In honor of Leeway’s 20th anniversary and Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) coming to Philadelphia, we invite you to join us on Saturday, October 5, for a day-long event that will convene artists, activists, cultural workers, organizers, scholars, and community leaders to celebrate examples from the past two decades where artists and cultural producers have connected their practice to social change movements.
The day will consist of a keynote presentation, three plenary sessions, and pop-up performances. Session topics include: “Claiming Space: Community to Museum,” “Embedded in Community: What Is Social Practice?” and “Hybridism: Artists as Activists.” The keynote and plenary sessions will take place at Temple Contemporary (2001 N. 13th Street).
Participants include: anonymous bodies (Kate Watson-Wallace and Jaamil Kosoko), visual artist and filmmaker Bayeté Ross Smith, writer/cultural organizer Jeff Chang, visual artist Jesus Barraza, poet Franny Choi, dancer/musician Germaine Ingram (ACG '12, LTA '08), composer and activist Imani Uzuri, musician/filmmaker Invincible, visual artist Melanie Cervantes, photographer and activist, Mia Nakano, Executive Director, Lambent Foundation Michelle Coffey, visual artist Pepón Osorio, pigeon presents (Jacob Winterstein and Franny Choi), Executive Director-Tucson Pima Arts Council Roberto Bedoya, curator/scholar/filmmaker Roya Rastegar, and artist and curator Shelly Spector (ACG '12).
Visual artist/organizer Favianna Rodriguez will give the keynote address and the day will be hosted by scholar/producer Yaba Blay (ACG '10) with a special message from philosopher/activist Grace Lee Boggs. After the symposium, a reception and program of performances produced in collab oration with the Race Peace Project and GIA will take place at Asian Arts Initiative (1219 Vine Street), from 8pm-11pm. Admission is FREE.
10:00am Session 1 Bayeté Ross Smith, Michelle Coffey, LJ Roberts, Roya Rastegar, Shelley Spector
12:00pm Keynote Favianna Rodriguez
2:30pm Session 2 Germaine Ingram, Invincible, Jesus Barraza, Marlène Ramirez-Cancio, Pepón Osorio
4:30pm Session 3 Jeff Chang, Melanie Cervantes, Mia Nakano, Roberto Bedoya, Ryann Holmes
anonymous bodies art collective is an interdisciplinary performance company co-directed by Kate Watson- Wallace and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, based in New York and Philadelphia. As a collective, the two co-directors create work independently and collaboratively, creating an array of art projects, that range from solo performances in gallery settings, to larger performance installations on-site. It is a project-based company that collaborates with a diverse group of dancers, visual artists, musicians, stylists, and DJs, drawing upon the traditions of visual art, post-modern dance, site-specific study, conceptual and performance art, audience participation and public spectacle. Known for their creative use of ordinary space, anonymous bodies “has a gift for making pockets of space feel infinite. Wild imagination ruled,” according to The New York Times.
Bayeté Ross Smith is an artist, photographer, and educator living in New York City. He is represented by beta pictoris gallery/Maus Contemporary. He began his career as a photojournalist with the Knight Ridder Newspaper Corporation. Bayeté has exhibited with organizations and institutions such as San Francisco Arts Commission, Brooklyn Museum, Oakland Museum of California, MoMA P.S.1, Duetsche Bank, Rush Arts Gallery, Leica Gallery, Utah MOCA, Patricia Sweetow Gallery, Goethe Institute (Ghana), and Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Poland). His collaborative projects, Along The Way and Question Bridge: Black Males, have shown at the 2008 and 2012 Sundance Film Festival, respectively. His work has also been featured at the Sheffield Doc Fest and the L.A. Film Festival. Bayeté is currently the Associate Program Director for Kings Against Violence Initiative, a violence prevention non-profit organization that has a partnership with Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.
Favianna Rodriguez is a transnational visual artist whose work depicts how women, migrants, and outsiders, are affected by global politics, economic upheaval, patriarchy, and interdependence. When Favianna is not making art, she is directing CultureStr/ke, a national arts organization that engages artists, writers, and performers, in migrant rights. In 2009, she co-founded Presente.org, a national online organizing network dedicated to the political empowerment of Latino communities.
Imani Uzuri was recently praised in The New York Times for her, “gorgeously chesty ruminations.” Imani is a vocalist, composer, and eclectic interdisciplinary artist, who travels internationally from Morocco to Moscow creating concerts, experimental theater, performance art, and sound installations in venues/festivals including Joe's Pub, The Kitchen, Whitney Museum, Lincoln Center, Performa Biennial and MoMA. The Village Voice says, “With a voice that would sound equally at home on an opera stage or a disco 12-inch, Imani Uzuri is a constant surprise...seamlessly combining jazz, classical, country and blues motifs into highly personalized compositions.” Imani is currently composing a new musical, GIRL Shakes Lose Her Skin, inspired by the works of Sonia Sanchez. In March 2013, Uzuri premiered her first orchestral composition, Placeless, at Ecstatic Music Festival and was subsequently named by The New Yorker as one of the emerging “female composers edg[ing] forward”. Imani received her MFA with a special research focus on early American sacred music and has been an invited guest lecturer on Negro Spirituals at Harvard, Vassar, and Columbia University.
Invincible is a Detroit-based artist and activist whose spitfire wordplay has received acclaim from fans all across the world, while their active involvement in progressive social change has taken their music beyond entertainment toward actualizing the change they wish to see. As a co-founder of EMERGENCE Media, they released their debut album ShapeShifters (2008) and produced award-winning videos like The Revival (2009) about women in hiphop, and Locusts (2008) exploring displacement and gentrification in Detroit. In addition to their work as a performing artist, for the last decade Invincible has worked with Detroit Summer, a multi-racial, inter-generational collective in Detroit that is transforming communities through youth facilitative leadership, creativity and collective action. They were also the co-coordinator and co-founder of the Detroit Future Youth network to support social justice and media-based youth projects throughout the city. Invincible is currently working with renown producer Waajeed, multimedia artist and creative technologist Carlos Garcia, and visual artist Wesley Taylor, on Complex Movements, an interactive multimedia installation-based hip-hop collective exploring the relationship between complex sciences and social justice movements.
Germaine Ingram is a jazz tap dancer, composer/choreographer, and vocal improviser. Her work is a constant evolution of styles and traditions learned from legendary Philadelphia hoofer LaVaughn Robinson (1927-2008), her teacher, mentor, and performance partner for more than 25 years. Through choreography, performance, writing, production, oral history documentation, and designing and leading artist learning environments, she explores themes related to history, collective memory, and social justice. She was named a 2010 Pew Fellow in the Arts. Her projects have been funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Pennsylvania Council for the Humanities, Independence Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, and Lomax Family Foundation, among others. She received, among other awards, the Artist of the City Award from the Painted Bride Art Center; a Transformation Award (2008) and Art & Change Award (2012) from the Leeway Foundation; a Rocky Award (2011) from DanceUSA Philadelphia; and the Channavy Lenora Koung Award for Folk Arts & Cultural Heritage Practice (2012) from the Philadelphia Folklore Project. A former civil rights and trial lawyer, law professor, and school district executive officer, she serves on several boards of non-profit organizations dedicated to education reform, supporting arts and culture, and arts education. Jeff Chang is the author of the forthcoming book, Who We Be: The Colorization of America, and the American Book Award-winning Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. He serves at the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. He has been a co-founder of ColorLines, The Culture Group, and CultureStr/ke.
Jesus Barraza is an activist printmaker based in San Leandro, CA. Using bold colors and high contrast images, his prints reflect both his local and global community and their resistance in a struggle to create a new world. Jesus has worked closely with numerous community organizations to create prints that visualize struggles for immigration rights, housing, education, and international solidarity. Printmaking has allowed Jesus to produce relevant images that can be put back into the hands of his community and spread throughout the world. He believes that through this work, and the work of Dignidad Rebelde, he is playing a role in keeping the history of graphic art activism alive.
L.J. Roberts is a textile artist and writer living in Brooklyn. Their studio practice consists of large-scale knitted installations created with children’s toy knitting machines, jacquard weavings, and incredibly detailed embroideries. L.J’s work explores the intersections of feminism, queer and trans politics, activism, the on-going AIDS epidemic, community, and protest. Most recently their work was included in 40 Under 40: Craft Futures at The Renwick Gallery/Smithsonian American Art Museum and Not Over: 25 Years of Visual AIDS at La Mama Galleria in New York. Currently, L.J.’s work is on view in the exhibition Alien She at The Miller Gallery/Carnegie Mellon University, which will then travel to Vox Populi in Philadelphia, Yerba Buena Center for The Arts in San Francisco, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR. Their work will also be included in the forthcoming show Disob edient Ob jects at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2014. L.J.’s writing can be found in the anthology Extra/Ordinary: Craft Culture in Contemporary Art (Duke University Press) and they have a forthcoming essay in an anthology on Craftivism to be published by Arsenal Press in Spring 2014.
Marlène Ramírez-Cancio is an interdisciplinary artist from Puerto Rico who co-founded and co-directs Fulana, a Latina video collective, based in New York City. Using parody and satire as a critical tool, Fulana's mock television commercials, music videos, and print pieces respond to the ways ideologies and identities are marketed through the mass media. The collective’s works have been shown internationally at film festivals, museums, universities, and online at fulana.org. Marlène is also Associate Director, Arts & Media, at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, a transnational network of institutions, artists, scholars, and activists across the Americas. Housed at NYU, the Institute promotes interdisciplinary collaborations at the level of artistic practice and pedagogy, builds collections of artistic and academic materials for research across borders, and aims to train the next generation of performance-based political artists.
Melanie Cervantes aims to translate the hopes and dreams of justice movements into images that are life affirming and inspire people to take action. She is best known for her prolific production of political screen prints and posters. Employing vibrant colors and hand-drawn illustrations, her work moves those viewed as marginal to the center—featuring powerful youth, elders, women, queer, and indigenous peoples. With her partner and fellow printmaker Jesus Barraza, she formed Dignidad Reb elde, a collaborative graphic arts project. Dignidad Reb elde produces art intended to transform people's stories into a radical visual language, which is then returned to those who initially inspired it. Working primarily as poster artists, Dignidad Reb elde continues an important artistic tradition deeply rooted in popular social movements throughout the Americas.
Mia Nakano is a photographer, filmmaker, and media artist. She is a seasoned self-taught artist and educator who advocates the use of visual arts to create social change. Mia is the founding photo editor of Hyphen magazine, and an active board member of both the Queer Cultural Center, and the Oakland-based youth organization, Banteay Srei. She is the director of the Visibility Project, a photo and oral history collection dedicated to the Queer Asian American and Pacific Islander women and trans* communities. Mia’s photography has been featured in ColorLines Magazine, Kathmandu Post, and on Democracy Now!. Her artwork has been shown nationally from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Mia has contributed her visual arts, production, and curatorial skills to organizations such as the Smithsonian, Salon.com, de Young Museum, and National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance. Her work is simultaneously accessible and challenges multi-generational audiences from junior high students, university level faculty, grass-roots organizers, and social justice leaders.
Michelle Coffey designs, implements and furthers the strategic agenda, leadership and vision of Lambent Foundation, in her role as Executive Director. Through innovative grant making and projects, Lambent supports the intersections of contemporary arts and culture as critical strategies for social change. Lambent's global grant making provides critical general operating support for artist-centered organizations in the visual, performance, and alternative media fields in New York, New Orleans, and Nairobi.
Pepón Osorio is best known for his large-scale installations, often merging conceptual art and community dynamics, emphasizing the exhibition space as an intermediary between the social architecture of communities and the mainstream art world. He has worked with over 25 communities across the U.S. and internationally, creating installations based on real life experiences. For more than a decade Pepón has been presenting work in unconventional places prior to exhibiting in a museum setting, thus exploring the subjectivity of meaning in art and the multiple meanings that these installations achieve depending on their location. He is Carnell Professor in the Tyler School of the Arts at Temple University. His work has appeared throughout the United States, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Spain, South Africa, Cuba, and Brazil, in major museums, galleries, as well as storefronts, department stores and homes. Pepón is the recipient of numerous distinctions including Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (2001), Whitney Biennial (1993), Alpert Award in the Arts-Visual Arts (1999), and a John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation Fellowship (1999). He was most recently featured in the PBS documentary, Art21: Art in the Twenty First Century, and was awarded the 2008 Legacy Award from the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives.
The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry Slam is monthly event organized by Alyesha “Ms. Wise” Wise and Jacob Winterstein. The Pigeon was voted “Best of Philly” for Literary Activity in 2012, by Philadelphia Magazine and awarded the Philadelphia Knight Arts Challenge Grant in 2013. It is held on first Fridays from October to May at Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA). Their goal is to create a slam that improves the writing and performance of poets in Philadelphia and to entertain the heck out of a really big audience. Jacob is a poet, performer and host. Alyesha is an international poet and teaching artist born in Camden. October’s guest feature is Franny Choi. Franny is a Korean-American poet, playwright, and fiction writer. A Puschart Prize nominee and award-winning performer, her work has appeared in Fringe, Angry Asian Man, Apogee, Tandem, Issues, among other publications. Her play, Mask Dances, was staged at Rites and Reason Theatre in Providence, RI. Her first full-length collection of poems is forthcoming on Write Bloody Publishing.
Ryann Makenzi Holmes is a black feminist, and self-identified boi. Born in the Washington, DC, and raised in nearby Prince Georges County, Maryland, she’s called Brooklyn home for the last decade. In 2009, she founded the bklyn boihood and she is currently the Director of Community Programming at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), in Brooklyn. She received her undergraduate education at George Mason University and her MBA from Baruch College’s Entrepreneurship program in 2011. Ryann has been featured in numerous publications, including being named one of Go Magazine's “Top 100 Women We Love,” and ranked among Velvet Park's “Top 25 Significant Queer Women of the Year.”
Roberto Bedoya is the Executive Director of the Tucson Pima Arts Council in Tucson, Arizona. He is also a writer and arts consultant. As an arts consultant he has worked on “Creative Capital’s State Research Project” (Creative Capital & Arizona Commission on the Arts), “Mapping Native American Cultural Policy” (Ford Foundation), “Creative Practice in the 21st Century” (Ford Foundation & Rockefeller Foundation), and “Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structure for US Artists and the Arts and Culture Indicators in Community Building Project” (Urban Institute). His poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications including The New Gatekeepers: Emerging Challenges to Free Expression in the Arts (Columbia University Press), CMYK, the Hungry Mind Review, Los Angeles Times, EOAGH: A Journal of the Art, Grantmakers in the Arts Reader, and Movement Research Performance Journal. He is the author of “The Color Line and US Cultural Policy: An Essay with Dialogue,” and “Creative Placemaking and the Politics of Belonging and Dis-Belonging.” Roberto serves on the board of the National Association of Media Arts and Culture and has been a Rockefeller Fellow at NYU and a visiting scholar at Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.
Roya Rastegar is a scholar, artist, and curator living between Philadelphia and Los Angeles. She has served as the co-director of the Santa Cruz Women of Color Film & Video Festival, worked at Sundance, Tribeca, and the L.A. Film Festivals, and held a curatorial fellowship at the Whitney Museum ISP. She recently received a Creative Capital grant in the Emerging Fields, and is the co-writer of Wildness (2012), which premiered at MoMA's Doc Fortnight Film Festival and won a Grand Jury Prize at Outfest. Her articles on film culture have appeared in The Nation, The Huffington Post, ColorLines Magazine, and The Feminist Wire. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow and visiting professor at Bryn Mawr College.
Shelley Spector is an artist, curator and teacher. Her multidisciplinary works that explore common themes like money, relationships, tools of measurement, and the environment, are part of many private and public collections. She founded SPECTOR Gallery/Projects in 1999, working to champion emerging talent and new concepts. An offshoot of the program is Artjaw.com, an online anthology of first person stories from the Philadelphia art community.
Yaba Blay is a researcher and scholar of Africana Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies. She received a BA in Psychology from Salisbury State University, a M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology from the University of New Orleans, an M.A. and Ph.D. in African American Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from Temple University. Among her many publications, Yaba’s ethnographic case study entitled “Pretty Color and Good Hair: Creole Women of New Orleans and the Politics of Identity,” is featured in the anthology Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities (Hampton Press, 2011). She is currently editing her first book-length manuscript, Yellow Fever: Skin Bleaching and the Politics of Skin Color, which investigates the social practice of skin bleaching in Ghana. Yaba is the recipient of a 2010 Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant, through which she embarked upon (1)ne Drop: Conversations on Skin Color, Race, and Identity, a portrait documentary exploring the intersection of skin color politics and negotiations of Black identity.