upcoming grant deadline: 05/15/2019

upcoming grant deadline: 05/15/2019

Iris Brown

Iris began making muñecas negras out of necessity over nine years ago when she couldn’t find beautiful black dolls in stores, dolls that represented her Puerto Rican culture. As someone who had never sewn before, Iris taught herself how to make dolls by using other dolls as an example. She developed her own sewing style without using patterns. To Iris this is an important aspect of transformative art: being a woman who didn’t know how to sew but who now creates beautiful culturally appropriate dolls, proves that anyone can create, that we all have inspiration to create, invent. She creates “dolls that tell a story — that connect people on a deeper level.” Dollmaking gives Iris the opportunity to educate herself about her history and culture and share that knowledge with others in her Norris Square neighborhood that she has lived in for the past thirty years. In particular, the dolls allow her to better communicate with young people, talking about the influence of Africans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Iris says that it is easier to start conversations with dolls than with books. With her dolls, she has engaged folks in conversations about religion, culture, and race. She knows her dolls reach people, when friends and others tell her how the dolls remind them of people in their lives. To Iris, the purpose of creating dolls is not just to create art, it is to share culture: “Each doll has a spirit, each one is infused with culture.” Now young girls in her neighborhood have access to a doll that looks like them and reflects their heritage.


Leeway grant?

Art and Change Grant

The Art and Change Grant (ACG) provides project-based grants of up to $2,500 to women and trans* artists and cultural producers in greater Philadelphia to fund art for social change projects. [read more]

deadline 03/01
Upcoming events
03/2712:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Understanding Taxes for Artists

Leeway is partnering with CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia and Vision Driven Artists for three sessions designed to help artists understand tax season!

[learn more]

03/276:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Infosession at Taller Puertorriqueño

Learn more about our grant programs and application process at this information session!

[learn more]