upcoming grant deadline: 08/01/2018

upcoming grant deadline: 08/01/2018

Iris Brown

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2005 Leeway Transformation Award – $15,000

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?

Leeway Transformation Award

The Transformation Award provides unrestricted annual awards of $15,000 to women and trans* artists and cultural producers living in Greater Philadelphia who create art for social change and have done so for the past five years or more, demonstrating a long-term commitment to social change work. [read more]

deadline 05/15
Upcoming events
07/241:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Facebook LIVE Info Session

Are you thinking about applying for the Art and Change Grant or the Leeway Transformation Award but not sure of how to go about it? Join us on Facebook LIVE and get your questions answered.​

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08/087:00 pm - 8:30 pm

12x12: LaTreice Branson

High-functioning fatigue. Pride in overworking and extending yourself. Getting the job done at all costs. It's the "exhaustion complex" in full force. Join artist and educator LaTreice Branson in this vivacious and personal exploration of the challenges of being an exhausted woman. Follow LaTreice's musical journey from exhaustion to relaxation and self-love, and then join in, re-setting your heart, mind, and body, with a joy-filled, interactive drumming finale.

[learn more]