Meet our 2023 Artists-in-Residence!

April 5, 2023

We are thrilled to announce seven new artists for Mount Auburn’s Artist-in-Residence program, now in its ninth year. Between April 2023 and April 2024, the artists will be working on original site-specific creative projects inspired by an in-depth experience at the cemetery. All projects will be presented to the public and announcements will be made on our website, e-newsletters, and on social media.

Swati Biswas

SWATI BISWAS is a Boston-based dancer and choreographer. Trained in Indian classical dance, she has performed at events throughout the United States. She received her Kathak, Bharatnatyam, and creative dance (Uday Shankar Style) training from her Guru (teacher), Pradipta Niyogi, in India and later continued taking Bharatnatyam lessons from Ms. Monica Cooley in Nashville TN. After moving to Boston in 2016, she continued to perform in several community events, directing and choreographing solo and group performances for youth and adults. Swati has a PhD in Biology and has been doing academic research for 15 years. She is currently a medical writer at a reputable pharmaceutical company.

For her residency, Swati will choreograph and perform a series of original dance pieces that celebrate the beauty of seasonal change at Mount Auburn.

Resa Blatman
Resa Blatman

RESA BLATMAN is a Somerville-based visual artist who works on varying projects including large-sized, wall-mounted art installations, mixed-media paintings, and drawings. Her primary studio practice consists of commissions and public art projects that speak to her reverence for nature. She recently completed several public art installations: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston (2022); the City of Hope Lennar Foundation Cancer Center, California (2022); Denver Health, Colorado (2020); Texas A&M University, Texas (2019). Resa’s paintings are in collections at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Ga; Noble and Greenough School, Dedham, Ma; Dana Hall School, Wellesley, Ma; Twitter; Fidelity; Hilton Hotel; The WH Ming Hotel, China; and in the UAE and Europe. She exhibits her work at universities and art institutions throughout the U.S. Her work has been reviewed in publications including The Boston Globe, Ecoconsciousness, Boston Society of Architects, Art New England, SupersonicArt, Booooooom, among others. She received her M.F.A. from Boston University and her BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art + Design. Resa is represented by Childs Gallery, Boston. (

For her residency, Resa will create a hanging art installation that features a series of ethereal tree drawings.

Artist Interview

Billy Hickey

BILLY HICKEY is a nature photographer from Massachusetts. In his personal work Billy makes stories about the intersections of the natural and human worlds covering topics such as falconry, light pollution, fireflies, and goats. Billy’s passion is learning about nature and sharing its wonders through photography with the hope to educate and inspire. In 2020 he graduated from the International Center of Photography and his project “How We Were” won first place in Lensculture’s Black and White Photography Awards. Billy’s work has been featured in the Eastern Mass. Hawkwatch’s Newsletter, Buzzfeed News, and the New York Times. (

For his residency, Billy will create documentary-style photographs of Mount Auburn’s natural ecosystem and the humans who support, study, and preserve it.

Artist Interview

Carolyn Oliver

CAROLYN OLIVER is the author of The Alcestis Machine (Acre Books, forthcoming 2024) and Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, 2022; selected by Matthew Olzmann for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry), as well as three chapbooks. Her poems appear in The Massachusetts Review, Copper Nickel, Poetry Daily, Shenandoah, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, At Length, Plume, and elsewhere. Her honors include the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, the E. E. Cummings Prize from the NEPC, the Frank O’Hara Prize from The Worcester Review, and nominations for the Pushcart Prize in both poetry and fiction. Born in Buffalo and raised in Ohio, Carolyn now lives with her family in Worcester, Massachusetts. (@CarolynROliver on Instagram;

For her residency, Carolyn will write and recite a polyphonic poem (aka a long lyric poem) about Mount Auburn.

Artist Interview

Eden Rayz

EDEN RAYZ is a Boston-based composer, cellist, and vocalist. In May of 2022, she self-released her debut solo album Corpus Vice. The album was written in response to climate grief and as functional music to aid listeners in introspection. She is the front person for death metal bands Angel Grinder and Scaphism. As a session cellist, she has recorded and performed with bands including Moon Tooth and Third Eye Blind, and improvised on soundtracks including the 2023 Grammy-winning Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök. Her solo flute works have been performed at Carnegie (Weill) Recital Hall and her chamber works have premiered at Musiikkitalo in Helsinki, Finland and in Cortona, Italy. Eden has lectured on string performance, graphic notation, and composition at Berklee College of Music, Harvard University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

For her residency, Eden will reconstruct the recently removed Bigelow Chapel organ pipes into a new instrument which will be played like a gamelan. She will write a set of original compositions for the new organ-like instrument, similar to Buddhist death awareness meditations. 

Debra Wise

DEBRA WISE co-founded Underground Railway Theater in 1979, for 30 years touring a socially-engaged repertoire to theaters and communities, as well as puppet spectacles commissioned by major orchestras. In 2007, she co-founded Central Square Theater, helming award-winning productions as Artistic Director (e.g. Vanity Fair; black odyssey boston, with Front Porch; Constellations; The Convert) and directing (Christmas Carol, adapted for actors and puppetry). Recent acting appearances include: The Half-Life of Marie Curie, Vanity Fair (CST); Much Ado About Nothing (Commonwealth Shakespeare); Escaped Alone, Dolls House 2 (Gamm); People Places & Things (Speakeasy); upcoming: Angels in America (CST). She currently is program director of Catalyst Collaorative@MIT (CST’s science/theater partnership), and is Producing Artistic Director for a new project about Black abolitionist history in Northeast Ohio, working with playwright Ifa Bayeza ( With URT Founding Director Wes Sanders, she co-authored a digital book documenting URT’s first decades:

Eliza Fichter

ELIZA FICHTER (she/they) is a theater maker and visual artist from Massachusetts. Eliza has taught theater workshops across the country in museum galleries, public schools, performing arts centers, prisons, assisted living facilities and military bases, and has worked as a teaching artist with Olney Theater Center, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, The Putney School and New Repertory Theatre. Regional theatre projects include BEDLAM and The Nora Theatre Company (The Crucible), Central Square Theater (The Revolutionists), Underground Railway Theater (Matchless & The Happy Prince), and Olney Theatre Center (Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors, Odyssey). As a printmaker, Eliza’s work explores interdependence in relation to the environment and the human body. Eliza received a BFA in Acting from Boston University and a MEd in Arts Education from Harvard University. In graduate school, Eliza researched natural deathcare practices and interviewed dozens of end-of-life care workers and advocates throughout Massachusetts.

For their residency, this mother-daughter duo will create a series of audio stories crafted from interviews with people connected to Mount Auburn. The audio stories will explore how and why we talk with each other about death and with whom we have those conversations.

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