sage whitson

Apprenticeship Call for Black Trans Artists, Curators, or Technicians

Statement of interest due to EMPAC by March 6, 2023
News Type

*Deadline extension to March 6, 2023.

Artist Sage Ni’Ja Whitson seeks Black Trans* artists, curators, or technicians for a paid apprenticeship offering curatorial and technical experiences in Spring 2023. Apprentices will work with the artist, curator, and technical team at EMPAC—Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on the development and performance of Whitson’s new live work Transtraterrestrial, a prequel and premiere of The Unarrival Experiments – Unconcealment Ceremonies.

Apprentices must be available to work three hours per day for any six days during the period of March 27–April 6, 2023. Work takes place in-person on site at EMPAC located in Troy, NY. Apprentice will be asked to comply with Rensselaer COVID policies published at Each apprentice will receive a $900 stipend.

To Apply: Please send a statement of interest including weekly availability to by March 1, 2023 with the subject line “EMPAC Apprenticeship Opportunity.”


Sage Ni’Ja Whitson is the creator and director of an apprenticeship initiative that works with commissioning institutions to hire emerging Black Trans artists and technicians to work on the show and gain connectivity to leading artist institutions and to address systemic inequities in the arts. Whitson is United States Artist Fellow, Hermitage Fellow, Creative Capital and two-time “Bessie” Awardee based in Riverside, California. They are a Queer Nonbinary Trans/mogrifier multidisciplinary artist and futurist who ignores disciplinarity through a critical intersection of the sacred and conceptual in Black, Queer, and Transembodiedness. Whitson is also tenured professor in experimental choreography at the University of California, Riverside and a trained medicine worker and descendent of Black Indian root workers. Whitson’s medicine knowledges include herbalism (spiritual and clinical), Black and Indigenous somatics, and ritual leadership.


Transtraterrestrial, a prequel and premiere of The Unarrival Experiments – Unconcealment Ceremonies is a new live performance work by artist Sage Ni’Ja Whitson designed to amplify the dark. In dialogue with Yorùbá Cosmology, Astrophysics, and research on the “blackest black,” the work centers the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy through a Black, Queer, and Transembodied lens. Dark matter and dark energy serve as portals to interrogating spaces of the unknown, yet have an unequivocated impact on the composition of the universe. The performance and its environment takes an audience through an otherworldly dive into the dark. Led by space conductor, Trans Trappist the Extraterrestrial, this work traverses the dark as an ancestor, embodied transgender technology, and cosmic intervention. Transtraterrestrial happens inside and outside of a custom-built space|ship, which is uniquely designed as a futuristic space vessel covered in painted organic matter. Whitson is working with architect Valery Augustin to realize the first prototype of this space|ship at EMPAC, designed to aid in visualizing darkness while also allowing for the seamless integration of immersive VR, projection, and spatial audio. The space|ship cradles performers and witnesses in encounter, collectivity, medicines, and invisibilities.


EMPAC—The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is where the arts, sciences, and technology meet under one roof and breathe the same air. Four exceptional venues enable audiences, artists, and researchers to inquire, experiment, develop, and experience the ever-changing relationship between our senses, technology, and the worlds we create around us. The EMPAC curatorial program is dedicated to commissioning, producing, and presenting ambitious performances and artworks across music, time-based visual art, theater, and dance.

February 14, 2023