Sixteen Northern California Scholars and Artists Win Guggenheim Fellowships

Olympic Gold Medal Boxer Claressa "T-Rex" Shields, 20, at Gallo Boxing Gym in Lansing, Michigan; part of Zackary Canepari's 'Flint is a Place.' (Courtesy of Zackary Canepari)

The Guggenheim Foundation today named its 2017 fellows, and 16 are from Northern California, including Keith Hennessy, a San Francisco choreographer.

“It’s pretty dramatic. It’s pretty exciting. We did apply for it, so we knew it was possible,” he says.

Hennessy and the other fellows, all what the Guggenheim Foundation calls “advanced professionals,” will get about $50,000 in an unrestricted grant.

Dancer and choreographer Keith Hennessy
Dancer and choreographer Keith Hennessy (Photo: Courtesy of Keith Hennessy)

Other Bay Area recipients include scholars in the fields of computer science and psychology, and U.C. Berkeley Professor and composer Cindy Cox.

Jesse Rodin, an associate professor at Stanford, also won a Guggenheim. He's a specialist in late medieval and renaissance music, and leads a vocal ensemble that recently released a recording of music by Guillaume Du Fay. Rodin was amazed to discover that his  grandfather won a Guggenheim in 1929.


"Practically speaking," Rodin says, "the fellowship means more time to work on my scholarship, and it brings visibility to the music I’m studying."

Berkeley filmmaker Zackary Canepari says the money is critical to support his project Flint is a Place, a web series he started five years ago about Flint, Michigan, mixing film, photography, poetry, found objects, and news stories.

“It’s an incredible honor,” Canepari said by phone from Flint. "This is an experimental documentary project, and being independent, finding funding is always the name of the game. So being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship just provides so many opportunities to maintain the creative focus of the project, and be able to find an audience for it.”

Police in Flint Michigan, part of Guggenheim Fellowship winner Zackary Canepari's project 'Flint is a Place.'
Police in Flint Michigan, part of Guggenheim Fellowship winner Zackary Canepari's project 'Flint is a Place.' (Courtesy of Zackary Canepari)

Hennessy, on the other hand, says he’s not going to spend the money on his work. “This money just goes into my rainy day try-not-to-have-a-disaster-when-I’m-an-old-person fund,” says Hennessy, who is 58.

“The real value of the Guggenheim is the brand,” Hennessy adds. “The word Guggenheim means ruling class power. So when you get that brand attached to you, a whole bunch of people think you’ve arrived or that you’re important. And that’s what I would hope would help me in future projects.”