Masters Welcomes Artist-in-Residence for Weeklong Engagement

After spending a week with the Masters community, Jennifer Crandall, an award-winning filmmaker and journalist, was ready to enroll.

“I’ve said multiple times that maybe I should go to school at Masters,” she shared. “The level of creativity that I’ve seen by the students and the level of motivation and engagement with ideas has been really exciting for me.”

“Jenn’s visit presented an incredible opportunity to model how creativity, interdisciplinary thinking and ethical citizenship can be harnessed to tell stories that challenge and even change people’s perspectives about the world and the people in it,” said Sam Savage, associate head of school for faculty and academics. 

Born in Ethiopia and raised in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Haiti, Crandall spoke at upper and middle school Morning Meetings about her life and how questions about her identity fueled her video projects that focus on connection. She created the Emmy-nominated Washington Post series “onBeing,” a collection of video portraits about people she encountered and interviewed. It was a concept based on what she described as the simple notion that we should all get to know one another better — something she was happy to experience while on campus.

“After the Morning Meeting, many students came up and introduced themselves to me and said ‘hi,’ flashed smiles, and made me feel very comfortable,” she said. “That was really great.”

In addition to observing students’ dance and fencing sessions, Crandall led an artist salon and visited with film and journalism classes. “One thing that's incredible about her is her ability to engage people in conversation and draw people out and listen deeply and be present to their answers,” observed Ellen Cowhey, journalism teacher and Tower co-advisor. “I think the idea of being an attentive creative soul and putting that out into the world and it being received is a really powerful example to our students.”

Crandall is currently fundraising to finish her latest project, “Whitman, Alabama,” a 52-part documentary featuring American southerners who share verses from Walt Whitman’s epic poem “Song of Myself.”

“A professional asker of great questions, Jenn’s engagement with our community inspired many individuals,” Savage added. “Her work and her time with us provided all of us with inspiration about how to be a power for good.”