The Pierians Foundation, Incorporated

Transforming Generations Through The Arts


Arts education aids students in developing the skills needed in the workplace:

flexibility, the ability to solve problems and communicate, the ability to learn new

skills, to be creative and innovative, and to strive for excellence.”

The Foundation supports emerging artists who are on the threshold of a professional career in the performing, visual and literary arts, by providing monetary awards. Since 2010, the Foundation has presented the Emerging Artist Award (formerly the National Project Award) to deserving recipients who have demonstrated exceptional artistic potential. The Pierians, Incorporated proudly recognizes these exceptionally talented recipients of the Emerging Artist Award!


Njaimeh Njie (Photography & Multi-media) 2020 - 2022

Njie Njaimeh is a freelance videographer, photographer, writer and curator whose focus is social justice and cultural enrichment.  She is  “committed to working with young people, women and people of color – groups that are moving the needle forward in our culture, but that aren’t always represented fairly in media making.”

Njie lives in Pittsburgh and she earned her B.A in Film and Media Studies from Washington University in St. Louis in 2010. Her approach to filmmaking and photography is with an astute sense of storytelling focusing on how the past is shaping the present in African American communities.

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Njaimeh documents how contemporary African American residents perceive themselves in relation to their homes focusing on the people, their narratives and landscapes. In 2018, she was named the Emerging Artist of the Year by The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

Alexandra Hutchinson (Ballet Dancer) 2018 - 2020

Alexandra Elizabeth Hutchinson is an American ballet dancer who has studied formal classical ballet for more than 20 years at the Academy of the Dance in Delaware, The Washington School of Ballet, and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, with summer studies at Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Carolina Ballet, Ballet Chicago, L’Academie Americaine de Danse de Paris, and Nashville Ballet.


At the age of three, she began a daily regimen of classical Russian ballet training under the tutelage of Scottish born, three time world Highlands champion Victor Wesley at the Academy of the Dance in Wilmington, Delaware. Following her move to Washington, DC, she studied for eight years at The Washington School of Ballet (TWSB), where she was awarded the Virginia Johnson Scholarship for three years. Also, she was asked, by name, to perform in three professional productions of the Washington Ballet Company at the Kennedy Center and Shakespeare Theatre – Le Corsaire, The Great Gatsby, and Stars and Stripes.


At Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, she would become the first African-American woman since the conservatory was founded in 1921 to perform in the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Michael Vernon’s Nutcracker.

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In 2017, she joined the Nashville Ballet’s second company for one season. Alexandra has danced featured roles in Robert Garland’s New Bach, Michael Vernon’s The Nutcraker as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Arabian Queen, George Balanchine’s Western Symphony, and Paul Vasterling’s Sleeping Beauty. Her mentors include Septime Webre, Virginia Johnson, Violette Verdy, Arthur Mitchell, Victoria Simon, and Nilas Martins. She is the recipient of the Washington Ballet Virginia Johnson Scholarship and a Kennedy Center Honors Scholarship. She has appeared as a guest and performer on the CBS affiliate Great Day Washington.

Alexandra not only is one of the top emerging ballerinas in this region but acts also as a humanitarian and through many efforts demonstrates strong civic responsibility. While with the Washington Ballet, she performed for young audiences across the city, exposing uninitiated audiences to the world of ballet for the first time. While with the Nashville Ballet, through its community outreach efforts, she worked with youth and communities educating and initiating many underserved groups to ballet and performing in more than 15 events in children’s hospitals, schools, and community centers across the state. Most recently, in response to young girls of color seeing ballerinas for the first time, she has initiated a blog focused on self-esteem, nutrition, poise, etiquette, and exercise to inspire young black girls who aspire to dance.

She is currently featured in Robert Garland’s New Bach ballet and enjoys the distinction of being one of the last dancers to work with the legendary Arthur Mitchell before his death. Later this year, she will appear in Tones, one of his earliest works with the original company.

Alexandra resides in Harlem, New York where she enjoys photography and projects to encourage young black girls to dance. She is a member of the International Association of Blacks in Dance.

Dylan Guest (Artist) 2016 - 2018

Dylan Guest is an interdisciplinary artist from Baltimore, Maryland.  He attended the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology and then graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Sculpture. 


Dylan’s work includes paintings and drawings but his main focus is in sculpture where he explores a wide range of mediums to demonstrate his point of view.  A quiet child who rarely spoke due to learning disabilities, Guest found art-making to be a profound conduit for communication.  It was through his art that Guest credits his success and confidence during his early education.


In his early work, Guest used light, color and space to create three-dimensional references to science, nature, and man’s role in the world.  A lot of his work has focused on the struggles and triumphs of the individual which, he feels, directly reflects his own experiences. 

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After receiving the VSA Kennedy Center Grand Prize Award, Sustaining/Creating in 2012 for his sculpture titled Holding His Own, his work was featured in the group exhibition which displayed at the Smithsonian’s Dillon S. Ripley Museum, toured the United States and made a European stop in St. Petersburg, Russia. His work is featured on the cover of the debut CD for the music recording group Lynchpyn based in London, England. Dylan’s work was exhibited at the 25/40 Celebration, Focus Forward, curated by the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC and at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum. Dylan is the recipient of many additional awards including:

  • 2013 Young Arts finalist award
  • The Northern Baltimore County Arts Foundation Scholarship Award (2012)
  • The Pierians Incorporated Scholarship Award (2012)
  • Ed Smith Art Scholarship Fund (2012)
  • The NAACP - ACTSO- National- Gold Medal for Sculpture (2012)
  • The VSA-Kennedy Center and Volkswagon Group of America 2012 Sustaining/Creating Grand Prize Award

The Foundation is proud to honor Dylan Guest's exceptional artistic talents, and to present to him the National Project Award in support of his future endeavors as an aspiring young artist.

 Darian Clonts (Vocalist) 2014- 2016

Darian Clonts, a native of Austell, Georgia, was born with the gift of music. It became evident when, at the age of three, he began singing with the adult Male Chorus at his church. Darian continued to show interest in singing and directing with the church chorus and his voice grew stronger as time progressed. He attended high school at the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts (CCCEPA), where he was a vocal major. While there, Darian was recognized as Most Outstanding Male Vocal Performer as a sophomore, junior, and senior; and received numerous other awards, including Most Likely to Succeed. He studied voice under Tenor, Bradley Howard.


Darians musical ability earned him the Music Departments 2008 Presidential Scholarship at Morehouse College, where he was a Vocal Performance Major. He traveled the United States and Canada, singing Tenor in the Morehouse College Glee Club and the Morehouse College Glee Club QuartetAt Morehouse, he studied voice under Dr. Uzee Brown, Jr. and Dr. David Morrow.


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Darian also performed four seasons (2010-2013) as a member of the renowned Atlanta Singers, a professional vocal ensemble comprised of some of the region's finest soloists, who are dedicated to the art of small- ensemble choral singing. Other members of the Atlanta Singers included members of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and choral directors.

Darian spent the 2013-2014 season as a member of the Atlanta Opera Chorus. He was selected to perform in all three of the season’s productions: La Traviata, Carmen, and The Italian Girl in Algiers. In the fall of 2013, Darian began pursuit of his Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance at the Jacobs School of Music, at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. During his tenure at the University, he has performed in the chorus of HMS Pinafore. Earlier this year, Darian performed in the chorus of “Porgy and Bess” at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey. He was selected from a nationwide audition.

Listen as Darian Clonts performs in his Graduate Recital at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, on September 21, 2014, with an inspired interpretation of A Young Man's Exhortation.

Aaron B. McCoy-Jacobs (Vocalist) 2012- 2014

Aaron McCoy-Jacobs, a native of Burton, Michigan, graduated from Central Michigan University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in 2011, with a major in Vocal Performance (Opera). In 2001, at age 16, in conjunction with his violin studies, he began formal voice training at the Flint Institute of Music under the tutelage of Sylvia Pittman, department chair, and Shonda Thurman. He is presently studying with Nada Radaikovich, an accomplished soprano and author, who has premiered in the United States and Europe.


In 2004, he received the Chamber Singers scholarship award at the University of Michigan at Flint, and the St. Cecilia Scholarship Award for Voice at the Flint Institute of Music. In 2006, he was awarded a scholarship by the St. Paul Episcopal Church, Flint, and was the recipient of an award from the Norton Male Chorus in 2005. In 2011, he received the Emmy and Aurora Awards for Televised Pops Concert (sponsored by the Flint Symphony Orchestra). Aaron’s numerous operatic and musical productions include the Michigan Opera Theater (2005-2009), the Flint Jubilee Chorus, as lead tenor and member of the ensemble (2004), Eastern Michigan Symphony and Choir (2007), and the Detroit Symphony (2007), Flint Institute of Music (Spring 2006 Fundraiser), Assistant Master of Choruses and Principal Soloist with St. Paul Episcopal Church, Flint (2004-2006). Not only has he performed locally, but he has also performed at Carnegie Hall, in New York City, in Paris, France and in London, England.

Jonathan Woody (Vocalist) 2010 - 2012

Jonathan Woody is a native of Prince George's County, Maryland.  He attended and graduated from DeMatha Catholic High School. Jonathan graduated Magna cum laude from the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland receiving a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, with a GPA of 3.92.  While in high school, he was a member of the String Ensemble, the school band, and the all state chorus. He received numerous awards and certificates for participation in all of the above mentioned activities.


In 1997, Jonathan was the highest achieving student in the academically Talented Program in Math and Verbal Achievement at the John Hopkins University Summer Youth Program. In 1998, 1999, and 2000, Jonathan participated in county wide and state programs where he sang in the Senior All-State Chorus of Maryland's Music Educator's Association, the Prince George's County Festival and the Howard County for Black Educational and Cultural Achievement's campus visit to Washington University in St. Louis.  Jonathan is a classically trained vocalist, who has been studying music in some form since the age of four.  He studied Latin for five years, as well as French. He has spent time in Europe. He is a brilliant young man gifted with many talents.
Alicia Graf Mack (Dancer) 2005-2008
After a career as a dancer— she retired in 2014 from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and had been a lead dancer with both Dance Theatre of Harlem and Complexions Contemporary Ballet—Alicia Graf Mack joins Juilliard as director of the Dance Division. A graduate of Columbia University, where she majored in history, Graf Mack has a master’s in nonprofit management from Washington University in St. Louis. She’s danced as a guest performer with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Beyoncé, John Legend, Andre 3000, and Alicia Keys and made numerous festival and TV appearances. She began her teaching career while she was still dancing, teaching most recently at Webster University. Graf Mack, who was born in San Jose, Calif., and grew up in Columbia, Md., now lives in Madison, N.J., with her husband and their two children, Jordan (3) and Laila (1). She also co-founded D(n)A Arts Collective with her sister, hip-hop dancer Daisha Graf.