Schubert has recommended to the Dean of the Cathedral several new artists to take on three-year residencies, including an organist, a beekeeper (who tends to hives on the cathedral grounds), and two scholars. Eiko Otake, a dancer and performance artist, is among this more recent wave of residents; she uses the cathedral as her rehearsal and performance space.
Also a professor at New York University, Otake said she likes to bring her students to Saint John the Divine and hold class there. “I also perform there alone,” she added. “I use the space as an open studio.” At times, she’ll even interact with visitors who happen to be walking through.
Writer Elizabeth Howard is the newest resident and the cathedral’s inaugural L’Engle Fellow, working out of the Madeleine L’Engle Library. (Madeleine L’Engle, best known for her book A Wrinkle in Time, was once the cathedral’s librarian.) Howard is still working on envisioning projects for her tenure. “The cathedral gives you space to think about spirituality in all its realms,” she mused.
The Cathedral gives residents the freedom to explore the space as they see fit, continuing Dean Morton’s legacy of fostering community through creativity. Additionally, as in the days of Dean Morton, appointments to the residency program involve an internal vetting process, rather than a formal application. “If somebody has an idea (and thoughts related to funding), the door is open,” Schubert said. Her ultimate goal is to “reimagine and bring to life this incredible space,” she added. “I feel like there’s an inherent optimism to a place like this.”