On Our Radar 2021 features noteworthy projects in all disciplines that advanced to the final round in the competitive selection process for the Creative Capital Award. During each award cycle, Creative Capital has the great privilege of learning about a wealth of exciting artists’ projects. By promoting projects “on our radar” to our community of people who are passionate about the arts, we can forge connections that lead to new support and collaborative opportunities. We invite you to explore projects featured in On Our Radar, and follow links to artists’ websites to find out more about how you can get involved making their visions a reality.
Trilogy of Plays: If Pekin is a Duck, Why am I in Chicago aka The Bet, McCabe's Minstrels, and Bards and Bets
Renaissance Gems of Black Belt Chicago (Celeste Beatty, Ann Eskridge, Christine Melton, Reginald R. Robinson)
“Air in Stone Water” - Architectural Organism x9
London, United Kingdom
Architecture & Design, Ecological Art
What if an architectural artwork became a living organism based on the way it reacts to environmental conditions? This public pavilion aims to create an apparatus where the structure and tensile façade reacts to fluctuating climatic conditions while becoming a pedagogical tool, connecting humans with environmental poetics and climatic awareness. Yussef Agbo-Ola believes that architecture can have a profoundly deep impact on the ways in which we relate to and understand the ecological systems around us. By employing the design of a structure that transforms with the environmental conditions, Agbo-Ola aspires to create a poetic space that asks us to reevaluate the environments that we collectively exist in. The strategic program of the structure will have a series of talks, sound performances, and publications allowing its message and impact to develop over time.
Yussef Agbo-Ola’s multidisciplinary artistic practice focuses on natural energy systems and exploring the connections between an array of sensory environments—from the biological and anthropological, to the perceptual and microscopic—through interactive experiments. His aim is to use diverse research methods and design components to reinterpret local knowledge and its environmental importance cross-culturally. The outcomes manifest as architectural pavilions, photographic journalism, material alchemy, interactive performance, experimental sound design, and conceptual writing. He is the founder and creative director at Olaniyi Studio. Past projects include work with United Nations, ICA in London, Serpentine Gallery, TEDx EastEnd, Venice Architectural Biennials, Arts Catalyst, Lexus Automotive Innovation.
Parisa Barani & Jennifer Blackmer
Los Angeles, California and Vancouver, Canada
Narrative Film, Artistic Activism
Human Terrain is a unique story that explores the War on Terror through a distinctively female lens. During the Iraq War, Mabry Hoffman leaves a life in academia to work in Fallujah for the Human Terrain System. The program employed civilians from the social science disciplines to provide military commanders and staff with a greater understanding of local culture. Hoffman befriends a Muslim-Iraqi woman, but has to choose between friendship and loyalty to her country. The film explores the violent collisions between East and West—the academic world and the military; the oppression of women and feminist liberation; what is seen, and what remains hidden from view. Based on a play by Jennifer Blackmer that was rejected by regional theatres for being “too controversial,” Parisa Barani is developing the work as a feature length film with international theatrical release.
Parisa Barani is an award-winning Iranian American Canadian film director. Barani is currently attached to direct the upcoming features Haram and is in development for her feature based on Jennifer Blackmer’s play Human Terrain. Her proof-of-concept short for Human Terrain stars Maggie Siff and Sarita Choudhury, distribution by Refinery29/Shatterbox. It debuted at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival and was in competition at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival. Barani is a participant of the 2019/2021 Universal Directors Initiative and a recipient of the Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Grant and a grant from Neda Nobari Foundation. She has been semi-finalist for Sundance Screenwriters Lab, Sony Pictures’ Television Diversity Program and NBC Female Forward/Emerging Director program. Barani has curated and spoken on panels at SXSW and San Francisco State University and teaches at the Youth Cinema Project’s Latino Film Institute. She is a graduate of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women and SITI’s Theatre Intensive Training at Skidmore College, where she was mentored by the legendary Anne Bogart.
Jonas N.T. Becker
Better or Equal Use
Chicago, Illinois & Waiteville, West Virginia
Photography, Ecological Art
Better or Equal Use is a series of photographs that use coal dust to depict redevelopment projects—
Each photograph depicts a redevelopment built under the Surface-Mining Control and Reclamation Act. The act mandates that after mining, companies must restore the mountain’s original façade or redevelop the site for “better or equal use,” directly weighing the value of the mountain and surrounding communities against commercial-industrial functions. The project links different forms of extraction—literal, economic, and cultural—where both land and bodies are exploited, their value taken elsewhere.
Each photograph is printed with coal collected from its site. The coal is finely ground and mixed with chemicals to create photographic paper, then printed using images of each redevelopment. The resulting photographs both depict the site and are made of the site, highlighting a cycle: the redevelopments replace one form of extraction (a mine) with another (a prison or mall). Exhibited regionally and internationally, the photographs connect rural and urban audiences, amplifying dialogue around extraction and environmental oppression.
Jonas N.T. Becker makes photographs, videos, and performances that explore how systems of power place value on the body and the resource-rich landscape. His practice is research based, excavating layers of mainstream and marginalized histories, particularly in rural America. Each of Becker’s projects focuses on a specific landscape, drawing attention to interrelated histories and human impact. Becker has exhibited internationally, including the MCA Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography, ICA LA, and LAXART. Becker works between his home state of West Virginia and Chicago, IL, where he is a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The Institute of Black Imagination
New York, New York
Architecture & Design, Cultural Organizing
Whether in the built environment, urban planning, or social domain, the world we find ourselves in has been designed. All design is predictive, meaning the designer assumes the burden of foreseeing the utility of any given system, and rarely is there a modular function embedded for the end-user to adjust to their needs. In a world not designed with Black people in mind, they have continually hacked, remixed, and jerry-rigged the spaces, objects, and ideas that they confront, and in that process, have not only brought about their own deliverance, but that of others as well. Paolo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed states “Only [the] power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both.” The Institute of Black Imagination is a two-month liberative design experience, stemming from a fundamental understanding that the burden of liberation is on the oppressed, and knowing that the world we find ourselves in has been designed—designed by oppressive forces and exclusionary to Black people from their genesis.
Sitting at the nexus of art, fashion and academia, Dario Calmese is an artist, urbanist, director, and brand consultant currently based in New York City. He received his master’s in photography from the School of Visual Arts and his bachelors in psychology at Rockhurst University in Kansas City. Classically trained in the performing arts, he uses his knowledge of movement, gesture, and psychology to create complex characters and narratives that explore history, race, class, and what it means to be human. In 2020 he made history as the first Black photographer to shoot a cover for Vanity Fair in it’s 106-year history with his portrait of Oscar-winning actress, Viola Davis. 2020 also saw the launch of his widely-acclaimed podcast, The Institute of Black Imagination, featuring conversations from the Pool of Black Genius through the lens of design.
micha cárdenas, Gerald Casel, Cynthia Ling Lee, Susana Ruiz
Santa Cruz, California
Augmented Reality, Dance Film
Oceanic shifts attention from the damage climate change is causing to the life-worlds on land to the unfolding harm of the oceans. The project uses augmented reality (AR) to visualize landscapes and aquatic species threatened by climate change, stitching the line from colonization to neoliberalism to racial capitalism through holographic dance performances captured with volumetric video, alongside 3-D LIDAR scans of ecotonal coastal environments. Audiences experience the coast of the Pacific Ocean at Natural Bridges State Beach, with an original soundtrack and a series of performances that tell the story of how climate change is a racial justice issue. Dance performances by Cynthia Ling Lee, Gerald Casel, and micha cárdenas, in collaboration with Susana Ruiz, will be used to create the volumetric video for this AR art game. Oceanic will also present words from chicana feminist Gloria Anzaldúa, who wrote about Natural Bridges to think through solidarity across identities in women of color feminism, including the former exclusion of trans women.
micha cárdenas, PhD, is an artist/theorist who combines performance and digital media, and directs the Critical Realities Studio, a studio/lab using XR to engage in the world’s most critical issues. Susana Ruiz, PhD, is an artist and scholar whose creative and scholarly work is broadly concerned with the intersections of art practice, playful design, and digital storytelling with social activism. Choreographer and scholar, Cynthia Ling Lee instigates postcolonial, queer, and feminist-of-color interventions in the field of experimental performance. Gerald Casel’s choreographic research complicates and provokes questions surrounding colonialism, collective cultural amnesia, whiteness and privilege.
Kori Coleman & Erik Ljung
Multimedia, Dance Film
Adult Night is a multidisciplinary collaborative project exploring roller skating culture in America through a mix of photographic portraiture, audio interviews, and an experimental film. The musicians of D-Composed will collaborate with Chicago “JB” skaters to develop an original composition of chamber music and skate routine as an ode to Chicago’s South Side skate scene. Additionally, photographs document the broader skate scene in America, paired with text and audio about what skate rinks mean to the community and generations of skaters. Erik Ljung and Kori Coleman couple chamber music with the exuberant energy of roller skating with the intention of challenging preconceptions of both art forms, and to reach audiences that have felt excluded from art galleries and such music performances in the past. D-Composed aims to amplify the works of Black composers and present their compositions in new and imaginative ways.
Erik Ljung is a documentary filmmaker and photographer, whose work re-introduced him to roller skating in 2016. His debut feature film, The Blood is at the Doorstep, premiered at SXSW in 2017 where it earned a Hollywood Reporter’s critics pick. He is a former Nohl Fellow and three-time Brico Forward Fund winner for his documentary work. Kori Coleman is the curatorial artist behind D-Composed, which is a Chicago-based chamber music experience that honors Black creativity and culture through the music of Black composers. Her work with D-Composed has led to collaborations with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Rebuild Foundation, and SXSW.
Chico Colvard & Madison O’Leary
Documentary Film, Narrative Film
The Call is a personal portraiture piece that examines weaponized 911 calls in the age of white fragility. The calls range from intentional displays of power to implicit bias and genuine concerns about suspicious behavior. By inviting to the conversation social justice experts, humanitarian scholars, 911 dispatchers, law enforcement, victim/survivors and the ever-elusive callers, this project will synthesize the humanity of the current 911 epidemic in America. The film intimately follows the lives of both victim/survivor and callers, depicting the impact these calls have and the ever-changing communities they affect. From remorse and forgiveness to indignation and permanent traumas, the film approaches what has become a national hashtag with compassion and unparalleled access.
Chico Colvard is the founder of C-LineFilms and Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at Massachusetts College of Art & Design. His award-winning feature, Family Affair, premiered in competition at Sundance and was acquired by Oprah Winfrey for OWN. His film, Black Memorabilia, premiered at MoMA and aired on PBS’s Independent Lens. He is a Guggenheim, Sundance, Firelight Media, and Flaherty Fellow. He produced Spring Valley (2021 SXSW). He is directing The Call, and is a director for an MTV series titled, 9 Things—shorts highlighting forgotten or unknown pieces of Black history.
Black Barbie: A Documentary
Los Angeles, California
Narrative Film, Documentary Film
This feature-length documentary is the history of Black Barbie, told through the charismatic protagonist and the filmmaker’s aunt who helped introduce the first Black Barbie, Beulah Mae Mitchell. The film explores what the 1980 release of Black Barbie meant to those growing up with no representation and its impact on Generation X. As a litmus test, the film will reimagine the doll test of the 1940s to see how increased representation could impact future generations. The project started with a simple question— why not make a Barbie that looks like me?—and the message: be the person in the room who asks the question, you never know the difference it could make.
Lagueria Davis graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2007 with a BFA in Media Art. Since graduating, Davis has established herself as an award-winning filmmaker. She co-wrote the feature, Maid of Dishonor, which was a 2016 Nicholls Fellowship Quarter-Finalist. In addition, Davis has had four scripts placed in the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition. Her most recent short, Light in Dark Places, is streaming on Amazon and she is presently in pre-production on her feature Black Barbie: A Documentary. Currently, Davis resides in LA where she’s on the Emeritus Board of the Alliance of Women Directors.
Ma's House & BIPOC Art Studio
Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, New York
Social Practice, Public Art
Led by Indigenous artist Jeremy Dennis, Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio will serve as a communal art space based on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton, New York. The family house, built in the 1960s, will serve as Dennis’s space to manage the project that includes a residency program for Black, Indigenous, and people of color, an art studio, library, and an array of art and history-based programs for tribe members and the broader local community.
Jeremy Dennis, born 1990, is a contemporary fine art photographer and a tribal member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, NY. In his work, he explores indigenous identity, culture, and assimilation. Dennis holds an MFA from Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, and a BA in Studio Art from Stony Brook University, NY. He currently lives and works in Southampton, on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.
Ecological Art, Documentary Film
For the last two years, Cara Despain has been collecting burnt debris from wildfires in the western United States and using them to create “carbon paintings” that serve as markers of a changing climate and sustained forest mismanagement, existing in memoriam of the consequences of human habitation on the planet. Collecting from sites such as the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, and the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, each piece in the series corresponds to a specific fire. Large-scale canvases are saturated with pure carbon, resulting in overwhelming visualizations of large-scale systems change. The works are meant to conceptually inhabit the lineage of landscape painting, but represent spent/wrecked vistas and places rather than pristine wilderness. Traveling to these sites herself allows the artist to bear witness to and document the burn scars post-fire. A cornerstone of the project, Despain will create a short documentary of her travel, process, experience collecting/documenting the bush fires in Australia, where she will be in residence in late-2021.
Cara Despain is an artist working in film and video, sculpture, photography, and installation addressing issues of land use and ownership, climate change, visualizing the Anthropocene and the problematics of frontierism. She was born in Salt Lake City and currently lives in Miami, and works between the two. She has received numerous awards and grants including the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Award in visual arts, the South Florida Consortium Fellowship and will complete a public art commission with Miami-Dade County in 2021. She has been Art Director on two feature films, including The Strongest Man (Sundance Film Festival selection 2015).
Kelli Jo Ford
My Bread, My War
My Bread, My War is the story of Marlissa and Janey, a Cherokee mother and daughter, seeking revenge against Marlissa’s abusive white ex-husband. The book opens two years before the Oklahoma City bombing, after he has taken up with a group of white nationalist religious zealots connected to Timothy McVeigh. The novel takes a semi-comic tone, as the women begin to see one another as adults, involve the family matriarch, and delight in their new relationship and ploy to stake out the white nationalist compound. As a counternarrative, the book won’t center violent white men or trauma. It’s a story about Marlissa and Janey’s relationship and how it grows once they join forces, deepens once they enlist the help of Marlissa’s mother, and how they learn more than they bargained for about a white supremacist compound in the middle of the Cherokee Nation. This is a story of Cherokee women’s generational strength, love, humor, and perseverance, inspired by the matriarchs of Ford’s own family and a real Christian Identity compound located in the Cherokee Nation.
Kelli Jo Ford’s debut novel-in-stories Crooked Hallelujah was longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, The Story Prize, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. She is the recipient of The Paris Review’s 2019 Plimpton Prize, the Everett Southwest Literary Award, a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, and a Dobie Paisano Fellowship. She teaches writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, Khalil Sullivan, Joshua Williams
At Buffalo: A New Musical
Atlanta, Georgia; Oakland, California; Cambridge, Massachusetts
Musical Theater, Theater
At Buffalo: A New Musical is a historical, musical drama that follows an ensemble of three groups of Black folk—former slaves, African immigrants, and the wealthy black elite—through the unpredictable world of the 1901 Buffalo, New York World’s Fair where they confront each other, offering competing narratives of what blackness means in America, and… a presidential assassination.
Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, Khalil Sullivan, and Joshua Williams are a national team of scholars, artists, and activists based in the Atlanta metro area, Oakland, and Cambridge. The heart of the At Buffalo’s collaborative process involves (1) their intention to tell the history “right” by experimenting with how actual archival material can live, breathe, speak, and interact on stage; (2) their conviction that theatre and performance are the most urgent vehicles to explore and explode anti-blackness; and (3) their radical openness to non-hierarchical collaboration. Selected accolades include 2014 NYMF, 2015 CAP21 Writers Residency, 2016 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, 2017 Creative Arts Initiative Artists Residency (University at Buffalo), 2019 MAP Fund Grant, 2019 TED Talk, 2019 Apples & Oranges THEatre Accelerator, 2021 Goodspeed Musicals Johnny Mercer Grove Residency.
After Sherman + A Site of Reckoning
Brooklyn, New York & Georgetown, South Carolina
Documentary Film, Video Art
Jon-Sesrie Goff inherited a plot of land on the Santee River in South Carolina and began to travel home to make a body of work about it, when the experimental film he had set out to make was violently interrupted in 2015. After Sherman + A Site of Reckoning is about American inheritance. The coastal south is both a source of great pride, rich with cultural legacies that endure, as well as the site of years fraught with subjugation. It is a site of reckoning, begging the question: can peace be made with the physical site of both bondage and heritage? This conundrum is at the heart of constant return to South Carolina in Goff’s practice. This project, like the Gullah people (descendants of enslaved Africans), seeks to hold many identities spoken through a single tongue. It is both a record, in conversation with institutional archives, and a signifier to that which cannot be seen.
Jon-Sesrie Goff is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, and arts administrator. With extensive experience in media and film production, Goff has offered his lens to a variety of projects spanning many genres including the recently released and award-winning documentaries, Out in the Night (POV, Logo 2015), Evolution of a Criminal (Independent Lens 2015), and Spit on the Broom (2019). His personal practice has involved extensive archival research, visual documentation, and oral history interviews in the coastal south on the legacy of Black land ownership and Gullah Geechee heritage preservation.
Los Angeles, California
Narrative Film, Experimental Film
After Dreaming is a coming-of-age road film set in the late 1990s of newly independent Armenia. It follows a young girl in search of her father, a well-driller. As the biblical land of Noah’s Ark faces a water crisis, a child and nation grow up together in this Neptunian odyssey of selfhood. Told through the warped lens of personal memory, After Dreaming draws on the mythologies of freedom, family, and motherland. Currently, the feature film is in the development phase and seeking international co-production.
Christine Haroutounian is a director, writer, and producer working between Southern California and Armenia. She is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film 2020. Her work explores transnational life through moving image and sound. Christine holds an MFA in Directing/Production from the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television. Her films have received Official Selection in International Film Festival Rotterdam, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Palm Springs International ShortFest, and more. Christine is now developing her first feature film, set in post-Soviet Armenia.
Jonathan Herrera Soto
Currently a visitor on ancestral Narragansett homeland (Providence, Rhode Island)
Recuérdame Bonito is a print-based project necessitating printshop access, travel expenses, and material costs to develop a new series of unique monoprints on hand-made paper. To create these collographs, akin to rubbings, Jonathan Herrera Soto adheres previously worn clothing onto a printing plate and uses the harsh and violent forces of a printing press to translate the information provided from the plate via ink onto the paper. The site-specificity of the project derives from the clothing itself, which will be acquired directly from migration trails and paths along the US southern border. Often the victims fleeing state-sanctioned crime, or their bodies, suffer anonymously behind fences, walls, in ditches, and leave behind the items they wear. They leave behind stories, not in words, but in remnants. For the project, Herrera Soto will follow the various migration paths of his father during his attempted crossings into the US in 2018.
As a print-based studio artist, Jonathan Herrera Soto approaches printmaking as an act of love through the gesture of translation. He graduated with a BFA from the Minneapolis College in Art and Design in 2017. Recent solo exhibitions of Herrera Soto’s work include “All at Once” at Brown University, “Always Tomorrow” at Hair and Nails Gallery in South Minneapolis, and “In Between / Underneath” at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Herrera Soto is a recent recipient of the Santo Foundation Individual Artist Award, Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, Metro Regional Arts Council Next Step Grant, Brown University Artist Initiative Grant, and the Jerome Hill Artist Grant Fellowship. He is a 2021-2023 Paul & Daisy Soros New American Fellow working towards an MFA at the Yale University School of Art.
how to perform an abortion (Maureen Connor, Landon Newton, Eugenia Manwelyan, Kadambari Baxi)
Abortion Garden Clinic Kit
New York, New York
Social Practice, Artistic Activism
The Abortion Garden Clinic Kit re-imagines the abortion clinic as a site of support, history, resources and care. The collaborative, how to perform an abortion, works to create a clinic that should exist for those seeking an abortion. They replace a clinic’s often stark medical interiors with historical information, games, childcare, comfortable furnishings, wallpaper, abortifacient plant companions and more. Patients and visitors have access to downloadable video and audio recordings and reading material about post-procedure care and recovery. Plant ID booklets and library resources connect patients to the 250,000 years of human reproductive history. They collaborate with existing abortion clinics and provide Clinic Kits and support in re-imagining the clinic waiting room. The collaboration supports full spectrum reproductive care, a model that serves from puberty through menopause without limits or coercion.
how to perform an abortion is an intergenerational collective using visual art and pedagogy to expand reproductive justice in both arts and clinical contexts. Using gardens, informational kits, workshops, and re-imagined clinic waiting rooms, they expose the obscured histories of reproductive practice. In addition to the Abortion Clinic Kit and Garden, they are working on Found Monument: Abortion Performance, a garden which highlights and labels abortifacient perennials already growing wild at Unison Art Center, New Paltz, NY and Abortion Herb Garden, with abortifacient herbs planted in the shape of a genetic map representing the Last Universal Common Ancestor at Denniston Hill, Glen Wild NY.
Huckaby Studios (Sedrick Huckaby & Letitia Huckaby)
Fort Worth, Texas
Cultural Organizing, Social Practice
Kinfolk House is a community project space based in a 100 year-old historic house in the predominantly Black and Latinx Polytechnic Heights Community of Fort Worth, Texas. The house will be a space where the artists invite and partner with community-minded creatives, locally and at large, offering collaborative events, exhibitions, and workshops of various disciplines. Their goal is not only to inspire, transform, and elevate the community of Poly, but to highlight the richness that already exists within it.
Sedrick Huckaby was born in Fort Worth, Texas. He received his formal education from Boston University and Yale University. After his studies, he traveled internationally to study old master painting, eventually moving back to his hometown. Huckaby has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, Joan Mitchell Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Lewis Comfort Tiffany Award, Texas State Artist for 2018, and a finalist in the 2019 Outwin Boochever Competition Exhibition administered by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, among other accolades. He is currently an associate professor of painting at The University of Texas at Arlington. He is represented by the Philip Martin Gallery in Los Angeles. Letitia Huckaby has a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma, a BFA from the Art Institute of Boston in photography, and her Master’s from the University of North Texas in Denton. Her work is included in several prestigious collections; the Library of Congress, the McNay Art Museum, the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia, and the Samella Lewis Contemporary Art Collection at Scripps College in Claremont, California. Huckaby is a featured artist in MAP2020: The Further We Roll, The More We Gain at the Amon Carter Museum, and State of the Art 2020 at The Momentary and Crystal Bridges Museum, both opened in the Spring of 2020.
Paolo Javier & David Mason
Fel Santos: All Convulsions
Sunnyside, New York
Poetry, Sound Art
Fel Santos: All Convulsions presents the book phase of a multimedia work that journeys through an underworld of language and postcolonial haunting, while showcasing the potential intimacy in sound poetry—a language art often dismissed as too conceptual and esoteric—to a new and diverse audience. Since 2013, Paolo Javier has developed The Fel Santos Project, a performative exploration of the mysterious sounds and fragments of speech by a fictional Filipinx-American poet, Fel Santos, whose work draws from motherese, demonology and occult experience, and experiments in sound symbolism and language creation. The hallmarks of Santos’ work—its theatricality; its experiments with linguistic hybridity and poly-vocality; its material interest in nonsense, baby talk, babble, and neologisms; and occult thought and practice—offers a feverish engagement with and a challenge to western experimental poetry and avant garde history, and an innovative way to consider the multiplicity of racial identity formation and belonging.
The former Queens Borough Poet Laureate (2010-2014), Paolo Javier was born in the Philippines and grew up in Las Piñas, Metro Manila; Katonah, Westchester County; El-Ma’adi, Cairo; Burnaby and North Delta, Metro Vancouver. He has produced three albums of sound poetry with Listening Center (David Mason), including pamphlet/cassette Ur’lyeh/ Aklopolis and the booklet/cassette Maybe the Sweet Honey Pours. The recipient of a 2021 Rauschenberg Foundation Artist Grant, he was a featured artist in Greater NY 2015 and Queens International 2018: Volumes. He recently completed “O.B.B. aka The Original Brown Boy,” a weird postcolonial techno dreampop comics poem that also includes illustrations by Alex Tarampi and Ernest Concepcion.
Los Angeles, California
White Juice is a satirical short film following what happens when a frustrated, yet capable Black advertising executive discovers that a buddy has developed a serum that can bestow upon him the same benefit of the doubt as any white man.
Born in Washington DC, Tahir Jetter is interested in creating compelling narrative films about underrepresented people and overlooked ideas. His NYU short thesis film, Close, and debut feature film, How To Tell You’re A Douchebag, premiered at the 2011 and 2016 Sundance Film Festivals, respectively. The latter film was produced on a $100,000 budget and gained domestic distribution through Viacom, iTunes, Amazon, and Google, and international distribution through Sundance/AMC TV. Since then, Jetter has been awarded TV Directing Fellowships through Sony Pictures Program and Warner Brothers Television. He is currently developing several ideas for feature films and television.
Providence, Rhode Island
Music Composition, Multimedia
Since 1953, nearly 200,000 Korean children have been adopted into white American or European homes. As an adoptee, Bonnie Jones grew up with a sharp understanding of difference, a pervasive sense of “not-belonging” that was experienced within her body and environment. We’ve focuses on the material voices of adoptees, the acoustic properties of their speech, their personal stories, and creative expressions. Through a series of unique and generative “interviews” with adoptees and fostered individuals, Jones merges research and artistic creation to explore important and critical contemporary questions of personhood, identity, ancestry, and nation. This may take the form of sounds, texts, installations, visuals, media, or other new hybrid archival artifacts, with the only emphasis being that form is made in situ, in collaboration, and in connection—from the voice and through the voice. We’ve explores how we might create deeper and meaningful understandings of each other through sound, the literal sounds of our voices and bodies.
Bonnie Jones is a Korean-American improvising musician, poet, and performer working with electronic sound and text. She performs solo and in numerous collaborative music, film, and visual art projects. Bonnie was a founding member of the Transmodern Festival and CHELA Gallery and is currently a member of the High Zero Festival collective. In 2010, she co-founded TECHNE, an organization that introduces women and gender non-conforming youth to technology-focused art making, improvisation, and community collaboration. TECHNE’s programs are delivered through partnerships with grassroots organizations that share an aligned commitment to racial and gender equity. Bonnie has received commissions from the London ICA and Walters Art Museum and has presented her work extensively at institutions in the US, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. She was a 2018 recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. Born in South Korea she was raised on a dairy farm in New Jersey, and currently resides in Providence, RI on the lands of the Narragansett.
Random Event Generator
All writers know they engage in artifice—selecting, arranging, omitting—but in his book, Jay Kirk embraces artifice by interrogating literature’s most reflexive habit: the generation of meaning as commodity. Random Event Generator documents an experiment where Kirk outsourced the job of making his own meaning to a machine built by a parapsychology engineer at Princeton. As automatic “pattern recognition machines,” humans often fail to recognize that pattern does not necessarily equate meaning. After a decade of writing longform features where the job was to undertake curious personal experiences, and/or report on another’s curious personal experience, in order to recreate it all with some degree of verisimilitude and provide a final say (such as his interpretation of those experiences), Kirk came to question the authority of his “reflections,” and, to a degree, the value of experience in general. In his book, by outsourcing and suspending any final meaning-making, Kirk hopes to let the text remain open so that new kinds of meaning, or at least means of experiencing, might ultimately emerge.
Jay Kirk is the author of Avoid the Day: A New Nonfiction in Two Movements (Harper Perennial, 2020), and Kingdom Under Glass, named one of the Washington Post’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2010. His widely anthologized award-winning nonfiction has been published in Harper’s Magazine, GQ, and New York Times Magazine. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Stitching Dreams of Leaving, Dreams of Roots
Pecos, New Mexico
Performance Art, Social Practice
This project stemmed from a tweet in which former president Trump targeted four congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Such xenophobic rhetoric has ruptured past wounds of those who were also told to “go back” at some point in their lives—Nuttaphol Ma was one of them. In response, he began to question the relationship between the US flag and the pledge of allegiance to the flag. The work chronicles a convergence of his durational public stitching of an altered flag and a series of participatory workshops that guide participants to a reconsidered pledge that creates a sense of home for all, echoing our collective voices of belonging. These temporal moments will live in an artist book form which will be gifted to workshop participants and distributed to policy makers and advocacy groups in New Mexico and beyond. Additionally, ephemera from this work will be presented as an installation at cultural institutions and community centers nationwide.
“How can I make work about life if I do not live?” This question profoundly affects Nuttaphol Ma’s creative practice. He moves with sound awareness, taking notes of the mundane, the patterns and sequences from his dreams, past, present and unfolding day. He connects these seemingly disconnected recordings to compose stories about longing, loss, memory, resilience, and the labor of adapting to a new home. They are presented in diverse forms including installations, participatory workshops, and public interventions of contentious spaces through performances. Conversations and reflections arise from the temporal works and are recorded as artist books, essay films, and storytelling.
White River Junction, Vermont
Experimental Film, Animation
Medi-Cine is a feature-length animated documentary flicker film grappling with the relationship between psychology and advertising, the construction of the contemporary self, and the role of emotional health as a means for the accumulation and exploitation of wealth. The film harnesses the potential of animation to illuminate states of consciousness and to warp and contort visual and sonic perceptions of time and space to create a stroboscopic temporal record of collected data. Jodie Mack intends to animate the act of research, calling into question the role of diagrams and illustrations in science and documentary. The film serves as an incubator, merging Mack’s role as an artist and educator in the creation of Medi-Cine Laboratory of Good Vibrations, which will (formally) study the use of flicker film and its potential impact on the nervous system, and (informally) provide space and resources for collaborative projects involving animation and perception.
Jodie Mack is an experimental animator. Her films unleash the kinetic energy of material remnants of domestic and institutional knowledge to illuminate the relationship between decoration and utility. Straddling the boundary between rigor and accessibility, her cinema questions how we ascribe value to things. She’s presented solo programs at the 25FPS Festival, Anthology Film Archives, BFI London Film Festival, Harvard Film Archive, National Gallery of Art, REDCAT, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale, and Wexner Center among others. Her work has been featured in publications including Artforum, Cinema Scope, the New York Times, and Senses of Cinema.
Brooklyn, New York
Theater, Narrative Film
Working with Ghana’s Cape Coast fishing community and a local performance company, The Fisherman is a narrative film about the effect of global warming, globalization, and colonialism on West Africa’s coastline. Zoey Martinson draws from personal stories to address these issues and provide an alternative to the typical “African Poverty” narrative. Martinson’s fascination with the coast started when she was young, living in Ghana’s Volta region. After school she would venture out to sea with the fishermen and join the town pulling-in the net. The fish they gathered would be divided up for people to eat that evening. In this town, there was also a small abandoned slave fort which was used to send captured humans through the middle passage. On the wall hung the bones of a gigantic whale—an extremely rare sight in West Africa—that is said to have ended the slave trade in town by knocking over the boats with human cargo. This whale and the sea became the protector of the people, forcing the traders to leave. Today, there is much trash in the sea and the people have stopped protecting it. The land on which Martinson once stood to the pull the nets is now underwater.
Zoey Martinson is an award winning writer and director in film and theater. Her work focuses on nuanced stories from the Diaspora. Living in Africa, London, and the USA has given her work a unique lens into the stories she tells. Her theater company Smoke & Mirrors Collaborative creates work around social justice themes and has toured internationally. She is a recipient of the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship; NYC Mayor’s Film, TV and Theatre grant; and Filmmakers Without Borders grant. Her work has been nominated for Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, featured on BBC World Service and published in five anthologies, and named one of the 18 Women Making Black History by Popsugar.com. Her work has run off Broadway, toured internationally and is streaming on HBO Max.
MIPSTERZ (Sara Alfageeh, Shimul Chowdhury, Abbas Rattani, Yusuf Siddiquee, Sumer Zuberi)
Brooklyn, New York
Multimedia, Social Practice
ALHAMDU (short for al-hamdu li-llāh الحمد لله) is an evolving experiential art installation and archive created by MIPSTERZ that explores Muslim Futurism—a cultural and artistic imagining of a Muslim future free from the oppression of today, set in a utopic tomorrow of our collective, multi-chromatic creation. ALHAMDU visually and interactively envisions a future where “Third Culture” is the dominant wave, where Muslims exist loudly alongside each other in their found-families. The project revolves around five core themes that reflect legacies and intersections that have come to define American culture and history: imagination, identity, community, resistance, and liberation. ALHAMDU consists of a physical and digital immersive art installation and related public programs, exploring each theme from an artistic and academic lens and interactively considers what “Muslim Futurism” means, draws from, and works toward. The installation consists of original MIPSTERZ artwork and works from Muslim and Muslim-adjacent/ally artists. The accompanying programs are designed to be accessible and expert-informed to foster meaningful dialogue. They invite artists, academics, community leaders, and thought-provokers to contribute to our growing archive and broaden this exploration of Muslim Futurism.
Since 2013, MIPSTERZ has been a non-traditional collaborative space for an emerging generation of Muslim creatives in film, music, and visual art. Their first film Somewhere in America spawned a thriving digital community and was featured in academic, cultural, and public spaces around the world. MIPSTERZ has received awards from Zoo Labs, Knockdown Center, the Shed, and the Kennedy Center to produce curated and original works such as the social performance GOOD FUN MUSLIM FRIENDS CLUB. Alongside more than 100 Muslim creatives, Abbas Rattani, Sara Alfageeh, Sumer Zuberi, Shimul Chowdhury, and Yusuf Siddiquee began developing ALHAMDU in 2018 and recently received support from DDFIA’s Building Bridges Program.
Daughters of the Yam and the Mothers they Become
Brooklyn, New York
Multimedia, Artistic Activism
Daughters of the Yam and the Mothers they Become centers a mother-daughter relationship, re-understanding and re-connecting their journey since birth together as the close of their time feels near. Mumby weaves parallel stories of Black maternity with journeys of Black women who serve as doulas to expectant Black mothers throughout Daughters of the Yam. The health complications and mortality rates of Black mothers during childbirth in the US are widely known. Daughters of the Yam is a portrait of the women who transmute trauma into healing—providing a counterbalance of health and vitality—told through long-form episodes of an audio-documentary. Journey alongside a daughter who’d rather revisit the beginning of their birth story with her mother who may be closer to the end of her time here.
Yasmene Mumby is driven to transform practices within systems of power that perpetuate anti-Black racism. She writes. She guides yoga. She creates audio-documentaries. Yasmene writes about inequity, culture, and wellbeing. She wrote the viral 5,089-word essay Amplify Black Voices: Yoga, you can do better. She created the NPR hosted audio-documentary, Higher Purpose, about an organization that supports people with legal system records to gain livable wage employment in Baltimore. Her latest sound art piece is Ahimsa, an audio memoir on yoga, wellness, and Black lives in 2020.
The film Naaz is inspired by true events. It is a story of a young South Asian woman who arrives in New Jersey as a bride only to find herself trapped in an abusive marriage and a precarious immigration status. Such stories of South Asian women in the US are usually swept under the rug by the communities involved lest it bring “shame” or “dishonor” to the families. These women are often forced to become invisible, in order to survive. Naaz takes a deep dive into this world, presenting a deeply complex and nuanced portrait of a subculture of immigrant women, and the various ways they challenge patriarchy within their families and communities. Afia Nathaniel hopes to develop the idea for the screen and, eventually, a TV series.
Pakistani-American filmmaker Afia Nathaniel’s debut feature film Dukhtar (Daughter) premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 2014 becoming Pakistan’s Official Submission for Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards. The award-winning film was labelled “groundbreaking” by Indiewire and “exquisite” by the New York Times. It played to critical acclaim in over 20 countries and became the Village Voice’s Critics’ Pick and People Magazine’s Pick of the Week. Nathaniel is an alumnus of Columbia’s MFA Film program, IFP/Gotham, Film Independent and Berlin Talent Project Market. She has received support from HBO, Netflix, National Geographic, Tribeca Film Institute, Cinereach, WIF, NYFA, Rotterdam, Sorfond, NYSCA and HFPA.
You will find playgrounds among palm trees
Lagos, Nigeria and Gwynedd, Pennsylvania
Architecture & Design, Artistic Activism
An estimated five public play spaces in Lagos, Nigeria serve over 20 million Lagosians. Stunned by this number Temitayo Ogunbiyi began to rethink what constitutes play. How can the meanings of and stimuli for play shift within, inform, build, reinforce and reflect communities? Playing, role play, collaborative play and being played may be found in casual interactions, gesticulations, and other strategies for survival. Referencing anthropological histories, this project seeks to capture notions of communal relations and responsibility through play as physical and virtual exchanges. Eco-concerned in execution, the project aims to position diverse histories of people—Africans, Caribbeans, and their diasporas especially—as catalysts for future problem solvers by staging playful exchanges. How can such interactions generate critical perspectives of the present towards more equitable futures? How can play question dominant narratives of knowledge and technology?
Temitayo Ogunbiyi explores environment, line, and representation. Moving between mediums, her work links current events and anthropological histories, and aims to build diverse communities from perspective as Nigerian-American-Jamaican. Ogunbiyi is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, including a 2020-2021 Digital Earth Fellowship, a 2018 Smithsonian Artist in Research Fellowship and a 2014 Ford Foundation Fellowship. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Madre Museum in Naples, Italy; the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts; the Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos; the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn, New York; the Perm Art Museum in Perm, Russia; a curatorial publication for the 10th Berlin Biennale; the Fries Museum in Berlin; and the 2nd Lagos Biennial.
Dance, Cultural Organizing
Space Carcasses is an interdisciplinary performance that juxtaposes, superimposes, and amplifies the relationship between spaces that echo with Afrodiasporic forced migrations. Factor’s Row, Savannah, Georgia, La Rochelle, France, and sites in Northern Nigeria have been the focus of early research. A carcass leaves an imprint of a version of us we are no longer, a “skin,” a container that we have left behind. Like the residue of the body’s presence, the residue of these spaces resonate with their layered meanings. By reunifying these spaces with technology as the facilitator and the body as a bridge, Space Carcasses will record, recontextualize, and re-remember how space, place, history, lineage are linked together. Space Carcasses asserts a “trans+space+time” Africanness, a transnational membership across the Afrodiaspora that finds resonance in a sense of detachment—forced and otherwise—from our shared cultural roots and unmoored attachment to one another in our shared experiences of continuance in spite of that detachment. Space Carcasses harnesses this global, technological moment to facilitate the folding of time and space that has been occurring throughout the Afrodiasporic experience, using technology to digitally inhabit places while referencing back to their embodied, historical narratives.
Onye Ozuzu is a performing artist, choreographer, administrator, educator, and researcher, currently serving as the Dean of the College of the Arts at the University of Florida. She has dedicated much of her work as a dance artist to cultivating space for diverse dance forms to exist in a pluralist relationship to one another. Since 1997, she has been presenting choreographic work nationally and internationally. Recent work includes, Touch My Beloved’s Thought, a collaboration with jazz composer Greg Ward, and Project Tool, supported by the Joyce Foundation, Chicago Dancemakers Forum, and the National Performance Network Creation Fund.
Ghost Dance and the Technological Capital
Los Angeles, California
Video Art, Experimental Film
Ghost Dance and the Technological Capital aims to study the production of images representing landscape as technological capital. Looking at its implications on the body and landscape, Prancha takes into account the problematics between landscape and technology, examining landscape as commodity, as a space of desire, as a destination for tourism, and as fetish for another reality (especially in films and advertisements). Starting with the analyses of the Ghost Dance rituals used by indigenous communities to go back in time and expel the white male from their lands, the project will incorporate writing, close readings, a series of field trips, and image-making, culminating in an experimental film.
Lúcia Prancha, born 1985 in Lisboa, Portugal, obtained her MFA from CalArts in 2015 after completing BA studies in Lisbon, 2009, and MA in São Paulo, 2012. Her work has been exhibited at Sesc-Pompéia in São Paulo, Galeria Dinamo in Porto, LACA in Los Angeles, Hordaland Kunstsenter in Bergen, Serralves Foundation in Porto, Galeria Leme in São Paulo, Bienal de São Paulo, Museu Berardo, Portuguese Cinematheque, Les Rencontres Internationales Nouveau Cinéma et Art Contemporain in Paris, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Curtas Vila do Conde – International Film Festival, and at Jan van Eyck Akademie in Maastricht. Prancha was also a visiting artist faculty at CalArts.
Minneapolis, Minnesota & New York, New York
Music Performance, Multimedia Performance
Tida is an interdisciplinary performance about intergenerational and cross-cultural identity explored through a Thai-American woman’s maternal lineage. Integrating music, movement, film and word, Mary Prescott investigates her mother’s undocumented Thai ancestry, her experience as an immigrant raising biracial children in the midwest, and the resulting impacts on three generations of women. Prescott learns about her ancestral identity for the first time through interviews with family elders, and about her mother’s sacrifices of assimilation, loss of identity, invisibility, and isolation. She processes these oral histories through the lens of a second generation, biracial Thai-American woman, intertwining Thai and Western influences to reflect a simultaneous untangling and crossing of cultures, and the resonances and dissonances that occur as a result. Tida gives voice and visibility to a marginalized community of Asian women, values the Asian female immigrant experience and legacy, and takes steps to protect an important history and cultural identity.
Mary Prescott is a Thai-American interdisciplinary artist, composer, and pianist who explores the foundations and facets of identity and social conditions through experiential performance. The Washington Post describes her work as “a bright light cast forward,” “uncompromising,” and “masterfully envisioned.” Prescott is an awardee of the National Performance Network, New Music USA, American Composers Forum, The American Opera Project, and Opera America; commissioned by Roulette, Living Arts, Public Functionary, White Snake Projects, Shepherdess Duo, Piano Teachers Congress, and Duo Harmonia. She has held residencies with Roulette, Lanesboro Arts, Avaloch Farm, and Arts Letters and Numbers.
Renaissance Gems of Black Belt Chicago (Celeste Beatty, Ann Eskridge, Christine Melton, Reginald R. Robinson)
Trilogy of Plays: If Pekin is a Duck, Why am I in Chicago aka The Bet, McCabe's Minstrels, and Bards and Bets
Musical Theater, Theater
Artistic collaborators from four American cities connect serendipitously to dramatize history with the support of rare artifacts. Reginald R. Robinson (Chicago) is a self-taught MacArthur “Genius” who emphasizes story-telling through his musical compositions; Christine Melton (Philadelphia) has penned several historical plays for schools; Celeste Beatty (Winston-Salem) and Ann Eskridge (Detroit) inherited memorabilia of vaudevillians, Dan McCabe and Alfred Anderson, that has not been seen since the early 1900s when it was stored in family attics. These four artists will create a trilogy of plays linked together with Robinson’s original ragtime music to compose a cohesive work. The Bet, a play by Eskridge, is inspired by a 1912 Chicago Defender newspaper article about a kidnapped composer, Alfred Anderson, whose ransom is his music. Melton will script McCabe’s Minstrels about the producer-turned-poet Dan McCabe. Lyrics by luminaries on McCabe’s roster will bridge different worlds that are centuries apart: Shakespeare’s theatre in 1500s London and McCabe’s Pekin Theatre in 1800s Chicago. Bards and Bets will be a series of multimedia vignettes using the discovered memorabilia to create a play within a play recalling McCabe and Anderson’s work with the vaudeville elite.
Renowned lecturer, pianist/composer, Reginald R. Robinson, is a 2004 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow for his “Innovative Ragtime Piano Works and Music Research.” His 1993 debut album with 17 original tunes, was on Delmark Records. Robinson appeared on acclaimed Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz; was contributing historian for the 2010 documentary Chicago’s Black Metropolis; gave a performance/lecture on Scott Joplin’s music at The Schomburg NY; Symphony Center Presents commissioned his work on James Reese Europe; composed for Chicago’s Goodman Theater; created a Ragtime Work for the left hand; and collaborated with MacArthur fellows in Disability Activism, and Illinois Humanities for “An Evening at the Pekin Theater” in 2017.
Curse of the Mutant Heirloom
Documentary Film, Animation
What do you do when you find out that the mother you thought gave you nothing actually gave you an heirloom you’ll never get rid of? BRCA gene mutations give women up to an 87% risk for breast cancer and a 60% risk for ovarian cancer. No one likes these odds, but imagine you’ve inherited these womanly time-bombs from a checked-out mother you’ve always felt estranged from. DNA testing has produced the first generation of Previvors—healthy women living with the genetic inevitability of cancer. Previvors are the first large group of people able to intervene in their medical futures. The hybrid documentary, Curse of the Mutant Heirloom, examines the price of this gift, charting Debra Schaffner’s path as a Previvor and daughter of a holocaust survivor. As she and her BRCA sisters preemptively remove their most female organs, they face a medical system embedded in misogyny and profit-motives. Her body and the world both need to change—but the biggest mystery is whether she’ll ever be able to forgive her robotic mother.
Debra Schaffner was raised by robots in the suburbs of New Jersey. She eventually made her way west where she worked as a bike messenger, carpenter, and video editor before finding her voice as a filmmaker. Curse of the Mutant Heirloom is her first feature film, which has been supported by Cal Humanities, BAVC MediaMaker, and Jewish Film Institute.
Jamie Zane Smith
Craft, Ecological Art
Ngya’awish Daomentsa or Turtle Earth re-imagines a reciprocal cycle that engages sustainability in arts production and forest interaction. The program builds reciprocal relationships with the environment that can sustain culture for generations to come, utilizing ecological design along with ancestral imagery and cultural research to sustain indigenous culture. The process involves drafting and implementing permaculture land use designs that focus on reestablishing native plantings and life-ways, culminating in an exhibition of sculptural clay vessels and a group of large format images. An off-grid studio will be constructed, finished with a solar power system and walls made from natural materials from the forest, to house an apprentice program for knowledge sharing. The physical and spatial design of the land will be distilled down in symbols and visualized on the surface of the Wendat pottery vessels. Implementation of the program strengthens the solidarity of Wyandot cultural arts, demonstrating indigenous sensibilities to the local community and promoting a reciprocal relationship with the land.
Jamie Zane Smith is a Wyandot ceramic artist who lives in the Missouri Ozarks. His building style explores the language of symbol and design as expressed through surface textures. The imagery he references are from traditional sources. His research and practice deepen his relationship to his own indigenous heritage. Jamie lives with his wife and three daughters in a historic schoolhouse building converted into a cabin. He is currently building a cob house and pottery studio. While the majority of his work is in native, slip painted terra-cotta, he is currently building a cross-draft wood-fired kiln.
Untitled Digital Privacy Project
London, United Kingdom
A human rights activist is interrogated and prosecuted under terror laws for refusing to disclose the passwords to his electronic devices during a border stop. Untitled Digital Privacy Project is a hybrid feature documentary that asks: how has a rapidly-evolving technological landscape redefined the delicate relationship between the citizen and the state?
Kate Stonehill is an award-winning filmmaker whose work explores power, identity, and citizenship in the digital age. Her films embrace the nexus between visual art and journalism, playing with genre conventions to investigate truth. She has exhibited work at the BFI London Film Festival, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, DOC NYC, AFI Docs, and Sheffield Doc/Fest, and is a recipient of the 2020 Logan Nonfiction Fellowship. Her upcoming feature documentary has been supported by the Tribeca Film Institute, Catapult Film Fund, and BFI/Doc Society.
Jessica Strang & Mike Taylor
The Inevitable Coast
St. Augustine, Florida
Drawing & Illustration, Cultural Organizing
Global warming is already a reality, and Florida’s peninsula is especially vulnerable. Its coastal communities can serve as a test case for adaptation for the entire country. With a saturated palate as well as the improbable blueprints of disastrous coastal overdevelopment, each page of The Inevitable Coast is a snapshot of paradise lost, an architectural rendering of a possible adaptation, and an exercise in speculative fiction, asking: how do we ameliorate an ecological disaster already affecting the entire country? What will the neighborhoods of the next decade look like, after banks cut funding to coastal home building? What will food production look like? What about prisons? The Inevitable Coast is a book accompanied by a website, updated to include new research, articles, and source material concerning the ever-changing dynamics of climate science and global capital’s responses.
Mike Taylor is a Florida-based painter and screen printer. Along with architectural designer, Jessica Strang, his current book project, The Inevitable Coast, is an investigation of social and architectural adaptive possibilities in the era of global warming. Taylor’s hand-printed, hand-bound books have been collected and exhibited widely. He was awarded a Yaddo residency for 2021.
Brooklyn, New York
Architecture & Design, Bio Art
Field is a research-led landscape intervention that investigates the widespread use of manicured lawns in public spaces. Representing the homogeneity, control, and order visible in most contemporary civic spaces, these lawns are ecologically unsustainable, comprising usually of genetically modified seeds that do not flower and requiring extensive resources. In collaboration with city partners, the project will temporarily pause the routine mowing and fertilizing of civic lawns for one season. Bio-sculptures, impregnated with native wildflower seeds will slowly dissolve into the growing grasses, introducing new birth cycles on the lawns. Generating unexpected encounters amongst people, birds, animals, weeds, and flowers, Field creates a living archive, a transitory zone of interaction between natural and constructed systems that reimagines the presence of the body within an ever-changing landscape. Presently focused in Governors Island in New York City and Oakland, the project will also develop internationally in São Paulo and Delhi.
Supermrin is an Indian artist working at the intersections of architecture, art, and design. Through research-led, speculative, and site-specific interventions, she constructs space as a living host and embodied nurturance. She is interested in conceptions of reality, pleasure, and nature within eastern practices. Supermrin is a visiting artist at Pratt GAUD, and an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. She is the founder of Streetlight, a critical spatial laboratory for decolonizing design within public space. Her work has been exhibited at the Headlands Center for the Arts, the San Francisco Mint, the First Presbyterian Church of New York, ChaShaMa, and the India Habitat Center.
Otherland combines comic reportage with personal stories from immigrant interviews and arranges them into a singular narrative through life’s familiar moments. GB Tran emphasizes the dichotomy between his life as a born US citizen and the far more complicated one for those coming from another land. The graphic novel will connect 15-20 individual stories of varying lengths into a single narrative arc beginning with birth, then childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, midlife, elder years, and concluding with death. These stories cover a range of themes and experiences, including: a Nigerian immigrant’s first time in a bar for a work party and her co-workers not realizing how against cultural norms and uncomfortable it was for her; an Indian immigrant’s first attempt at ordering pizza; an Egyptian immigrant, who after rushing her daughter to the ER, copes with the enormous medical bill while also paying for care for her elderly parents in Egypt. Otherland aspires to strengthen our bonds to each other regardless of where we’re from and who we are. By sharing these stories, Tran hopes to reveal the threads of essential human experiences that bind us all.
A publishing cartoonist for over 15 years, GB Tran’s most recognized work is Vietnamerica (Random House, 2011), a 288-page comic memoir of his family’s trauma, tragedy, and triumph as war refugees. Its accolades include a Society of Illustrator’s gold medal, Eisner nomination (known as the “Oscars of comics”), and Time Magazine’s “Top Ten Graphic Memoirs of All Time” list. Tran’s other comics explore a range of issues from mental health (People Recover, SAMHSA 2013) to immigration (Steal This Country, Viking 2018) to his family’s past and how it continues shaping their future (The Believer, 2018 and Fatherhood Survival Guide, an ongoing webcomic).
Filmmaker Sierra Urich sets out to make a film about her mother and grandmother’s coming-of-age experiences in Iran. Instead, while excavating the memories of their formative years, she unearths the forces behind her fractured Iranian identity, her family’s traumas, and her need to confront them. Following the three women over the course of a shared summer vacation, Joonam slips through time to transport the audience into a multi-media dreamscape, swirling the memories of Sierra’s grandmother Behjat as a preteen bride in 1940’s Ardabil, her mother Mitra as a rebellious teenager in Isfahan during the 1970 Islamic Revolution, and her own upbringing as an American girl in early 2000’s Vermont. Caught between two worlds where the real and imaginary are indistinguishable, Joonam examines the relationships between mother and daughter, Iran and America, and fear and longing.
Sierra Urich is an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker whose work blends animation, sculpture, video art, and narrative and nonfiction filmmaking. In 2013 she received her BFA in Illustration and Film/Animation/Video from RISD, with supplementary studies in creative writing at Brown University. She was an artist-in-residence at The Banff Centre for the Arts 2017, Sundance Nonfiction Directors Fellow 2018, Points North Fellow 2018, and Firelight Doc Lab Fellow 2021. Her first feature film, Joonam (in production) has received support from Sundance Institute, HBO Documentary Films, Cinereach, Catapult Film Fund, Tribeca Institute, Independent Filmmaker Project, LEF Foundation, Firelight Media, and Field of Vision.
Miami, Florida & New York, New York
Rest Ashore, a new large-scale multichannel video installation by Afro-Latinx multi-disciplinary artist Juana Valdes. It reexamines the Cuban migration experience over the past sixty years and its relation to the current global refugee crisis. The installation examines similarities in how the refugee crisis has been documented and disseminated in mass media throughout the decades while creating a new visual vernacular sharing the experience of those who migrate by sea. Using the Cuban-American rafters’ “Balseros” experience as a starting point and reflecting upon past and current migration by sea, Rest Ashore addresses the current refugee crisis worldwide, remembering and recognizing those refugees who died at sea in their journeys. The project pushes past the conventional beliefs of what it means to be a refugee and questions how these experiences are chronicled in the media and recorded in our memories.
Juana Valdes’s work was part of the Perez Art Museum Miami, in “Polyphonic: Celebrating PAMM’s Fund for African American Art.” Her recent solo exhibitions included Rest Ashore on view at Locust Projects and Terrestrial Bodies, at the Cuban Legacy Gallery, MDC Special Collections in Miami in 2020. Her work was in the traveling exhibition “Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago,” part of Pacific Standard Time: LALA for the Museum of Latin American Art in California. Recent awards include Anonymous Was A Woman Grant (2020), Joan Mitchell Foundation grant (2018), The Ellies Creator Award (2018); the National Association of Latinos Arts and Culture Visual Artists Grant (2017); New York Foundation for the Arts, Sculpture (2011).
It Was A Rebellion
Sound Art, Digital Media
It Was A Rebellion is an ongoing sound project commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination and the Chicago uprising of April 5, 1968. This work premiered in 2018 as a pirate radio broadcast in Homan Square, a former Chicago Police Department “black site” for torture victims and disappeareds, located in a neighborhood historically impacted by disinvestment and hyper-policing. It amplifies connections between then and now, redeeming radical impulses and invasions in the public space as fundamental expressions for hope and change, reminding us of the political dimensions under the surface of Black life. From the Civil Rights Era to Minneapolis to Louisville to Ferguson to Baltimore to Chicago, the public expression of Black rage that escalates into physical confrontation or property damage is often framed as mindless barbarism by municipal authorities and mainstream media with the word “riot.” In this sonic exploration, Sadie Woods recuperates and challenges the notion of “riot” and reframes it as legitimate, even loving, insurgency. Through explorations of protest music, ethics and perspectives of news media culture, political speeches, ephemeral and symbolic sounds, Woods takes us on a journey that reverberates with echoes of the unheard of yesterday’s past and sentiments of our present social struggles.
Sadie Woods, born in Chicago, 1978, is an award winning post-disciplinary artist, independent curator, and deejay. Woods’s work focuses primarily on social movements, cultural memory, and producing collaborations within communities of difference. Woods received her BA from Columbia College and MFA from The School of the Art Institute. She is a 2020 recipient of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Esteemed Artist Award, the Co-Founder and Creative Director of The Petty Biennial, Co-Founder and Curatorial Consultant of Selenite Arts Advisory, Faculty at the School of the Art Institute, and Resident Deejay at Lumpen Radio 105.5FM and Vocalo 91.5FM in Chicago.
Farihah Zaman & Jeff Reichert
Watermelon Thump Queen
Brooklyn, New York
For sixty years, the Watermelon Thump Queen has been a symbol of pride for Luling, Texas—more people turn out to vote for the teenage girl who will represent the town for the next year than for any political election. As Luling’s demographic evolves but the faces of those in power do not, and as money coming in from the oil fields dwindles, the stakes of becoming Thump Queen intensify. As with any election, latent tensions around class, race, and gender are brought to the fore. This feature-length documentary captures what it means to be a young woman coming of age in Trump-era America and beyond, the unspooling of one year’s election cycle supported and complicated by the stories of their mothers, grandmothers, and a variety of Luling women across generations and identities. These stories will be woven into a complex but ultimately hopeful portrait of a town that, like so many around the country, must reconsider its identity in the face of great change.
Farihah Zaman is a queer, Bangladeshi-American filmmaker, critic, and curator. She recently produced the Sundance-award winning Netflix Original Ghosts of Sugar Land, which was shortlisted for the 2020 Academy Award. Zaman has supported fellow filmmakers like Garrett Bradley, Marshall Curry, Steve Maing, and Ramell Ross as the Production Manager for the Laura Poitras founded Field Vision, with equity driven collectives like Beyond Inclusion and Brown Girls Doc Mafia, and various teaching and mentoring roles at Bard College, SVA, NYU, Uniondocs, and others. Jeff Reichert is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and critic. His films have screened worldwide and been awarded the Film Independent Spirit Award, Gotham Award and Cinema Eye Honor, and been nominated for the BAFTA, Peabody and Dupont amongst other honors. He is also the co–founder and editor of the online film journal Reverse Shot (est. 2003), now a publication of Museum of the Moving Image. Their works as collaborators include the feature films Remote Area Medical (2013), This Time Next Year (2014), and Feast of the Epiphany (2018), and numerous short films. Reichert and Zaman are members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.