2023 Grantees

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How I Found My Feet Again

by Keyierra Collins (she/her)

How I Found My Feet Again is a ritualistic activation for self-care, self-alignment, and peace. The piece is an exploration of Collins’s re-discovery of herself as a dancer and performing artist through the lens of her mental health practice. Collins utilizes video, projection, costuming, and performance installations to create a more nuanced experience. As someone who is interested in how dance and movement can contribute to the healing of trauma, particularly the trauma experienced by Black women and girls, How I Found My Feet Again acts as her continual commitment to advocating for her mental health and inner peace. Inside Collins’s dance practice, she focuses on Afro Diasporic dance techniques to seek out lost knowledge and history that has been stripped from her by the effects of the slave trade and colonization. By training in these forms, she gains knowledge that allows her to unpack her trauma and further help to understand her specific experiences as a Black woman.

The desire to create How I Found My Feet Again first came about in 2021 after almost 2 years of living in the pandemic and the 2020 protests following the murders of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Absorbing how these experiences were specifically affecting the Black community, and with not having a continuous dance practice, Collins felt rage, fear, and desperation. She had no sense of safety, not even in her own body. When she began to re-establish a movement practice, she also enrolled in therapy. Collins found this work to not only be about her re-discovery as a movement artist but also a beneficial process for her mental health practice.

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La Sala

by Silvia Inés Gonzalez (she/her)

La Sala invites artists, cultural workers, and civically minded people to discuss liberation, education, and organizing, community, and practices toward healing from the perspective of artists’ and their artistic process. The series includes a range of 15-20 artists in Chicago who will reflect on their practices within the context of our city's local history and contemporary approach to the arts. It includes a series of radio conversations, archival publications, and public-facing programming. The podcast component will be partially hosted by Lumpen Radio as well as an additional MixCloud/Soundcloud space so folks can access the conversations after their designated airtime.

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Cultivating Community

by Eric Hotchkiss (he/him)

Cultivating Community aims to activate a vacant lot in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood by turning it into an outdoor kitchen and restaurant. The project encourages open dialogue, cultural exchange, and community engagement through cooking demonstrations and communal meals. Emphasizing sustainable practices, it showcases culturally relevant food from the African diaspora, fostering appreciation, understanding, and a strong sense of belonging within the neighborhood.

The transformed lot represents revitalization and community empowerment. Professional chefs play a central role, showcasing the rich culinary heritage of the African diaspora using culturally specific communal cooking techniques like barrel grills, smoking, and pits. Their cooking demonstrations celebrate the food's intricate techniques, unique flavors, and historical significance, creating opportunities for cultural exchange and deeper understanding.

Communal meals lie at the heart of the project, where residents gather around shared tables to enjoy culturally relevant dishes that reflect the vibrant flavors and traditions of the African diaspora. These meals foster connections and conversations beyond cultural boundaries, nurturing unity, and a sense of belonging in the community.

Cultivating Community will serve as a powerful platform for celebrating the diverse tapestry of Englewood, cultivating pride, and fostering connection among its residents. Through the transformative power of food, the project becomes a symbol of unity, inviting everyone to partake in a shared culinary experience rooted in the African diaspora.

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Chroma Key After Me

by Ariella Granados (she/they)

Chroma Key After Me is a body of work that is imagining a disabled utopia. Through the creation of soundscapes, sculpture, and video I explore themes of identity centered around family history, socioeconomic status, and disability in relation to utopia. In this project, I will create miniature ceramic dioramas that are referencing places of childhood reconstructed from memory. These ceramics will then serve as stages or backdrops to green screen myself into.

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Made in Taiwan

by Cathy Hsiao and Nestor Siré (she/her), (he/him)

Made in Taiwan is a new series and body of work at the intersection of new media technologies, craft, and industry by the Taiwanese-Chinese-American and Cuban artists Cathy Hsiao and Nestor Siré. Starting from the perspectives of Taiwan and Cuba as particularly contested sites of technological production and access, the artists document, archive, invite, and imagine alternative, democratic models of technology as a public domain. Based on open-source economies and community-led, often vernacular, approaches to sustainability, Made in Taiwan addresses the digital divide between North and South in order to connect these technological diasporas with local communities in Chicago and beyond.

Operating as a series of artistic interventions, collaborative projects, and digital brand, the artists propose socio-cultural, formal, and material translations of various forms of digital resistance and creativity throughout the Chinese diaspora and Cuba. The first, “Absurd Accessories” is both an alternative and participatory serial production line and a document of artificial intelligence technologies at a certain moment in our collective history. Starting from speculative AI designs of ‘absurd’ iPhone accessories, Chicago communities are connected with open-source networks in Havana, Cuba, as well as the global RepRap and Precious Plastic communities to create 3D-printed prototypes as artworks and molds for porcelain.

A line of functional, cast porcelain speaker sculptures will be created as an extension of the collaboration using scaled up designs of select ‘absurd sound devices.’ The sculptures will produce a multi-channel audio installation accessible to the public via Bluetooth devices with software developed for this purpose and activated by anyone with access to cell phones with wireless functionality.

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Send Them Their Flowers

by Hai-Wen Lin and Vince Phan (they/them), (he/him/his)

Send Them Their Flowers is a gathering that celebrates queer diasporas and lives within the great expanse of the sky. Existing at the intersection of public art, sculpture, and fashion installation, a small collection of kites will be designed using clothing patterns made to fit trans and nonbinary Chicagoans as a means of liberating the body. Within Chinese culture, kite flying has historically been used for many purposes such as sending messages of love to the deceased and wishing for an abundant harvest. Send Them Their Flowers is a project seated between these actions: a reverence for our ancestors and a desire for bountiful futures. A series of smaller kites will be developed for the greater public to join in flying, playing, and wish-casting. Together amongst the clouds, we’ll fly a bouquet of hope, of solidarity, of joy, for those who feel marginalized and caught between identities. This is a moment where queer people, both living and passed, hidden within the histories and margins of various diasporas, can be given their flowers. Here, the sky becomes a space of boundless possibility and radical regathering. Let’s find each other up there.

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Piñata Pollination

by Marimacha Monarca Press

Piñata Pollination is a popup art-making series centering queerness & migration, grief & relief, and death & rebirth, engaging the outdoors as a community art studio. We offer seed-papermaking, piñata-making, and printmaking workshops to connect our collective histories to our environment. Focusing on the space between monarch butterflies laying eggs to a monarch queersalis rebirth, Piñata Pollination focuses on the queer space of existing as a monarch queerpillar while being rooted in communal creation/destruction and guerrilla gardening a seed-paper-monarch-caterpillar-piñata

After the butterfly lays its eggs throughout milkweed, the caterpillar grows inside the egg waiting for the right conditions to hatch. As the caterpillar hatches, we share a seed-papermaking and seed bomb-making workshop based on native pollinator seeds, flowers, and grasses around us, while storytelling around our queer remedies that ground us.

Once the caterpillar is ready, it hatches and eats, and eats, and eats milkweed. In similar ways, we draw connections to how we nourish each other via self and communal care as we share a piñata-making workshop where we use the seed paper made from the previous workshop to create a seed paper-piñata in the form of a monarch caterpillar. We will invite folks to create messages and symbols through printmaking and watercolor on seed paper that reflect on communal grief, pleasure, death, and rebirth. The seed paper messages, prints, and seed bombs will fill the inside of the monarch-queerpillar-seedpaper-piñata.

After the caterpillar grows full, it gets ready to transform. As it begins the transformation, the caterpillar hangs upside down in a “J” shape and stops eating. Here, we honor and celebrate the creation of our community made and filled seed-paper-piñata-monarch-queerpillar. Just as the caterpillar is "J-ing" and self-destructs into chrysalis, we break the piñata and all the seeds will be buried into the earth - reborn with our queerstories.

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Joy Ride: An Odyssey in Black

by Cecil McDonald, Jr. (he/him)

Joy Ride: An Odyssey in Black is inspired by West African traditions regarding music and dance as ceremonial, healing, and spiritually uplifting practices. For this project, McDonald will collaborate with a Senegalese master drummer and a sound artist/DJ (who he considers a conjure/shaman) on a custom-designed rickshaw, riding it through the Bronzeville community during the summer months of 2024. They will walk, ride, and play as they make their way to significant spaces of nightlife, religious, and creative culture in this storied neighborhood of Chicago. The public will be invited to proceed with them as they make their way.

Of late, McDonald has begun to think of his role as an artist and healer. In the past, he made objects and photographs that he believed had the potential to inspire awe or admiration – a much more inward-thinking approach. Now he is more interested in how art can make our lives better and heal people who have been oppressed, marginalized, and forgotten. McDonald creates from an outer, public-facing point of view. He aims to pull back the curtain on the artist's process and practice so the public can know what artistic labor looks like. He wants to return in a highly interactive, public, and performative manner to remind the community of his practice and to enhance their lives with music performance.

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Macro, Micro: Altgeld Gardens

by Nathan Miller (he/him)

Macro, Micro: Altgeld Gardens documents the landscape and community of the far Southside Chicago public housing project of Altgeld Gardens. Originally constructed in 1945 to house African American veterans returning from World War II, Altgeld is surrounded by a waste and water treatment facility, a busy expressway, a landfill, and industrial buildings, all of which contribute to its long battle with environmental and economic justice. Using aerial drone photography and large-format portraiture, his work will reveal the scale and contributors of air pollution contrasted with the stories and likenesses of the people most directly affected by it. The project will culminate in an exhibition, community talk, and zine which will operate as long-term catalysts for action-based dialogue around environmental justice and community reinvestment.

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Ten Love Poems

by Bun Stout (they/them)

Ten Love Poems is a mixed-reality fashion collection presented as a multimedia runway involving drag performance, poetry, and live augmented reality. The collection of multi-person garments explores chosen family relationships, inspired by Chicago’s radical trans art scene, and its complex web of romantic, friendly, sexual, and kin-like connections within a community where self-creation is a survival art practice and relationship norms are intentionally subverted or experimented with. Each costume is designed for a specific community member, in a worldbuilding effort where we collaborate to realize a mythical version of their public persona through wearables and imagery.

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Memoryscape Series

by Euree Kim (they/them)

Memoryscapes Series is a transnational, multimedia/disciplinary project about militarism, disability experience, and remembrance. Originating from “Hileah,” which means “beautiful prairie” in Muskogee language and was used to name one of the American military bases in South Korea as well as a city in Florida, it meditates the simultaneous process of translation, reproduction, replication, and disruption of war memories and disability representation. This multi-year, collaborative project will include writings, installations, video, zines, as well as community engagements, interrogating the complex relationships between disability and militarism and how memories can activate space for healing and solidarity across borders, languages, and nationalities.

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Reflections of a Fleeting Utopia

by Yiwei Wang (he/they)

Reflections of a Fleeting Utopia is a multi-faceted exploration of the complexities and contradictions inherent in clubbing culture. This project seeks to bridge the gap between visual arts and experiential performance, creating a dialogue about the dual nature of nightlife as both a refuge from, and a cage within, societal norms. The project will use a variety of materials (synthetic fabrics, bright colors, and ready-made items) to create a series of installations that reflect the visual language of the millennial generation. These will be immersive environments that encapsulate the vibrant, yet transient, atmosphere of a nightclub, while simultaneously celebrating and critiquing the ephemeral utopia it represents. It may even happen in a real party venue, to play with the boundary of artificial clubbing art installation and party scene. By challenging preconceptions and stereotypes, the installations aim to stimulate conversations about individuality and identity in the context of nightlife. They will reflect on the personas we adopt in these spaces and the freedom and confinement they offer. The project also plans to address issues of consumerism and hedonism in contemporary society, reflecting my cross-cultural experiences and the influence of the pervasive capitalistic system. Reflections of a Fleeting Utopia intends to offer a unique and engaging exploration of the social, cultural, and psychological aspects of clubbing culture. This ambitious initiative hopes to make a valuable contribution to the visual arts, reflecting the multi-sensory and dichotomous nature of the clubbing experience.

meet the 2023 jury

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