The In Kinship Archives & Performance Fellowship

Introducing the Fellows!

We are thrilled to welcome four Archives & Performance Fellows:

Lilah Akins is an artist and filmmaker, currently working on her second BA at the University of Southern Maine's Geography-Anthropology program with a focus in Cultural and Natural Heritage Management. She was born and raised on Oahu, Hawaii, and is an enrolled member of the Penobscot Nation and also of Jewish, Cherokee, and settler-colonial descent.

Emilia Dahlin ( is a singer, songwriter, and teaching artist who's interested in what creates and sustains healthy communities. She garners great joy from collaborating and co-creating with young, budding music-makers to elevate their voices. Emilia believes that music and storytelling are are essential to our being and some of the most powerful tools to foster connection between people and to create positive social change.

Devon Kelley-Yurdin ( is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and cultural organizer based in Portland, Maine. They were born and raised in Vermont and hold a BFA in Communications Design & Cultural Studies from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. They are grounded in the belief that creativity can be found everywhere and plays a deep role in holistic community care; play, curiosity, queerness, accessibility, equity, and skill-building drive their work, relationships, and life experiences. Their work spans traditional media (printmaking, cut-paper, installation), design/illustration/art direction, event production, arts administration, and community organizing.

Tyler Rai ( is an improvisor, dancer, and collaborative artist currently based in Amherst, Massachusetts (Nipmuck/Pocumtuc territory). Through performance and movement improvisation, her research questions how we embody kinship and relational empathy with the other/more-than-human-world. She is currently developing a body of research focused on grief and reverence for the glacial bodies of this earth.

In Kinship Archives & Performance Fellows  Devon Kelley-Yurdin, Lilah Akin, Tyler Rai, and Emilia Dahlin

In Kinship Archives & Performance Fellows Devon Kelley-Yurdin, Lilah Akin, Tyler Rai, and Emilia Dahlin


What possibilities emerge when we look at social repair and environmental care as public, creative acts? The Archives & Performance Fellowship is a year-long opportunity with stipends for four Fellows that follows the tradition of Wabanaki Guiding, connecting Native and non-Native people to place through experience, language, and story. Fellows will experiment with research and performance approaches to understand stories and histories of the Penobscot River and watershed. They will collaborate to create new work, inspired by their learning, that addresses ecological recovery and social justice. Fellowship activities will be led by Penobscot Nation partners and will center indigenous knowledge and experience.

The Fellowship year will include a regular check-in schedule, workshops and skill-shares, two intensives that immerse Fellows in research and performance methods, and a public performance and/or presentation of work created. This work may take many forms including but not limited to narrative play scripts, research papers, multi-media and video-based performance, spoken word, movement-based work, music and songwriting, cross-genre journals and/or any combination of forms and formats. Fellows will receive a $1500 stipend, dramaturgical/research support, connections with the broader In Kinship community, photo and video process documentation, and space to present their work.

The broad goal of this project is to activate potential for richly layered research, cross-discipline dialogue, and creative process to shift public understanding of our shared environments and histories. It is driven by a desire to understand how the (hi)story of the Penobscot River is preserved and told and, at the same time, to work against linear, progress-based narratives of the river that represent the past as something static that is disconnected from the present and future.


Fellows should expect to commit about 5 hours per week to fellowship activities (more during the May and September research intensives) until the rehearsal period beginning in February 2020. During the rehearsal period, Fellows should expect to commit about 10 hours per week. An overview of the schedule follows:

  • June 2019: Fellowship Orientation Gathering at University of Maine, Orono

  • June-August 2019: Check-ins, short workshops scheduled in consultation with Fellows

  • October 2019: Guided on-river research intensive

  • November 2019: Archival research intensive at University of Maine, Orono

  • December 2019 - March 2020: Check-ins, short workshops scheduled in consultation with Fellows, work shares

  • April 2020: Rehearsals for final showing scheduled in consultation with Fellows

  • May 2020: Public showing of Fellowship project(s)

  • June 2020: Fellowship reflections and celebration

Projects/platforms we find inspirational, and examples of projects Fellows might dream up, include:

Listening to Country (Marrugeku)
Thoreau-Wabanaki 150th Anniversary Tour
Walking at the Edge of Water (Dancing Earth)
Geyser Land (Mary Ellen Strom/Ann Carlson)
Works on Water
Building a Better Fishtrap (Angela's Pulse)
Then A Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing At Stars (Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance)
Dancing Sovereignty (Mique'l Dangeli)
Mare Liberum
Dear Enemy (Christy Gast)
36.5 / a durational performance with the sea (Sarah Cameron Sunde)
Center for Humans and Nature
Superhero Clubhouse
Initiative for Indigenous Futures

About In Kinship

Produced by Open Waters (, In Kinship is a multi-year community art and performance project that looks at how we connect and care for each other within the Penobscot River Watershed ecosystem.

About the Fellowship Co-Creators:

Cory Tamler, Project Director and In Kinship Lead Artist

Cory Tamler ( is a writer, translator, and interdisciplinary artist whose practice is rooted in theatre, performance as research, and community organizing. She has created research-based performance projects in the U.S., Germany, and Serbia, and is a core artist with civic arts organization Open Waters (Maine). Cory has been a Fulbright Scholar (Berlin) and a Fellow at the New Museum for Contemporary Art. As a Ph.D. student at The Graduate Center, CUNY, she studies open-ended artistic work from social practice to community-based theatre. She teaches at Brooklyn College and is a member of Commitment Experiment, an experimental performance collective.

Darren Ranco, Ph.D., Educational Coordinator

Darren Ranco is a faculty member with the University of Maine’s Department of Anthropology, as well as the Chair of Native American Programs and Coordinator of Native American Research. His research focuses on the ways in which indigenous communities in the United States resist environmental destruction by using indigenous diplomacies and critiques of liberalism to protect cultural resources, and how state knowledge systems continue to expose indigenous peoples to an inordinate amount of environmental risk. Ranco is a member of the Penobscot Nation, and is particularly interested in how better research relationships can be made between universities, Native and non-Native researchers, and indigenous communities. Ranco is also involved in developing mentoring programs for Native American students at the University of Maine and developing a statewide STEM education program for Native American students.

Jennie Hahn, Producing Director & In Kinship Lead Artist

Jennie Hahn is a civic performance artist working at the intersections of environmental stewardship, ecological arts practice, and public dialogue in her home state of Maine. Projects include Farms & Fables, an original play created in collaboration with Maine farmers, and a co-designed partnership to incorporate performance techniques into policy development practices with Stephanie Gilbert of the Maine Department of Agriculture. Since 2015, Jennie has curated In Kinship, a collection of collaborative civic performance works focused on environmental resilience and ecological recovery in the Penobscot River Watershed. Jennie is an MFA student in Intermedia at the University of Maine, Orono.

This project is made possible, in part, through a grant from the Network of Ensemble Theaters’ Travel & Exchange Network (NET/TEN), supported by lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.