About

Phantom Limb Company, New York City-based, is known for its work with marionette-puppetry and focus on collaborative, multi-media theatrical production and design. Co-founded in 2007 by installation artist, painter and set designer Jessica Grindstaff and composer and puppet maker Erik Sanko, Phantom Limb has been lauded for its unconventional approach to this venerable format. Phantom Limb includes a large rotating cast of friends, collaborators, artists, dancers and puppeteers. In their short career, Phantom Limb has produced “The Fortune Teller”, “Dear Mme.,”, “The Devil You Know” with Ping Chong, “Lemony Snicket’s The Composer Is Dead” with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and “69˚ S.” with The Kronos Quartet. Future productions include “Tesla in New York”, an opera directed by Jim Jaramusch with Composer Phil Kline, an installation based Peer Gynt in the forests of Norway, a kite opera, and “Memory Rings”, the life and times of the world’s oldest living tree.

Phantom Limb has received generous support and grants from the Jim Henson Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the National Science Foundation Artist and Writers Program, The New York State Composer’s Grant, the MAP Fund, Edith Luytens and Norman Bel Geddes Design Enhancement Fund as well as being Hermitage Artist Residency Fellows and Recipients of the Bay Area Critics Circle Award.


Erik Sanko, Artistic Director, Founder, Composer & Puppet Designer

Erik Sanko is best known as a fixture of the NYC downtown music scene, having recorded and toured with John Cale, Yoko Ono, Gavin Friday, Jim Carroll, James Chance and the Contortions among others as well as being a 16-year veteran of The Lounge Lizards and his own band, Skeleton Key. In 2006, his first complete puppet play, The Fortune Teller, debuted at HERE Arts Center in New York City. The Kronos Quartet commissioned Erik to create “Dear Mme.,” an original music composition and marionette play for the 25th Anniversary of the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Erik composed and performed music for Ulrike Quade's The Wall and in 2007 Erik formed Phantom Limb with Jessica Grindstaff, under which all of their subsequent projects have been created. With Phantom Limb he scored and designed marionettes for Ping Chong’s “The Devil You Know” and designed marionettes for the Lemony Snicket production “The Composer is Dead” at The Berkeley Repertory Theater in Dec. 2010. For 2013-14, Erik will be collaborating with Phil Kline and Jim Jarmusch on an opera about Nikola Tesla. Erik is presently working on an adaptation of Peer Gynt, a marionette play with kites and a piece about the world’s oldest living tree. He holds a B.F.A. from Cooper Union and has been a closet puppet maker since childhood.


Jessica Grindstaff, Artistic Director, Founder & Set Designer

Jessica Grindstaff is a New York City-based artist who has been known as a creator of haunting, meticulously constructed music box dioramas and paintings in wax and chalkboard as well as a jewelry line/ on-going performance piece of prize ribbons and medals. Within the context of Phantom Limb company she is a creative director that consistently takes a fine art approach to set design and has a strident commitment to making collaborative theatrical work. Jessica has collaborated with such diverse artists as: Mark Z. Danielewski, Ulrike Quade, the Kronos Quartet, Ping Chong, Geoff Sobelle of RainPan and Charlotte Ford. In 2010 Jessica production designed Lemony Snicket’s “The Composer is Dead” at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and began a collaboration on an opera about Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla, composed by Phil Kline and directed by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. Her most recent project, “69˚S.” has brought Jessica to a teaching residency in Melbourne Australia, a research residency with original expedition journals at Dartmouth College, residencies at Brooklyn Academy of Music, MASS MoCA, EMPAC, the Grand Theatre in the Netherlands and most dramatically to the continent of Antarctica itself. Currently she is in development on several new projects, most notably a Peer Gynt taking place in a forest and a project about the world’s oldest living tree entitled “Memory Rings”. Jessica is co-founder and art director of Phantom Limb and continues to have a diverse and creative engagement with interior set design, installation and fabrication for commercial clients.


User Staff Photo 3Sophie Hunter, Collaborating Director and Conceiver

Sophie Hunter is a British director and performer currently working in New York. She studied at Oxford University and Jacques Lecoq, Paris and has devised, directed and performed in theatre, opera and performance pieces in Europe, the Middle East and the US. Most recently she directed Phantom Limb's 69 Degrees South. She was selected to be the 2011 British artist in residence at Location One in SoHo. In New York she adapted and directed a new version of Ibsen's Ghosts and created an installation/performance of Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia. Other directing credits include: Enron (Associate Director - Royal Court, West End, Broadway) and The Terrific Electric (Barbican) for which she was awarded the Oxford Samuel Beckett Award for new voices in experimental theatre. She has devised and performed in international touring productions of Silverland (Arcola, Brits Off Broadway NYC), Hamlet (Al Bustaan Festival, Beirut), Volpone (Avignon Festival), Ubu Roi (BAC). Forthcoming projects include Peer Gynt with Phantom Limb, Benjamin Britten’s The Rape Of Lucretia (New York) and a large scale site specific piece inspired by Mort Lichter's Old Timers’. Sophie is also a member of performance collective The Militia Canteen.


User Staff Photo 4Josh Reisner, Web Development

Josh Reisner is an independent developer with over a decade of experience in web design and implementation for corporate clients and non-profits, largely based in New York City. Credits include work for the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, New York City Department of Design and Construction, and Department of Housing Preservation and Development. He also maintains websites for friends and collaborators.


User Staff Photo 5Gia Wolff, Collaborating Architectural Designer

Gia Wolff is an architectural designer who has always been compelled by the workings of performance and its use of space and objects to convey narrative, form, and emotion. She is interested in architecture that embodies a reciprocal relationship between the user and the built environment and questions the performative aspects of the discipline. Her work isn't about rational functionalism, and static objects are just too removed from the sharpness of situations. Instead, the work requires users to actively question how they relate both in time and scale.

Wolff has worked at the architecture practices of Acconci Studio, Adjaye Associates, and LOT-EK. She received a master's degree in Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2008 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design in 2001. Wolff is an Assistant Professor Adjunct of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union where she teaches the first year architectural drawing class with Professor Michael Webb. She is also a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute where she teaches undergraduate design studios.


User Staff Photo 6Becky Yurek, Collaborating Architect

Becky Yurek is an architect, landscape designer, and unsanctioned explorer whose critical wanderings have brought her from the border islands of Venice to the salt flats of Utah, though she nurtures a special love for the quotidien sub/urban territories in between. Her design work springs from a similar desire: locating both joy and strangeness in everyday things, exposing the unadorned pleasure of direct human experience with the world. Becky holds a long-standing conviction that the best work results from transgressing disciplinary lines, and she has sought out collaborations across architecture, urban design, landscape, product design and theater, among others. Her projects, built and speculative, have included urban and public space interventions, residential landscapes and architecture, furniture and ice cream. In addition to her independent work, Becky has practiced with Marpillero Pollak Architects, Hargreaves Associates and, currently, Leroy Street Studio. She holds a BA from Brown University and an M.Arch from the University of Virginia, where she graduated with the faculty's top honors.

Aboutjandesite Erik Sanko and Jessica Grindstaff, co-founders of Phantom Limb Company.