10 Women Artists Awarded Leeway Foundation's June 2005 Art and Change Grants
Philadelphia, PA — From a documentary about the Hayti community in Coatesville to a book project sharing stories from the Chinese Revolution to a media arts workshop exploring the symbols and icons related to 'women' and the act of creating new icons–Philadelphia-area women artists are inspiring change in their communities and themselves.
The Leeway Foundation's 2005 Art and Change Grants celebrate the power and vision of women artists, granting $24,650 to 10 artists in the third of four grant cycles for the year. The grantees were selected from a pool of 69 applicants by a local review panel of women with extensive art and change experience. The review panel members were: Vashti Dubois, Nijmie Dzurinko, Joan Huckstep, and Rana Sindhikara.
The Art and Change Grant program provides immediate, short-term grants of up to $2,500 to women artists (including transgender women artists) residing in the five-county Philadelphia region who need financial assistance to take advantage of an opportunity for art and change. From dancers to visual artists to photographers, this grant supports women artists working for change in any artistic discipline.
Toni Barber of Coatesville
• Documentary filmmaking | granted $2,500
• Community Partner: Tina Morton
Toni will create and produce a documentary on the small, historically Black community of Hayti in Coatesville, PA in which she grew up. Tina Morton, a veteran filmmaker and a fellow Hayti community member will work with Toni on developing this piece. Toni wants to use this documentary as a way to preserve the stories and lives of her family and neighbors through interviews with Hayti's elders, research and historical documentation. She hopes to build a sense of community and understanding of Hayti's unique history amongst its new and long-time residents.
Wendy Brown of Philadelphia
• Baking, pastry | granted $2,500
• Community Partner: Norris Square Neighborhood Project
Wendy will develop her own skills as a creative baker through her cooking workshops for children at NSNP. She wants to preserve the art of baking and cooking, skills that are getting lost with modern conveniences. Through her classes and her commitment to the neighborhood in which she was raised, Wendy aims to be a positive example to the children she works with, while sharing a real-life skill and possibly inspiring others to become cooks or pastry chefs.
Dao-yuan Chou of Philadelphia
• Creative non-fiction | granted $2,500
• Community Partner: Community Youth Organizing Campaign
Dao-yuan will be taking two interviews from an oral history project she conducted from 1995 to 1998 with folks involved in the Chinese Revolution and turning them into stories that share the complexity of a revolutionary people's movement. In particular, her book will focus on her interviews with a dairy farmer and nuclear physicist who were moved to join the Revolution. Her goal is to make this social change history accessible to folks locally who are also struggling for change.
Laureen Griffin of Philadelphia
• Video, photography | granted $2,150
• Community Partner: William Way Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center
Laureen will lead a 10-session photography/video/digital imaging arts workshop at William Way for folks who identify as 'women' to explore the modern and historical iconography of 'women.' The sessions will focus on participants using various media arts to create icons they would want to see that represent the group's culture, including those who are queer, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, feminine/masculine, androgynous, femme, butch, goddess, and/or dyke, along with icons that represent participants as they see themselves, often with no specific gendered label at all. The last session will include a public reception and screening of the participants' work.
Valerie Harris of Philadelphia
• Literary arts, publishing | granted $2,500
• Community Partner: Paul Robeson House of the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
Valerie will publish a literary anthology of writing by young people participating in her Teen Writers Academy, an intensive writing workshop series for the teenagers in West Philadelphia. Her workshops encourage young people to use writing as way to see the possibilities and poetry in their lives, allowing for creative, revealing and healing writing. This anthology will focus on the collective experiences of making written work public through publishing. In addition to celebrating the teens' writing, the process of seeing their work in print may well change how they see themselves and their lives.
Pat McLean-RaShine of Philadelphia
• Cultural and artistic expression | granted $2,500
• Community Partner: Temple University Pan-African Studies Community Education Program
Pat, a performance poet, will facilitate Tomorrow's Girls, a summer program that she created for young women that now takes place at PASCEP. Her program focuses on self-discovery and building self-esteem through cultural and artistic expression, such as poetry, dance, music and other arts and crafts, as well as building positive relationships with family and community. Much like Pat's own poetry, she encourages girls to examine and create art about the world from their own perspective.
Tina Morton of Philadelphia
• Film, video | granted $2,500
• Community Partner: ODUNDE
Tina will create a video that documents the cultural significance of the ODUNDE festival in South Philadelphia, as one of the oldest and largest African American festivals in the US, and its founder Lois Fernandez. After working with Lois on the 8-minute documentary, "The Taking of South Central... Philadelphia" (a Precious Places Project of the Scribe Video Center), Tina realized that the story of ODUNDE merited a more detailed video project. This documentary will share this story of a cultural warrior and the importance of her and ODUNDE in Philadelphia and within a global African Diasporic context.
Nitza W. Rosario of Philadelphia
• Pottery | granted $2,500
• Community Partner: Women's Community Revitalization Project
Nitza will teach pottery classes to girls at the WCRP. As a Puerto Rican woman raised in North Philadelphia, Nitza wants to teach pottery that includes indigenous symbols from Puerto Rico and focuses on creating pottery similar to that created by Taino women. In addition to learning how to create functional pieces, the girls will make a connection between pottery and their heritage.
Deb Shoval of Philadelphia
• Writing, screenplay | granted $2,500
• Community Partner: Maria Govan
Deb will travel to Israel and Palestine to interview Israeli refuseniks and Palestinian artists from the first Intifada to help her finish the screenplay for her feature film, "Poppies and Olives." Her art and activism is based on her identity as a queer Jewish-American writer/artist who opposes the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and will be shared through her film with queer political analysis, narratives that include Israeli military refusal, Palestinians in diaspora, and exposure to Palestinian art. Maria Govan, a screenwriter and film director, will work with Deb to discuss, read and critique her screenplay.
Jamese Wells of Philadelphia
• Documentary filmmaking | granted $2,500
• Community Partner: Prometheus Radio Project
Jamese will travel along with others from PRP to Tanzania, there she will document Africans from the Diaspora working with folks from all across Africa to build a 300-watt community radio station at the United African Alliance Community Center. This experience will allow her to interview a multi-generational group of artists and activists for a short documentary exploring the potential for global Africans to reconnect and create change within themselves, their communities, and the world. This film will also document this coming together of people from across the Diaspora to build something tangible and in the process also strengthen the spirit of resistance.
The Review Panel
Vashti Dubois has been an arts activist for over twenty years. She is a writer, director, performance artist and subversive storyteller. She co-founded the off Broadway theater company Mumbo Jumbo in the late eighties. While Vashti continues to produce, direct and perform from Boston to New York and now Philadelphia, she is particularly interested in how all art has the ability to educate, transform, and connect disparate communities. Most recently, Vashti was the director for the Girls Center, an extended day treatment program in North Philadelphia, where she established the arts as a central component of the programming. Students were encouraged to use the arts as a platform for expressing their often unpopular insights and concerns on a range of issues from the juvenile justice system to the war.
Nijmie Dzurinko is an organizer, poet, popular educator, and movement strategist who has lived and worked in Philadelphia for 12 years. Domestically, her work has been focused on building power among youth members of the Philadelphia Student Union who are seeking to make changes in their schools. She is also a founding member of the International Women's Peace Service, a human rights organization that witnesses and intervenes in human rights violations in the Occupied West Bank. Currently she is a Masters candidate in Urban Studies at Temple University. Nijmie has been writing poetry since she was 12 and uses her art to unleash our capacities for change.
Joan Huckstep, a native of Detroit, Michigan. Philadelphia has been her second home since childhood until she relocated after graduating from college. Huckstep has worked professionally as an independent choreographer, dancer, actor, and designer. She has received grants and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (1985-89) and was formerly on their Resident Artist Roster. Huckstep has had professional experience in theatre appearing in numerous productions in Philadelphia and Detroit. She has also been an educator with teaching experience in language arts and social studies from early childhood to undergraduate levels. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Antioch College and a Doctorate of Education in Dance History with a concentration in public history (archival studies and oral history) from Temple University where she was a Future Faculty Fellow. Her research interests concern sociopolitical embodiment in the dance traditions of African and the African Diaspora.
Rana Sindhikara is a photographer and community-based teaching artist. She has used her artistic vision to explore her identity as a woman of mixed heritage. She received the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation's "Artists and Communities" grant and the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership "School District of Philadelphia" pilot grant for her work with COSACOSA's "Memory Mine" project, in collaboration with Homer Jackson and Janet Goldner. She has worked with numerous schools, community centers, and non-profit organizations, including ARTWorks in Different Places, Ford-Macarobin Community Center, the Kenderton School, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Temple University. Her work has been displayed in gallery spaces throughout Philadelphia, as part of the Fringe Festival, and published in local newspapers. She is currently an Artists in Communities Training Fellow and Coordinator of Educational Programming at the Asian Arts Initiative.
The Leeway Foundation Applications and guidelines for the Art and Change Grant are available online (leeway.org) or by calling Leeway (215.545-4078). The remaining deadline for this year is October 31, 2005. Applications for the 2006 Art and Change Grant program will be available in December 2005.
In addition to the Art and Change Grant, Leeway offers the Transformation Award, a $15,000 award given annually to women artists living in the five-county Philadelphia area who have been creating art and change work for at least five years and have financial need. Please call Leeway or visit our website for more information. The Stage 1 deadline for the award is April 6, 2005.
The Leeway Foundation's mission is to support individual women artists, arts programs and arts organizations, focusing on the Greater Philadelphia region, in order to help them achieve individual and community transformation.
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