What is the future of art? The 2021 Creative Capital Artist Retreat opened our minds to the exciting new directions of where artists are leading us and connects artists with the vital resources, experts, and networks to make their visions a reality. This year, our online gathering welcomed guests from the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Lebanon, France, Greece, UK, Italy, and Canada. Enjoy the digital archive of the Retreat below! Tap on each of the artists’ names and project titles to expand the video and start watching.

It is thanks to the support and participation of our community that enables artists and makes their work possible. Your tax-deductible gift to Creative Capital goes directly to making artists’ dreams a reality.

Donate Now


The Artist Retreat presentations took place online June 23-24, 2021. Guests were welcomed by Christine Kuan (President & Executive Director of Creative Capital), Annie Han (Creative Capital Board Chair & Awardee), and Sharon Bridgforth (Retreat Host & Creative Capital Awardee). Each discipline section opened with a few words by leaders in the arts.

Opening Remarks
Annie Han, Board Chair & Creative Capital Awardee

Christine Kuan, President & Executive Director

An Introduction from Retreat Host:
Sharon Bridgforth, Creative Capital Awardee

Welcome Back for Day 2
Christine Kuan, President & Executive Director

Performing Arts & Multidisciplinary Presentations

Introduced by Joseph V. Melillo and Colleen Jennings-Roggensack. From a stadium-based performance with extended-reality wearables to a show exploring new language to express the story of the trans body, these presentations demonstrate bold new visions for the performing arts.


Joseph V. Melillo, Board of Directors

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Board of Directors


Eisa Davis
The Essentialisn’t

The Essentialisn’t troubles expected narratives of the diasporic black feminine and questions the artist’s relationships to performance and captivity. The work utilizes an innovative combination of song, electronic sound, movement, everyday objects, and reanimated modernist figures from the Harlem Renaissance to cultivate a practice of presence and sovereignty.

More about Eisa Davis

Will Rawls

The Latin adverb sic is used in brackets to identify an intentional “error” when quoting someone, emphasizing the “wrongness” of someone’s speech in a standard English narrative. For Will Rawls, [sic] is a useful metaphor for how the language and gestures of black bodies are captured, quoted or misquoted, and circulated to appear strange in various media. Through stop-motion animation and a live performance, [siccer] challenges the limits of citation while exploring the meaningful strangeness found at the edges of sense.

More about Will Rawls

Samora Pinderhughes
The Healing Project

The Healing Project is a boundary-breaking multidisciplinary music, film, and installation project exploring the realities of incarceration, policing, violence, and detention in the United States. The central material is found in recorded collaborative exchanges which serve as the melodic and narrative underpinnings of the pieces. The rationale for this project is the urgency of the moment. The Healing Project uses music, film, and people’s stories in their own voices to unveil the true damages of American carceral institutions, and then engages alternative ways for us to protect, heal, and support each other outside of these oppressive systems.

More about Samora Pinderhughes

Martha Redbone & Aaron Whitby
Black Mountain Women

Black Mountain Women is a devised, interdisciplinary theater work about a woman who returns for a funeral on Black Mountain, Appalachia—coalmining country and the main character’s ancestral homeland where her family has dwelled for centuries. The family is in imminent danger of permanent displacement due to strip-mining and mountaintop removal threatening their environment, echoing previous generations who were forced onto the Trail of Tears. As crisis threatens the family, Black Mountain Women moves between present day and dreams, a magical world where the ancestors and the tree spirits merge with the living, unearthing stories that change the lives of them all.

More about Martha Redbone & Aaron Whitby

Jawwaad Taylor
Start With Self

Start With Self is a sonic stimulation and visual art piece based on scientific research on how certain frequencies stimulate endorphins in the body that lessen pain and relaxes the mind. Jawwaad Taylor’s project is based on his research and experience with sonic healing as a sickle-cell anemia survivor.

More about Jawwaad Taylor

Derek McPhatter
NightQueen Performance Suite

NightQueen is an ecological, Afro-surreal performance suite that tells the story of an ensemble seeking hope in one another as their world is transformed by a global water crisis, unbridled network technologies, and resurgent fascism. Three evening-length works blend theater, music, and oral storytelling traditions to conjure a mythology reflecting the contemporary Black experience. It is an affirmation of the diversity, beauty, creativity, and resilience of Black life in opposition to the modern day forces that continue to debase Black communities.

More about Derek McPhatter

Cristal Chanelle Truscott
Plantation Remix

Plantation Remix, a site-responsive acapella musical, will be performed at historic plantations and related sites to revisit, raze and reimagine the separatist genre of plantation tourism by rehabilitating the singular story of antebellum glory through shared histories and multiperspective narratives of both enslaved and slave-holding families and their descendants, with a central tenet that no American identity—across a multicultural range of experiences—is left uninformed by the systemic and sociocultural descendants of US Slavery.

More about Cristal Chanelle Truscott

Julian Terrell Otis
Resolved: Critiquing Classical Music Through Improvised Performance

Julian Terrell Otis’s memories of participating in his high school debate team are tinted by inequity, stifling opportunities the experience intended to provide for academic exploration, travel, and community. In the face of inequity, he and his peers improvised solutions to win cases. In his performance Resolved, Otis applies this improvisation to tackle similar inequities around contemporary music circles. Using the artist’s experience on the debate team and their use of critical race theory as inspiration, the work facilitates dialogue and musical expression by convening the music and debate communities in knowledge sharing, rehearsals, and performance.

More about Julian Terrell Otis

Becca Blackwell
The Body Never Lies

The Body Never Lies is a solo, performance-based theatrical search for a vocabulary beyond language that expresses who we are. Through movement, qigong, science and some fragmented texts in various languages, Becca Blackwell uncovers a new landscape for themselves and the audience to discover identity.

More about Becca Blackwell

Dorian Wood
Canto de Todes

Emphasizing the urgency of folk music as a vessel for social change, Dorian Wood’s Canto de Todes is a genre-defying canon of songs arriving in the form of a printed anthology, a recorded album, and a long-durational touring spatial experience.

More about Dorian Wood

Jibz Cameron & Sue Slagle
Titanic Depression

Titanic Depression is a multimedia performance with live animation starring Dynasty Handbag, alter ego of artist Jibz Cameron. Using the 1997 film Titanic as a departure point, the work addresses issues of class, gender roles, gratuitous wealth, and the environmental impact of climate change.

More about Jibz Cameron & Sue Slagle

Lars Jan

Roam is a performance set on a sports field (or massive space) that speculatively traces one branch of the Afghan side of the artist’s family tree 40,000 years into the past. Performers will lead audiences wearing AR-glasses to roam around a stadium that transforms into a river-carved valley, where bleachers are tree-covered mountains and other participants become Sapiens and Neanderthals who evolve, migrate, and branch toward the arc of the artist’s complex family history in Afghanistan. Through emerging technologies and theater, Roam weaves themes of human migration, personal history, and ecological collapse on an epic scale.

More about Lars Jan

Janice Lowe, Tyehimba Jess, Yahdon Israel

Olio is a live musical production of the Pulitzer-prize winning book of poems of the same title, presenting the lives of African-American creatives from the Civil War to World War I.

More about Janice Lowe, Tyehimba Jess, and Yahdon Israel

Shontina Vernon
Forging Ahead

Forging Ahead is an experimental narrative feature film drawing upon a hybrid form of cinema and theatre performance to tell the story of a young woman confronting the impact and dissociative nature of incarceration on her adult life. When the process of evolving a solo show collides the central protagonist with a younger version of herself in need of rescue, this dramedy unfolds in surprising ways to illuminate the journey to voice and agency those scarred by the criminal justice system must take.

More about Shontina Vernon

Tomeka Reid
Women of the AACM

The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) is a group of Chicago-based avant-garde jazz musicians that began in 1965 organizing around their theory of music, known largely for their male artists. As AACM moves towards its 60th anniversary, Women of the AACM celebrates the contributions of its female practitioners who have been an important part of the organization and its history through interviews, scores, photographs, discographies, new works, audio files, and artistic endeavors such as visual art, poetry, and documentation.

More about Tomeka Reid

Marie Lorenz, Dana Spiotta, Kurt Rohde
Newtown Odyssey

The Newtown Creek is one of the most polluted industrial sites in the US, but traveling there by boat, gliding through reflections of New York City, can be a beautiful experience. Set upon the creek, Newtown Odyssey presents a non-traditional opera heard amid sounds of the surrounding traffic and industry. Written more like a travel diary, the score of the opera can be experienced in phases, reshuffling the narrative, giving each audience an entirely different experience of the work. Performers sing aboard moveable and floating stages, and the audience pass by in boats, connecting them physically to the opera’s themes of climate change, environmental justice, and civic responsibility.

More about Marie Lorenz, Dana Spiotta, and Kurt Rohde

Papel Machete
On the Eve of Abolition

On the Eve of Abolition is an original 60-80 minute bilingual (Spanish-English), live/recorded multimedia performance about the last day of the last prison in transnational liberated territories of what was known as the US and Mexico, after a movement of abolitionists has created the conditions to end the prison industrial complex. The story is set in 2047 and imagines abolition camps, formerly incarcerated people, families and activists outside of the prisons, and from within, prisoners organized in this final moment to end all prisons. They will use rod and table puppets, masks, shadow puppet theater, projection, and cantastoria (picture storytelling). The play is a radical imaginary sci-fi story based on current conditions in the US and Puerto Rico, grounded in and connected to ongoing struggles for prison abolition.

More about Papel Machete

estrellx supernova
Encuentro 33: LINE/AGE, Queer Neurocognitive Architectures Hidden in Plain Site(s)

Encuentro 33 is a multiphase project created in partnership with an emergent core group of Black, Indigenous, First-Generation, Queer, Trans Artists of Color within and outside of Turtle Island, or the United States. Through this project, the group comes together to instigate a series of performance and ritual-based actions that excavate ecology, ancestry, pleasure, healing, and socially-engaged praxis through a choreographic lens. These works provide infrastructure for bringing estrellx supernova’s vision of opening La Escuela de Cariño, Corporealidad y Artes Sutiles/The School of Tenderness, Embodied Kinetics, & Alchemical Arts to fruition. La Escuela is a multidimensional shape-shifting space that takes the form of a queer club, healing center, choreographic innovation research incubator, performance venue, and farm designed by and in service to Black, Indigenous, Queer Trans, People of Culture (BIQTPOC) and allies, and will reflect the wisdom and intelligence of our plasticity, resonance, and cosmic frequencies. La Escuela centers the voices of BIQTPOC survivors, artists, activists, healers, herbalists, innovators, and creative thinkers and aims to become a main hub where they can co-create alternative realities, infrastructure, economies, and paradigms that serve our individual and collective liberation. La Escuela will divest from what no longer serves, will be intercultural, international, and interdisciplinary in scope, and will make the impossible, possible, the invisible, visible. The group will learn through stillness, slowing down, rigorous embodiment, somatics, and attending to our wounds, inner children, and wildest dreams.

More about estrellx supernova

Nia Witherspoon
Priestess of Twerk: A Black Femme Temple to Pleasure

Inspired by the “bad bitches” of hip hop, the reproductive justice movement, and the sacred sex workers that graced Egyptian temples, Priestess of Twerk is a Black feminist temple of pleasure that presents women, queer, and trans-folks of color with opportunities to re-encounter their sexualities through the lens of the sacred, increasing bodily autonomy, and dispelling toxic masculinity.

More about Nia Witherspoon

Literary Arts & Multidisciplinary Presentations

Introduced by Lewis Hyde. Using poetry, nonfiction, fiction, essays, and theoretical discourse, these writers employ literary techniques to explore pressing issues and experiment with new storytelling methods.


Lewis Hyde, National Advisory Council


Legacy Russell

BLACK MEME identifies points across history—beginning in the 1900s and traveling through to the 21st century—that have paved the way for the notion of the “meme” as we understand it today, setting the stage for the construct of digital virality. Throughout her research-based project, Legacy Russell defines “Black meme” through the notion of “the copying and transmission of blackness-as-memetic-material.” Citing sources across a wide gamut of archival media, the project explores the impact of Blackness, Black life, and Black social death on contemporary conceptions of virality borne in the age of the Internet.

More about Legacy Russell

Marcia Douglas
Genuine Herstory: Documythographies

Genuine Herstory: Documythographies is a three-volume, hybrid, and cross-genre writing project culminating with a performance installation. Exploring themes of African diasporic fugitivity and migration, this project layers fiction, poem essays, memoir, visual and material documents, and voicescapes—altering and inscribing, in an effort to excavate and rechart history.

More about Marcia Douglas

Simone White
or, on being the other woman

In her book and performance or, on being the other woman, Simone White interweaves a long poem with a theoretical essay bringing post-Marxist materialism into conversation with Black studies. Inspired by the many questions trap music raises about what “social” means for Black women, a performance embeds the writing in a sound and movement environment to ask, what is a Black woman who works to live, and what is sexual freedom?

More about Simone White

Marc Anthony Richardson
The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast

In The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast, seven Black assassins are assigned to reciprocate violence inflicted on the Black community by taking the life of a white person, according to the day of the week that it happened. The speculative novel takes place during a day of rioting, after the white rapists and murderers of a Black girl are released from jail without charges, and the Black assassins seek retaliation. When Monday receives his assignment to kill the only white girl in his inner-city chess program, whom he taught as a child, he realizes he is platonically in love with her, and decides to save her.

More about Marc Anthony Richardson

Meng Jin
Mothers and Girls: A Fake Memoir

Mothers and Girls is a novel or “fake memoir” narrated by the daughter of a Chinese poet and a white American translator/scholar of Chinese literature. The narrator tells the story of the discovery of a fictional text, also titled Mothers and Girls, which interrogates the reliability of text, and conceives of and enacts authorship as performance. By playing with narrative expectations of autofiction—questioning a form that has itself arisen out of a questioning of form—Meng Jin complicates narratives of motherhood and girlhood, expands imaginaries of mental illness in non-Western contexts, and illuminates the lives of minority-written texts.

More about Meng Jin

Wendy S. Walters
A Dead White: An Argument Against White Paint

A Dead White is a book-length polemic against the use of white paint in both interior and exterior spaces. The argument will wind through a wide selection of works in architecture, manufacturing, art history, and consumer culture, engaging narratives related to its effect in the lived environment.

More about Wendy S. Walters

Mitchell S. Jackson
John of Watts: A Novel

John of Watts is a novel inspired by the story of Eldridge Broussard, a youth preacher and former basketball player who started the Ecclesia Athletic Association, a group now known as a cult. Through historical fiction, Mitchell S. Jackson conducts an exploration of contemporary American culture and history by looking at the relationship between cults and the American Dream, urban revolt, sports, and the links between the Watts Riots of 1965 and the LA Riots of 1992.

More about Mitchell S. Jackson

Sabrina Orah Mark
Happily: Essays on Fairytales and Motherhood

In 2017, Sabrina Orah Mark visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel, and saw Bruno Schulz’s rescued frescoes—fairytale figures peering out from under almost 80 years of whitewash. Mark’s essay project, Happily, considers the relationship between these cracked fairy tales and the Holocaust. In this new phase of her ongoing work, Happily—which began as a monthly column in The Paris Review— expands into a collection of writing on fairy tales and motherhood, using the fairy tale as a searchlight to shed light on the here and now. It is influenced by Mark’s personal history of raising two Black sons in the South, a culture and geography far from her own upbringing in Orthodox New York City.

More about Sabrina Orah Mark

Tonya Foster
Monkey Talk

Combining poetry, dialogues, fictive FBI records, and non-fiction prose, Monkey Talk follows a 20th century artist-philanthropist relationship that is being tracked by government surveillance and a young scholar’s curiosity. Focused on the ways that artistic creations act as monitors and are also monitored, the multi-volume project tracks parallel, contesting conversations around race.

More about Tonya Foster

Anne Finger
Wheeling in Berlin

Inspired by Franz Hessel’s similarly titled book that pioneered the concept of the flâneur, the meandering dandy, in Weimar Berlin, Anne Finger writes about her travels as a wheelchair–user. Wheeling in Berlin is a book of personal essays mapping disability upon the geography of the city. Some of the essays concern historical figures, while others engage with representations of disability in art and literature. By contesting what is too often assumed to be the central truth of disability—that it is a black hole of suffering—the essays evoke joy, sensuality, and meandering idleness.

More about Anne Finger

Quintan Ana Wikswo

In problemkinder, writer, transdisciplinary artist, and human rights fieldworker Quintan Ana Wikswo created six suites that each include a hybrid prose book, original photographs, videos and films, and solo and collaborative performance. problemkinder creates kinetic sites that subvert silencing, predation, repression, and genocide, and amplify resistance, rebellion, and frictions surrounding human rights atrocities. The project challenges the lethal constructed legacies surrounding white supremacy, terrorism, disability, queerness, gender, religion, indigeneity, warfare, forced migration, and reductive identity calcification. Wikswo’s three decades as a human rights fieldworker merged with her artistic practice as she returned to global microsites where she personally experienced—and worked against—clandestine crimes against humanity. Her process included repairing salvaged instruments and materials manufactured via forced labor and death camps, and redeploying them as tools for visibility, voice, reparation, and liberation.

More about Quintan Ana Wikswo

Randa Jarrar
Lunch at Guantánamo

Randa Jarrar’s newest book is a semi-satirical, fantastical novel set in 2045 Guantanamo Bay, inspired by and updating “The Penal Colony,” the short story by Franz Kafka. The book envisions a utopic queer future—one that offers its inhabitants peace, liberation, and justice.

More about Randa Jarrar

Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski & Terence Nance
Kiara Daja Diamond and the 777 Satisfactions

Kiara Daja Diamond and the 777 Satisfactions is a surrealist graphic novel and animated TV series that tells the story of Kiara, a young ruler-to-be, who must master 777 “satisfactions” (amalgams of skills, knowings, senses, and subjectivities) in order to arrive at knowledge of self-family, body-spirit, and space-time. This story grapples with existential trauma by exercising mystery to solve reason, rather than relying on reason to solve The Mystery.

More about Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski & Terence Nance

Visual Arts & Multidisciplinary Presentations

Introduced by Schwanda Rountree. These projects demonstrate the vast range of the visual arts, including new explorations using painting and sculpture, but also extending beyond traditional forms to include a video game about the experience of motherhood during a pandemic and a contemporary interpretation of Native Tongva ceremony.


Schwanda Rountree, National Advisory Council


Jen Liu
Pink Slime Caesar Shift

Pink Slime Caesar Shift is a project that proposes to alter the genetic material of cow cells in order to carry secret messages of labor activism for female factory workers in South China, taking the form of genetic engineering of cow cells, 3D-printer prototyped small-cast sculpture, and video/3D animation.

More about Jen Liu

Wafaa Bilal
In a Grain of Wheat: Cultivating Hybrid Futures in Ancient Seed DNA

In 2015, ISIS destroyed the Winged Bull of Nineveh, or lamassu, a 2,700 year-old Mesopotamian protective monument. Using leading-edge molecular biological archiving processes, Wafaa Bilal saves high-resolution 3D-scans of the sculpture inside the DNA of heirloom Iraqi wheat seeds, integrating the origins of civilization with postcultural planetary futures. Digital assets of the artwork, including the scanned data and cellular organisms, will be accessible for researchers, scholars, curators, and students, while the data-written wheat seeds will be preserved in seed banks. Site-specific installations of encoded wheat seeds, planted and grown, will celebrate the raw power of nature working creatively with humanity across the millennia.

More about Wafaa Bilal

Sandy Rodriguez
Book 13: After the Conquest—Codex Rodriguez Mondragon

As human rights abuses in the United States become more extreme, particularly with Latinx communities on both sides of the US-Mexico Border, Sandy Rodriguez performs interdisciplinary research on recuperating Indigenous knowledge systems like plant-use and pigment recipes. Book 13: After the Conquest – Codex Rodriguez Mondragon will expand this codex of research through an immersive multiroom installation, presenting field study, archival research, project development, and the production of new works to provide a space of healing and visual possibilities for current and historical traumas.

More about Sandy Rodriguez

Anna Tsouhlarakis
Indigenous Absurdities

“Indian humor” is a colloquial name for Native American jokes dealing with specific tribes, families, and, once in a while, a certain person. In Indigenous Absurdities, Anna Tsouhlarakis investigates the layering within a comical story or joke, and how the anecdote reflects the identity of an individual or group of people. Tsouhlarakis collects Indigenous jokes and stories and deconstructs them as part of an investigation in reforming an understanding of Native American identity and expression. The project combines multi-channel video, collage, and Native American oral traditions in an installation context to present moments of hilarity that highlight the complexity of Native individuals.

More about Anna Tsouhlarakis

Chris E. Vargas
Museum of Trans Hirstory: Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects

Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects, part of the conceptual-art project Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art, is a material exploration of objects that hold significance in narrating the history of transgender communities. A creative and critical exploration of LGBTQ archives, the project has taken the form of six gallery exhibitions over four years, and will culminate in a book that brings together and expands on the artwork and archival material presented in these shows. The project attends not only to what is found in the archive but also to what is missing. Commissioned artwork and “found” archival materials point to the unknowable aspects of the past while also work to creatively repair and critically highlight the oversights, neglect, and biases that have marred the preservation of transgender history.

More about Chris E. Vargas

Jessica Vaughn
Working Procedures

Working Procedures examines everyday structures that dictate our understanding of labor, space, and the circulation of resources in institutions. Through sculptures, two dimensional artworks, and installation, Working Procedures explores aspects that are specific to Vaughn’s practice, such as her work with architecture, social history, and her political interests against closed systems of representation and value.

More about Jessica Vaughn

Mercedes Dorame
Eclipsing Shadows—We’aashar Moyookmok

Mercedes Dorame creates an immersive installation addressing contemporary interpretation of Native Tongva ceremony and our relationship to celestial movements, eclipses, and solstices. The installation includes the creation of a semi-enclosed, domed immersive space, recordings of Tongva music, photograms, photographs, and cast concrete sculptures.

More about Mercedes Dorame

Steffani Jemison
In Succession

In 1900, The New York Times reported that six “tramps” formed an acrobatic pyramid, cut a hole in the ceiling, and escaped from the Middlesex County Jail in New Jersey. Working with trained and untrained actors, this body of work considers the precarious and resistant figure of the acrobat.

More about Steffani Jemison

Cannupa Hanska Luger
Future Ancestral Technologies

Future Ancestral Technologies is an Indigenous-centered approach to making art objects, video, and performance with the intent to influence global consciousness using creative storytelling to radically reimagine the future. Moving science-fiction theory into practice, this methodology conjures innovative life-based solutions that promote a thriving Indigeneity.

More about Cannupa Hanska Luger

Ben Thorp Brown
The Arcadia Center

The Arcadia Center is a fictional organization that has emerged with a mission to help people further develop and practice their empathic capacity with each other and the natural world. Visitors to The Arcadia Center are invited to immerse themselves in a parallel world, a sanctuary for these dark times.

More about Ben Thorp Brown

Angela Washko
Mother, Player

Mother, Player is an experimental narrative video game featuring pregnancy and early motherhood stories from artists during the global pandemic. A series of interactive vignettes written in dialogue with artist mothers, the video game presents complex stories of maternity experiences during lockdown with a focus on the distinctive challenges and poignant moments artist mothers have faced during this time. The game will additionally address the lack of multi-dimensional pregnancy and early motherhood stories in video games—something that the artist herself became sensitive to and critical of after becoming pregnant, giving birth, and taking care of a newborn during this isolated and uncertain time.

More about Angela Washko

Kamau Patton

Tel is a platform for performance, study, and contemplation that will question how the nature of memory has changed in relation to the encroachment of cyberspace, telematics, and transmission technologies. The project name refers to the archeological term for a mound formed by the accumulated remains left by communities occupying a site over time. Tel is experienced through a myriad of disciplines: past iterations have been presented as transmissions, walks, conversations, engagement with archives, and a publication series.

More about Kamau Patton

Polly Apfelbaum
For the Love of Una Hale (Cards of Identity)

For the Love of Una Hale (Cards of Identity) is an installation using ceramics, wallpaper and immersive color. The key visual influence originates from a 20th century painting of a faceless woman in the symbolic Pennsylvania German style by the artist David Ellinger, relating it to contemporary ideas surrounding craft, gender and identity.

More about Polly Apfelbaum

John W. Love, Jr.
The Cathedral of Messes

The Cathedral of Messes is the scene of a crime: a mystic has assassinated his inner saboteur. Crystalline enshrined shoes and body parts of sculpted black salt float in a sea of video, literature, and performance in an installation dedicated to obliterating a virus known as shame.

More about John W. Love, Jr.

Socially-Engaged Art & Multidisciplinary Presentations

Introduced by Michelle Coffey. Through practices like artistic activism, data visualization, writing workshops, interactive websites, and community development, artists working in these socially-engaged projects are advancing crucial issues and movements to construct a better, more equitable world.


Michelle Coffey, Board of Directors


Shana M. griffin

Through the employment of an interactive website, visual timeline, a digital and print atlas, and exhibition, DISPLACED is a multimedia public history project tracing the geographies of Black displacement, dislocation, confinement, and disposability in land-use planning, housing policy, and urban development. Beginning with the formation of New Orleans and its cartographies of violence, racial slavery, and settler colonialism, Shana M. griffin uses DISPLACED to illustrate historical and contemporary forms of property-led development and the property value of white social identity through policies of divestment, slum clearance, urban renewal, and the privatization of public services—narrating the spatialization of race and gender in land use planning and development, while foregrounding moments of Black refusal, protest, and spatial imaginations.

More about Shana M. griffin

Bayeté Ross Smith
Art of Justice

Law students represent the next generation of professionals poised to directly shape the creation and implementation of public policy and law. Bayeté Ross Smith hopes to impact their perspectives and elevate thoughtfulness, empathy, and social consciousness during the formative years of their professional training. Art of Justice is a series of socially-engaging art installations and interventions at top tier law schools, law firms, and district attorneys’ offices that address contemporary social issues, including unconscious bias, economic justice, and political accountability. The work expands the purpose of art beyond its typical confines to reach future political leaders, prosecutors, firm partners, and policymakers.

More about Bayeté Ross Smith

The Black School
The Black Schoolhouse

Expanding on their radical Black art programming, Joseph Cuillier III and Shani Peters turn a 21st-century schoolhouse into a community center, providing civic engagement activities for the 7th Ward of Cuillier’s hometown, New Orleans, LA. The building will be a working prototype for a new Washington/Rosenwald Schools-inspired initiative—which built 5,000 schoolhouses in the Jim Crow South—placing local community at the center of the school’s curriculum. The Black Schoolhouse will serve as a monument to the legacy of Black school building as self determination, acting as a prototype for promoting community-built Black radical learning spaces, and low-cost solutions for housing displacement.

More about The Black School

People’s Kitchen Collective

In their community project EARTH SEED, People’s Kitchen Collective asks, “What is the future of survival?” The collective gathers a multidisciplinary cohort of grassroots activists and artists to co-create an unconventional nationwide meal series and survival workshops. Rooted in Octavia Butler’s theory of change outlined in her Parables book series, and the legacy of the survival programs of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, EARTH SEED is People’s Kitchen Collective’s next expression of radical hospitality.

More about People’s Kitchen Collective

Jordan Weber
4MX Greenhouse

4MX Greenhouse is a sculptural programmatic artwork supporting holistic community health and land revitalization. Built on the site of Malcolm X’s Omaha home at birth—now 17 acres of native grassland embedded in a dense superfund designated North Omaha—the greenhouse mimics the shape of Malcolm X’s first residential home. In collaboration with multiple community non-profit and private initiatives, it grows and distributes indigenous crops, exists as a community gathering space for art performances, hosts decompression and healing programs such as Zazen Meditation and offers urban sustainability workshops including information on how to request services from the EPA to replace highly contaminated soil.

More about Jordan Weber

Jesse Krimes
Mass Incarceration Quilt Series

The Mass Incarceration Quilt Series focuses on rendering visible people and perspectives hidden by the criminal legal system. Using participatory art practices that traverse both prison bars and the urban/rural divide, the series will represent the national scale of incarceration through an accumulation of individuated quilt squares and larger textiles. The works will integrate old clothing collected from directly impacted people and their families, invoking the body and presence of those millions who have been “disappeared” by the criminal punishment system.

More about Jesse Krimes

Jarrett Mellenbruch
Redwood Preserve

The Redwood Preserve is a land art and social enterprise project to restore the ancient Californian redwood forest obliterated by logging in the 19th and 20th centuries. The nature preserve would revive biodiversity in the region, while its trees combat climate change by pulling large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

More about Jarrett Mellenbruch

Amitis Motevalli
Golestan Revisited

Golestan Revisited is a multimedia, internationally-accessible online database created to research, reclaim, and rename roses transplanted to Europe during the Crusades from the South and West Asian and North African region (known as SWANA), to symbolize and commemorate women, girls, and femmes killed—often while captive in the wars against “terror” and/or by reactive Islamist occupations.

More about Amitis Motevalli

Nathan Shafer

Wintermoot incorporates social practice, augmented reality, graphic novels, and digital humanities to form a series of interconnected epic tales of supernatural people from all over Alaska, spanning several generations. As both a mobile app and augmented graphic novel set in an alternate history Alaska, the work tells the stories of characters created in collaboration with other Alaskans, bringing together over 30 languages and cultures.

More about Nathan Shafer

Mark Nowak
Worker Writers School: Mobile Unit

Worker Writers School: Mobile Unit (WWSMU) expands Mark Nowak’s ongoing, twenty-year project of bringing poetry workshops directly to the working class. Like bookmobiles or food trucks, WWSMU visits laundromats, street corners, restaurants near construction sites, bus stops, and other locations that workers frequent to offer brief, intensive poetry writing classes.

More about Mark Nowak

Sherrill Roland
The Jumpsuit Portal

The criminal justice system in the US is intentionally fragmented and often invisible to those who do not have a direct connection with it. In The Jumpsuit Project, Sherrill Roland wears the iconic, orange prison jumpsuit and engages people in conversation, disrupting spaces in the art world, higher education, and other places where issues around criminal justice do not normally appear. As a socially-engaged performance, the work centers around making connections both within and outside of the incarceration system through performance and a digital hub. Roland aims to build a new narrative around criminal justice, working toward lasting national policy changes by disrupting the local incarceration system.

More about Sherrill Roland

Moving Image & Multidisciplinary Presentations

Introduced by Ruby Lerner. Through documentary, video installation, narrative film, and even innovative use of puppetry, these artists demonstrate a deep connection and understanding with the communities and subjects at the heart of their projects, giving life to stories not often seen in the media.


Ruby Lerner, Founding Director & President


Martine Syms
Dumb World

Martine Syms’s feature-length film, entitled Dumb World, explores how athleticism, race, and fame congeal around the violent ideologies embedded within the objects of technology with which we are most intimately connected.

More about Martine Syms

Jake Yuzna
After America

In 2018, director Jake Yuzna put out an open call in Minneapolis to criminal justice de-escalators to explore, through performance, the failures they saw in their work and in daily life. The result is a look at life in America through seemingly unconnected characters—a corrections officer, a Somali writer, a gay and deaf model, and others. Created through improvisation, conventional scripting, and nonfiction, the stories merge together to create a singular portrait of the pain and unrest bubbling under the surface of the American way of life. After America captures the anxieties facing Minneapolis and America as a whole.

More about Jake Yuzna

Jenny Lion
untitled (Nevada/Utah)

untitled (Nevada/Utah) is a series of video installations and cinematic works which explore landscape, training rituals, and strategies of sustained witnessing at sites of historical resonance. Often produced by working over a long period of time, and in collaboration, the body of work includes a three-screen installation shot at sites of nuclear history, video projection loops exploring the rituals of training, a split-screen feature-length film examining a remote valley and town ruins used for Navy flight training, and a visual archive of the many objects Lion has found abandoned in these landscapes.

Video available upon request. Email: [email protected].

More about Jenny Lion

Christopher Sullivan
The Orbit of Minor Satellites

The Orbit of Minor Satellites is an animated feature film comprised of hand-drawn, 2-D animations with painted backgrounds. It tells the story of two different worlds in which characters are interconnected by the most unlikely threads. The first environment is a psychiatrist’s office where a teenage girl is in session with her therapist. The other environment is a cavernous space station on the subarctic desolation of Mimas, one of the moons of Saturn. A core idea in the film is that the pivotal moments of most people’s lives take place in rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and classrooms where conversations, actions and touch shape future events.

More about Christopher Sullivan

Jules Rosskam
Desire Lines

It’s an open secret among transgender men: after coming out as trans, many develop an attraction for other men. Desire Lines is a feature-length essay film that issues a radical reframing of transmasculine sexuality. Situated at the intersection of sex, gender, and desire, the film uses of one-on-one interviews, erotic encounters, observational footage, performed scenarios, and historical fiction about gay bathhouses. Desire Lines reveals as much about why sexual desires might change as gender presentation changes as it does about masculinity in our culture, emphasizing gender as a prism through which all other aspects of the self—such as race, class, and nationhood—are refracted. Drawing connections between the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics, the film also seeks to illuminate the biopolitics of government indifference.

More about Jules Rosskam

Crystal Kayiza
The Gardeners

The Gardeners follows the Worthy Women of Watkins Street, keepers of one of the oldest Black cemeteries in Mississippi. The feature-length film will live between this life and the next, utilizing the land as a portal into intangible dimensions, including the spirits that keep this group of elder women drawn to their work. As The Gardeners honors the labor of the Worthy Women, it also physically, emotionally, and spiritually invokes the souls laid to rest at Watkins Street Cemetery. Positioning Watkins as a dynamic and emotive central character within the narrative, the space becomes a conduit for an immersive exploration of collective history, aging, memory, and the burden of caring for the forgotten.

More about Crystal Kayiza

William D. Caballero

TheyDream is an animated documentary about the hopes and realities of William D. Caballero’s Puerto Rican-American family, plagued by health, financial, and social problems rooted in the systemic inequality in today’s America. As a sequel to the filmmaker’s autobiographical documentary American Dreams Deferred, this new work features photo-realistic 3D modeled characters inhabiting hand-built environments, highlighting the stories of real people of color, meticulously rendered in miniature. TheyDream creates a social dialogue highlighting the struggles of those living in poverty, as well as Puerto Rican communities living in the USA today, indicative of today’s forgotten American narrative.

More about William D. Caballero

Reid Davenport
I Didn’t See You There

Spurred by a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker connects the ostensibly antiquated institution of the Freak Show with his own life. Shot from a camera held by director Reid Davenport or mounted to his wheelchair, the film serves as an unequivocal rebuke to the norm of disabled people being seen and not heard. I Didn’t See You There expands on the tradition of point-of-view film toward a new aesthetic for disabled filmmakers, creating film that is disabled through the artist’s own embodiment.

More about Reid Davenport

Suha Araj
Pickled (Khsara)

Pickled (Khsara) is a comedic feature-length film set in the Palestinian diaspora about women who don’t get married “in time.” Nearing the ripe age of 30, astrophysicist Nisreen will expire if not wed. She struggles to find her own path between her old world Palestinian roots and the modern reality she lives in while her global family actively interferes. Bringing the comedy and joy of growing up an in Arab-American family, Suha Araj shows what happens when a Palestinian-American discovers that love is more important than marriage.

More about Suha Araj

J Mase III & Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi
The Black Trans Prayer Book: A Documentary

The Black Trans Prayer Book: A Documentary explores the lives, reflections, performances, and spiritual journey of the contributors to the Black Trans Prayer Book—a collaborative text, co-edited by J Mase III and Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, that explores the healing needs of Black trans people.

More about J Mase III & Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi

Jasmin Mara López
Silent Beauty

Silent Beauty is a personal documentary about Jasmin López’s family’s history with child sexual abuse and a culture of silence. The work extends as an audio-visual installation that features the voices of dozens of survivors—adults and older children with parents—that have reached out to the artist to share their stories.

More about Jasmin Mara López

Diane Paragas
The Three Lives of David Wong

Through a mixture of recreation puppetry, archival interviews, and verité, The Three Lives of David Wong documentary film tells the story of an undocumented Chinese immigrant wrongfully convicted of murder, and the group of activists who came to together to rally for his freedom.

More about Diane Paragas

Rodrigo Reyes
Sansón and Me

Director Rodrigo Reyes works as a Spanish Court Interpreter where he befriends a client, a young undocumented Mexican named Sansón, during a gang-related murder trial. When permission is denied to film Sansón, Rodrigo and he begin using hundreds of pages of letters to craft recreations of Sansón’s childhood, a process that slowly builds into a multi-layered narrative that weaves an unexpected friendship with an incisive portrait of how the failures of immigration and opportunity intersect with the criminal justice system.

More about Rodrigo Reyes

Adam Khalil & Bayley Sweitzer

Spanning 500 years of colonial destruction, Nosferasta tells the story of Oba, a Rastafarian vampire, and Christopher Columbus, Oba’s original biter, as they spread the colonial infection throughout the “new world.” Formally a vampire film and series of installations, the stylistically impressionistic Nosferasta examines the guilt of being complicit in imperial conquest, while also acknowledging the difficulty of unlearning centuries of vampiric conditioning. At its core Nosferasta asks, how can you decolonize what’s in your blood?

More about Adam Khalil & Bayley Sweitzer

Thank You!


The retreat marks just the beginning of our journey supporting these artists in completing their projects and building their careers. Your generosity helps to support their adventurous ideas and the creation of new art—make a donation now.

Donate Now

Major support for Creative Capital programming is provided by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Bloomberg Philanthropies, William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Lambent Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Scherman Foundation, Surdna Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Theo Westenberger Estate. Additional major support is provided by Jane Brown and Neil Didriksen, Laura Lee Brown, Reginald Browne, Isa Catto and Daniel Shaw, Alejandro González, Lyda Kuth, Toby Devan Lewis, Stephen Reily and Emily Bingham, Margaret Silva, Jeffrey Soros, Paige West, the Creative Capital Board of Directors, and the National Advisory Council.

Creative Capital programming is also supported in part by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Past Retreats

Watch presentations from the 2019 Creative Capital Artist Retreat.

Watch presentations from the 2016 Creative Capital Artist Retreat.

Watch presentations from the 2015 Creative Capital Artist Retreat.

Watch presentations from the 2013 Creative Capital Artist Retreat.