand from a previous car accident, and the primary vehicle in her pursuit is her electric vintage toy organ, an instrument she bought on eBay which suits her body and engages her disability on a compositional and performative level. Her creative projects have been presented at TEDxMidAtlantic, Bang on a Can Marathon, Danspace Project, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, National Gallery of Art, Classical:NEXT, National Sawdust, and featured in outlets such as Pitchfork, Red Bull Radio, and WNYC’s New Sounds. Molly is a graduate of The Juilliard School, Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Yale School of Music, alumnus of the YoungArts Foundation, and currently serves on the composition faculty at New York University Steinhardt.