For nearly two decades, Rolex has had the Rolex Arts Initiative — a series where dozens of the world’s most reputed artists pass on their legacy to rising stars in the scene. Through two years of very close collaboration, ideas are discussed, and exceptional artistry is shared between mentor and protégé. It’s really rather fitting of a brand such as Rolex, which has always been about much more than simply creating great timepieces — representing a movement to give back to society. What’s particularly exciting about the program is that it brings together some of the greatest artists across the globe, along with up-and-coming individuals for an exchange that not only goes beyond geographic bounds, but also across generations.
A little bit of history. Two years ago, the 2018-2019 Arts Initiative had mentorships that took place in industries including architecture, dance, literature, and music. This year, things are a little different, as the programme will be addressing film, theatre, visual arts, as well as a newly introduced, flexible discipline — the “open category” membership.
A Look at the Mentors, and their Protégés
Considered one of the most influential names of his generation, American filmmaker Spike Lee is known for a repertoire of daring, socially-conscious work that spans over 35 feature films and documentaries. His most recent work was the award-winning Blackkklansman (2018).
His Protégé: Kyle Bell
Named a Sundance Indigenous Program Fellow, Native American filmmaker Kyle Bell has spent half a decade telling the stories of his people — or, as he put it, “stories that don’t get told, or whose voices are not heard.” As a director, director of photography, and film editor, his work includes the Emmy-winning documentary Osiyo: Voices of the Cherokee People, as well as other short documentaries which have been screened at film festivals all across the globe.
Reputed for her rather broad portfolio of bold and innovative theatre, opera, musical, and film productions, the British director is most known for advocating gender equality. With a large number of awards under her belt, some of her most prominent work includes the musical and film of Mamma Mia!, as well as The Iron Lady (2011).
Her Protégé: Whitney White
One of the most sought after young theatre-makers today in the United States, Whitney White stands out as a highly-accomplished director, musician/composer, and actress. She’s directed quite a wide range of theatrical genres, that range from classic numbers such as Othello, to the likes of What to Send up When it Goes Down — a play that explores racialized violence.
Carrie Mae Weems
Known for her artwork that spans image and text, films, videos, and performances, Carrie Mae Weems is also recognised for her many lectures, presentations, and working with individuals across a wide variety of disciplines. A lot of her work delves deep into issues related to sexism, racism, and the class divide. Among her highly-acclaimed work — many of which are exhibited at major institutions worldwide — is The KitchenTable Series (1989/1990).
Her Protégé: Camila Rodriguez Triana
Hailing from Columbia, the filmmaker and visual artist is known for creating work that comes with great emotional power. Like her mentor, a lot of her work questions the viewer, and does not shy away from portraying highly intimate relationships in everyday spaces. Her art has been showcased both in solo and group shows across South America and Europe, and she’s also been responsible for creating various acclaimed documentary features that delve into the limits between documentary and fiction.
A composer, lyricist, and actor, Lin-Manuel Miranda is well-recognised for his award-winning work — he’s received the Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony award, among many others. Having created and starred in Broadway’s Hamilton and In the Heights, he also received the 2015 MacArthur Foundation Award, and the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors. His filmography portfolio includes several notable work, including His Dark Materials, Saturday Night Live, and Mary Poppins Returns.
His Protégé: Agustina San Martín
To find out more about Rolex’s Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, visit rolex.org.