welcome

Meet the 2021 USA Fellows—the storytellers, shapemakers, movement builders, and culture bearers practicing today.

Our Fellowships are $50,000 unrestricted awards that recognize artists for their contributions to the field and allow them to decide how to best support their lives. This year, we are grateful to present 60 incredible practitioners, spanning every career stage and hailing from 22 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To date, through our Fellowship program, we have awarded over $33 million to more than 700 artists!

 

2021 USA Fellows Geographic Overview

The 2021 USA Fellowships were generously made possible by:

At a moment of constant change, artists continue to inspire curiosity, empathy, and action toward building a more honest and just world. The 2021 USA Fellows were chosen for their bold artistic vision and significant impact. Each artist demonstrates generosity and care toward field-building that continues to inspire and propel their discipline.

These artists break disciplinary boundaries to challenge the status quo. Some are shapemakers—trailblazers and innovators who invite us to stretch our imaginations and see new possibilities in materials, form, and process. Others are storytellers who center that which has been forgotten, misrepresented, or untold by others. There are the culture bearers who recognize the importance of retaining ancestral knowledge and passing down their heritage to future generations. And, the movement builders who work in partnership with others to redefine community engagement, kinship, and activism. This cohort shows us that art-making of all kinds and their cross-pollination is critical to moving our culture forward.

Each artist generously shared how they are navigating the present moment and if they had insights to share with other makers. Click on their portraits below or download this PDF to read what they had to say.

Architecture & Design

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ID: Jennifer, a woman with blonde hair, stands with arms crossed wearing lemon-yellow glasses and a fake tuxedo shirt.

Jennifer Bonner / MALL

Architect
Portland, OR

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ID: Walter smiles as he sits in a chair surrounded by concrete walls.

Walter Hood

Landscape and Public Artist
Oakland, CA

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ID: Olalekan is seated against a dark chalkboard background with his hands clasped together in his lap. He is wearing a black t-shirt and dark blue jeans.

Olalekan Jeyifous

Speculative Architect and Public Artist
Brooklyn, NY

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Note: Panelists’ titles and organizations are reflective of their affiliation during the jury period in 2020.

Architecture & Design Panelists

Thomas Kelley
Architect
2018 USA Fellow
Chicago, IL

Amanda Williams
Public Artist
2018 USA Fellow
Chicago, IL

Mimi Zeiger
Critic and Curator
Los Angeles, CA

Craft

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ID: Diedrick, a young Black man, tilts his head gently to one side and gazes at the camera. His face is half-immersed in shadow.

Diedrick Brackens

Weaver
Los Angeles, CA

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ID: Bisa, an African American woman with long cascading locs, dark lipstick, and a bright printed dress, stands in front of her quilt with an equally colorful portrait of an African woman with short, parted hair, hoop earrings, and a halter made of cowrie shells.

Bisa Butler

Portrait Quilter
West Orange, NJ

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ID: Amber, a woman with long light brown hair, looks at the camera in front of white background. She is wearing a bright red sweater and blue shirt with white polka dots.

Amber Cowan

Glass Artist
Philadelphia, PA

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ID: Salvador, a Latinx man with dark wavy hair and a black mustache, stands against a green bush. He is wearing a mariachi suit without the hat.

Salvador Jiménez-Flores

Interdisciplinary Artist and Ceramicist
Chicago, IL

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ID: Cannupa, an Indigenous person of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota heritage with brown hair, brown eyes, and a mustache, stands in their studio in front of two life-sized buffalo figures wearing regalia made of crochet, felt, ceramic, and steel. Cannupa is wearing a red and grey crochet cape with knife-shaped turquoise earrings.

Cannupa Hanska Luger

Multidisciplinary Artist and Futurist
Glorieta, NM

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ID: Tiff, a young Black woman, is heavily adorned by the jewelry she created and rocking a du-rag, gold beads, and a floral dress. She holds her glasses as she gazes into the camera.

Tiff Massey

Interdisciplinary Artist
Detroit, MI

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ID: Erin, a 35-year-old with pale skin, freckles, green eyes, and dark brown hair, looks into the camera in natural light.

Erin M. Riley

Tapestry Weaver
Brooklyn, NY

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Craft Panelists

Fabio J. Fernández
Adjunct Professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Boston, MA

Mia Hall
Executive Director at Penland School of Craft
Asheville, NC

Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy
Assistant Curator at the Museum of Arts & Design
New York, NY

shapemakers

These shapemakers operate at various scales, from the handheld to the house-sized, but at their core is an unparalleled attentiveness to transformation. See how some of these sculptors, dancers, and designers connected with themselves and their communities during this pandemic.

JanpiStar, 2019. Photoshoot for AXIS Dance Company. Photo by David DeSilva.

Doing breathing exercises and practicing yoga are two activities that have helped me a lot this year to connect back to myself and my practice as a dancer.

JanpiStar
Dancer and Drag Queen

[ID: JanpiStar, a Puerto Rican wheelchair user, springs from their chair, supporting themselves with their lower limbs and their upper limbs open like wings. They wear a red long sleeve shirt, long black pants, and printed sneakers.]

Vencedor #2 (1797), 2020. Wood, ropes, steel, textiles, found objects, objects created by the artist, dimensions 70 × 70 × 33 inches. Photo by Raquel Pérez Puig.

In this contemporary pandemic scenario, drawing is a strong medium of expression. It helps to provide a space for personal healing where we might, through the creation of symbolic images, exorcise our fears and anxieties, or chant to the human spirit of solidarity that has always prevailed in catastrophic times, in the history of humanity.

Daniel Lind-Ramos
Assemblage Sculptor and Painter

[ID: An assemblage of found objects in a triangular composition with a spindly stool at its base. Objects include a number of straight and curved rods, ropes, bags, and a black boot.]

Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies, 2020. Aluminum, ground mural, dimensions 10 × 52 × 100 feet. Photo by Laura Hatcher.

I like to walk around my neighborhood of Crown Heights and the bordering Bed-Stuy and Fort Greene neighborhoods, taking photos of empty lots, alleyways, and rooftops. I then create photo-montages of a speculative Brooklyn Afro/Eco/Agro Futurist world.”

Olalekan Jeyifous
Speculative Architect and Public Artist

[ID: A ground mural features historic icons interspersed throughout abstracted “quilt blocks’. Four ornate metal profiles in the tradition of wrought iron gates rise up from the ground mural and are surrounded by sculptural seating platforms.]

Dance of the Pacific Coast Highway at Sunset, 2020. Glass and mixed media, dimensions 34 × 46 × 12.5 inches. Photo by Constance Mensh.

Artists have a special dexterity for adapting to change, and the emergence of virtual artists talks, panels, and studio visits has united the arts community through this pandemic. It has kept me learning, connected, and entertained throughout the past year. I have been able to share my studio and process to an unexpected new audience and really enjoyed getting a glimpse into other artists’ worlds.

Amber Cowan
Glass Artist

[ID: A rectangular-shaped wall sculpture made of all pink glass, resembling a ballet stage with curtains. Two pink ballerinas stand in front of a sunset, ocean, and mountain. On their right is a fish and on the left is a small pitcher painted with flowers.]

Dance

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Ishmael, a Black man with a gray goatee and wearing a lavender bandana on his head, smiles warmly.

Ishmael Houston-Jones

Choreographer, Author, Curator, and Educator
New York, NY

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JanpiStar, a wheelchair user with light brown skin, close-cut dark hair, and an athletic build, smiles and poses with their right upper limb in front of their chest, hand flexed. They wear neon green gauge earrings, a coral tank top, and green leggings.

JanpiStar

Dancer and Drag Queen
Oakland, CA

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Emily, a Yup’ik woman with long dark hair, wears a black v-neck shirt and pointed earrings against a dark background.

Emily Johnson

Choreographer and Body-Based Artist
New York, NY

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Cynthia stands in profile extending an arm behind her. She is wearing a long, flower-printed dress.

Cynthia Oliver

Choreographer and Performer
Urbana, IL

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Ni’Ja a stylish Nonbinary Trans person with long locs draped over their left shoulder, stands in front of a window overlooking greenery and trees. In a dark sweatshirt and gray infinity scarf, they look directly at the camera.

Ni'Ja Whitson

Multidisciplinary Artist, Performer, and Writer
Los Angeles, CA

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Dance Panelists

Lili Chopra
Executive Director of Artistic Programs at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
New York, NY

d. Sabela grimes
Dancer and Choreographer
2014 USA Fellow
Los Angeles, CA

Tara Aisha Willis
Associate Curator of Performance & Public Practice at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Chicago, IL

Film

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Faren, a Black person adorned with a floral headscarf, looks intently at the camera while standing amongst a public square at dusk; polychromatic lens flares abound.

Faren Humes

Filmmaker
Miami, FL

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Macha Colón, a light-skinned Afro Puerto Rican with purple dyed curly hair, smiles at the camera. She stands at the beach with the ocean behind her.

Macha Colón

Undisciplined Creator
San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Stephen, an Asian-American man with shoulder-length black hair, glasses, and a dark shirt, looks into the camera.

Stephen Maing

Documentary Filmmaker
New York, NY

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Darius, a Black man with cropped hair, wearing a blue-jean shirt, stands contemplatively upon a balcony in profile surrounded by plush green trees, looking out into the distance.

Darius Clark Monroe

Filmmaker
Brooklyn, NY

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Naima poses for a self-portrait with a direct gaze, camera in hand, and wearing an olive green collared shirt.

Naima Ramos-Chapman

Filmmaker
Brooklyn, NY

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Jennifer, a woman with pale skin, long dark hair, and bangs, sits at the bottom of a narrow red staircase. Her hair blows around from an unseen source. She is looking at the camera with green, red, and blue lights speckled across her face and torso. She is wearing a black jacket and no less than five necklaces.

Jennifer Reeder

Filmmaker
Chicago, IL and Hammond, IN

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Film Panelists

Shari Frilot
Chief Curator of New Frontier at Sundance Institute
Los Angeles, CA

Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Documentary Filmmaker
2018 USA Fellow
Charleston, WV

Bryce Norbitz
Director of Scripted Programming at Tribeca Film Institute
New York, NY

storytellers

This year’s storytellers narrate across many mediums—sound, thread, bodies—to present compelling portraits of nuance and potential. Learn about how these quilters, performers, and poets approach their creative processes and self-care strategies, helping us see ourselves and each other more clearly.

On the set of Blood Below the Skin, 2015. Photo by Maria Alejos.

My “studio” is the window-facing end of the long farm table in the middle room of the house I share with my three young children, two cats, one cattle dog and a forty-year-old box tortoise. I think best at home, I write best at home, I map out the path to the next film best at home. It’s not quaint or quiet here. This house is loved and lived in. I am inspired by the chaos.

Jennifer Reeder
Filmmaker

[ID: A slightly blurry black and white photograph of a pale woman with long dark hair wearing a black bra and underwear. Perched on her hip is a two year old child wearing only a diaper. The woman is thirty-eight weeks pregnant.]

Photo by Peter Bienkowski.

If the process is not fruitful for you, if the work itself is not coming, give yourself permission to step away and immerse yourself deeper into your world. Living in deep awareness and attention to your world, your life, the people around you, all this is part of the work–perhaps even more substantial, though unquantifiable, than the work itself.

Ocean Vuong
Poet and Writer

[ID: Ocean, a Vietnamese-American man in a broad hat, sits writing at a desk.]

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Making art has sustained and nourished me while cocooning at home and not being able to see my beloved grandchildren. Whereas, I cannot see them, I decided to use their images in a new series of quilts. The work makes me feel closer to them.

Carolyn L. Mazloomi
Quilter

[ID: A quilt depicting the artist’s two grandchildren in a park-like setting while it rains. They stand next to each other in complimentary black and white outfits, backpacks, and bright yellow boots. One holds an umbrella over them both.]

Photo courtesy of the artist.

I have been walking and hiking for multiple miles most days to move beyond the insides of the inside, the four walls of my home. I have been taking myself on long wanderings looking for the quiet noise or to see something strange. When I am the most present, I feel time. When I am the most blessed, I hear a hawk cry.

Ni’Ja Whitson
Multidisciplinary Artist, Performer, and Writer

[ID: A landscape of a sunlit, golden-hued field and lush mountains against a bright blue, nearly cloudless sky. Buildings line the hillside and valley in the far distance.]

Media

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ID: Morehshin, a young Iranian woman with straight dark hair, sits on a staircase. She is wearing a black leather dress with silver and black earrings.

Morehshin Allahyari

Media Artist, Activist, and Writer
Brooklyn, NY

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ID: Stephanie, a black woman of medium brown complexion, smiles broadly. She has shoulder length dark brown locks and wears a sheer pale blue shirt with flowers.

Stephanie Dinkins

New Media Artist
Brooklyn, NY

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ID: Lauren, a Chinese-American woman with short dark hair and a black collared shirt, smiles at the camera.

Lauren Lee McCarthy

Performance Artist
Los Angeles, CA

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ID: Mother Cyborg, a young Latin woman with shoulder-length black hair, poses in front of a colorful street wall in cyborg-like white shades, a black sleeveless T-shirt, and neon colored printed arm bands.

Mother Cyborg

Multimedia Artist, Educator, and Organizer
Detroit, MI

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Media Panelists

Carmen Aguilar y Wedge
Creative Director and Designer at Hyphen-Labs
2019 USA Fellow
London, UK

Salome Asega
Artist and Researcher
New York, NY

Zachary Kaplan
Executive Director at Rhizome
New York, NY

Music

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ID: Martha poses in front of a lime green wall in a long white dress, caramel blazer, cat eye glasses, and jewelry. She is a Chicana woman with tan skin, short black hair, and a warm smile.

Martha Gonzalez

Chicana Musician and Artivista
Los Angeles, CA

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ID: Edward “Kidd,” a Black man with gray hair, a printed t-shirt, jeans, and his glasses low on his nose, sits holding his saxophone.

Edward "Kidd" Jordan

Jazz Musician, Saxophonist, and Educator
New Orleans, LA

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ID: Tomeka, wearing a dark blue turtleneck and skirt, smiles warmly while posing with a cello outside during the fall.

Tomeka Reid

Cellist, Composer, Bandleader, and Organizer
Chicago, IL

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ID: Wadada, wearing a black shirt and slacks, is seated while holding a trumpet. In the background, just out of focus, a portrait of Louis Armstrong hangs on the wall.

Wadada Leo Smith

Creative Composer and Trumpeter
New Haven, CT

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ID: Mazz, a chocolate-complexioned woman stares defiantly into the camera as she holds an acoustic violin in one hand, drawn back as if to shoot it like an arrow, and an electric violin in her front hand, aimed directly at the camera, like a bow.

Mazz Swift

Violinist, Composer, and Conductor
Brooklyn, NY

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Music Panelists

Kate Dumbleton
Executive and Artistic Director at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival and Associate Professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, IL

David Lang
Composer
2015 USA Fellow
New York, NY

Lourdes Pérez
Singer-Songwriter
2006 USA Fellow
San Antonio, TX and Moca, Puerto Rico

culture bearers

We honor the culture bearers who celebrate their communities’ values and teach us how to cultivate our histories with care. Hear about the people and places that hold special meaning for these songwriters and traditional artists.

Photo by Hall Anderson.

Saxman Native Village is special for me as it has been a main place for me to carve for the past thirty five years, doing projects for the Totem Park there and the Tribal House. It’s been special since they have tours every summer, and I have been able to share my culture with visitors from all over the US and even worldwide. This year was very different as there were no tours whatsoever, too quiet.

Nathan P Jackson
Traditional Woodcarver

[ID: Nathan, wearing a red anorak, green pants, and a Holly Churchill cedar bark hat, sits next to his sculpture Thundering Wings in downtown Ketchikan, Alaska, in the very spot where he watches its annual 4th of July parade. ]

Dr. Martha Gonzalez presents CSP Lecture, 2016. Photo by Marc Campos, Occidental College Photographer.

A person’s ‘testimonio,’ life views, triumphs, aphorisms, and struggles can be expressed in song lyrics. When practiced in community, songwriting can be a powerful exercise in consensus building and collective knowledge production. The pandemic has made me revisit this process via Zoom meetings. It has been fun, rewarding, and keeps me connected to my students and community.

Martha Gonzalez
Chicana Musician and Artivista

[ID: Martha holds a mic and sings joyfully while three other musicians play various string instruments behind her.]

Photo courtesy of the artist.

During this pandemic, I have found myself back at my beginnings as an artist, working with what I have available to me at home. Over the years, I have collected many found objects and handmade items that I cannot part with. Many have ended up as part of small vignettes or assemblages in my garden, where I spend most of my time. I find this activity to be essential to one’s own creativity and sustainability.

Ofelia Esparza
Altarista (Altar-maker)

[ID: A vibrant arrangement of candles, flowers, fruit, and handmade objects in Ofelia’s garden.]

Theater & Performance

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ID: Jibz, a middle aged queer white woman with brown hair and glasses, wearing a powder blue sweatshirt by the artist Pippa that says “Bad in Bed.”

Jibz Cameron

Performer
Los Angeles, CA

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ID: Alina, an older woman with short hair, smiles. She is wearing a shiny blue jacket and small silver hoop earrings.

Carmelita Tropicana

Playwright and Performer
New York, NY

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ID: Christopher, a playwright, gazes off-camera outside in New York during Play Company’s production of CAUGHT.

Christopher Chen

Playwright
San Francisco, CA

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ID: Sandra, a woman in her forties with olive skin, dark brown curly hair, and light brown eyes, clasps her hands near her face and smiles at the camera.

Sandra Delgado

Playwright and Actor
Chicago, IL

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ID: Idris, a Black man with a beard, smiles broadly with teeth and everything. He is wearing a black collared shirt.

Idris Goodwin

Breakbeat Poet and Playwright
Colorado Springs, CO

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ID: Mia, an Asian American with short black hair, is wearing a black scoop-necked shirt against a light background. She stands with her arms crossed in front of her.

Mia Katigbak

Actor-Manager
New York, NY

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ID: Karen, a Latina woman of Mexican descent with shoulder-length blonde and brown hair and wearing earrings, a necklace, and burgundy sweater, smiles at the camera.

Karen Zacarías

Playwright and Activist
Washington, DC

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Theater & Performance Panelists

Hayley Finn
Associate Artistic Director at the Playwrights’ Center
Minneapolis, MN

Malik Gaines
Performance Artist
2018 USA Fellow
New York, NY

Jocelyn Prince
Lecturer in Theater and Performance Studies at Northwestern University
Chicago, IL

Traditional Arts

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ID: Ofelia, a Chicana elder woman with her white hair tied back with colorful Guatemalan textile headband, dons beaded huichol flower earrings, a black-corded medicine bag hanging from her neck, and a hand-loomed strap from a shoulder bag crosses her chest. She wears a black huipil with hand embroidered white flowers and olive green embroidered leaves. She looks up as she smiles, set in front of an out-of-focus hedge at Grand Park in Los Angeles Civic Center.

Ofelia Esparza

Altarista (Altar-maker)
East Los Angeles, CA

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ID: Nathan, a Tlingit man with tan skin and white hair, smiles warmly.

Nathan P Jackson

Traditional Woodcarver and Sculptor
Ketchikan, AK

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ID: Basil, an African American, is pictured from the waist up, smiling, standing in front of one of Basil’s quilt works, which hangs on the wall behind the artist. The hanging work is a myriad of colors. Basil is also wearing a quilt, another one of Basil’s works, which is draped over Basil’s body exposing one of Basil’s shoulders.

Basil Kincaid

Quilter, Ritualist, and Healer
St. Louis, MO

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ID: Kawika stands against the Ewa/Waipio plains on Oʻahu. He is wearing a ʻIʻiwi aloha shirt and dark glasses.

Kawika Lum-Nelmida

Hawaiian Feather Artist
Honolulu, HI

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ID: Carolyn, an African American woman with short natural hair, wears a purple shawl, turquoise rings, and smiles at the camera.

Carolyn L. Mazloomi

Quilter
West Chester, OH

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ID: Geo, a light-skinned indigenous person, looks into the camera. Traditional markings are tattooed on their forehead and chin, and their shaved head is adorned with feathers. They have a light beard and dramatic makeup, and are wearing earrings made from tusk shells and porcupine quills. Their clothing is decorated in a tusk shell butterfly pattern.

Geo Soctomah Neptune

Basketry Artist and Performer
Motahkomikuk, ME

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ID: Delina, a woman with short hair and pink lipstick, smiles slightly. She is wearing a purple turtleneck, dangling earrings, and a pendant necklace.

Delina White

Native American Fashion Designer, Jewelry Maker, and Beadwork Artist
Walker, MN

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Traditional Arts Panelists

Francene Blythe
Director of Programs at the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation
Vancouver, WA

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko
Director at the Illinois State Museum
Springfield, IL

Leia Maahs
Managing Director at the Southwest Folklife Alliance
Tucson, AZ

movement builders

In sharing their understanding of the relationship between place and power, these movement builders carve out spaceliterally and figurativelyfor others to bring about civic change. Gain some insight into what these multidisciplinary organizers and activists have found comfort in while staying at home. 

Photo courtesy of the artist.

As an artist, mother, and teacher, I’ve been thinking about the ways that womyn in my life are constantly creating and how making is embodied in all facets of our lives. The process of art making is not exclusive to the production of art objects. What has been explicit to me during this pandemic time is that caring for my elders, drawing with my child, or teaching young artists includes boundless acts of creativity.

Maria Gaspar
Interdisciplinary Artist

[ID: A toddler draws on the black walls of his mother’s studio (Maria Gaspar) while she works in the studio during the fall of 2020 and at the height of COVID in Chicago. Toddler wears an animal print long sleeve shirt with seals, blue pants, and blue and yellow sneakers.] 

Photo by Eyebeam NYC; courtesy of the artist and Eyebeam.

My mother finally moved to the US some years ago but I haven’t had the time to be with her beyond some weeks. This year, I spent three months at her house with my sister. We took care of each other, cooked for each other, laid down on bed many afternoons and talked, watched old videos of our house in Iran, and more. I felt “home” in a way I have never felt as an adult.

Morehshin Allahyari
Media Artist, Activist, and Writer

[ID: At a community-based event, a diverse audience sits on the floor around Morehshin and three others who are seated on a patterned red rug to discuss the possibilities of storytelling.]

This Is Not A Snake / The One Who Checks & The One Who Balances, 2017-2020. Ceramic, riot gear, fiber, steel, oil drums, concertina wire, ammunition cans, trash, found objects, beadwork, surplus industrial felt, afghan, dimensions: 6.5 × 3 × 50 feet. Photo by Craig Smith; courtesy of the Heard Museum.

As an artist who often works in social collaboration, I have returned back to my studio practice, taking active steps to protect the health of my loved ones and our Indigenous communities who are being affected by this pandemic disproportionately. The gift I see emerge from this time is that so many of us are able to be home with family after years of travel and engagement in the public realm.

Cannupa Hanska Luger
Multidisciplinary Artist and Futurist

[ID: An installation in a white-walled museum. Two bright colored life-size humanoid figures with ceramic faced regalia engage with a massive ceramic headed snake form whose body is created by detritus of industry.]

"Lost in the Desert Scene" rehearsal for Destiny of Desire by Karen Zacarias, directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela at The Goodman Theater in Chicago. Elia Saladana North as Victoria Maria; set design by Pierre Francois Couture; lights by Pablo Santiago; costume by Julie Weiss.

I write plays, not because I have an answer, but because I have questions. I know solutions only come to life if there is a collective conscience that demands them. Theater is not a cure. It is a uniquely public art form that can set the stage for dialogue, and change. Theater at its core is about not being alone, it is about community, and when it really works it is about communion and change.

Karen Zacarías
Playwright and Activist

[ID: An actor sits centerstage in a ballgown with hand outstretched; a crystal chandelier hangs above her. Four stage technicians hold the corners of a large piece of billowing fabric against the ground. The entire scene is cast in a dramatic bluish light.]

Visual Art

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ID: Njideka, a Black woman with short dark hair, stands against a white background. She wears an emerald green top, yellow dangling earrings and smiles slightly at the camera.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Painter and Mixed Media Artist
Los Angeles, CA

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ID: Lex, a woman with a deep orange V-neck top, dark skin, and long hair in twists smiles confidently with arms crossed standing against a brick wall with street signs blurred in the background.

Lex Brown

Multimedia Poet and Performer
Philadelphia, PA

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ID: rafa, a man with blonde hair, brown skin, and a black mustache, looks sidelong at the camera. He wears a seafoam green shirt with a dark green collar.

rafa esparza

Multidisciplinary Artist
Los Angeles, CA

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ID: Maria, a Latinx person of Mexican-American descent, sits in her Pilsen, Chicago studio. In the backdrop of the photo are her sketches and drawing for works in progress. She wears turquoise earrings and a navy blue blouse.

Maria Gaspar

Interdisciplinary Artist
Chicago, IL

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ID: Sharon, a middle-aged white queer woman with wavy brown and gray hair, stands in a gallery space in which an artwork is being installed. She is wearing a long shirt with wide black and red horizontal stripes and a camera strap diagonally across her chest. She looks at the camera and is smiling; her right hand is in her pocket, and her left forearm is behind her back.

Sharon Hayes

Multidisciplinary Artist
Philadelphia, PA

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ID: A close-up view of a line drawing in black pen on brown-toned paper in a light wooden frame. The drawing is of a person with textured curly hair resting in bed while looking at an Apple brand laptop. The figure lays on a pillow with their head propped up by their hand. Their face is mostly obscured by the laptop revealing only one eye. Their body is covered in a blanket. The folds of the blanket take up half of the surface of the drawing.

Carolyn Lazard

Multidisciplinary Artist
Philadelphia, PA

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ID: Daniel, a Black Puerto Rican 67-year-old man stands in his studio entrance. He wears a black shirt and looks at the camera.

Daniel Lind-Ramos

Assemblage Sculptor and Painter
Loíza, Puerto Rico

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ID: Aki, a Japanese woman with medium length black hair, stands by an empty shelf space in an old Japanese apartment building. She has a big smile and is wearing a loose sweatshirt with bold colorful prints.

Aki Sasamoto

Installation and Performance Artist
New York, NY

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Visual Art Panelists

Wassan Al-Khudhairi
Chief Curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
St. Louis, MO

Laura Mott
Senior Curator of Contemporary Art and Design at the Cranbrook Art Museum
Detroit, MI

Lumi Tan
Curator at The Kitchen
New York, NY

Writing

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ID: Alexander, a mixed race Korean American man of 53, is dressed in a navy cable-knit sweater and dress shirt. The wallpaper behind him is charcoal and black, and his face is lit by the sun coming from the window.

Alexander Chee

Novelist and Essayist
Bradford, VT

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ID: Eve, a light skinned Black woman, leans forward, smiling slightly and looking off camera. Her dark brown hair is braided close to her head and she has on bright red lipstick and a high-collared button-up shirt. She is wearing winged eyeliner and has freckles.

Eve L. Ewing

Writer and Scholar
Chicago, IL

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ID: Honorée, a milk chocolate-brown Black woman with chin-length, curly black hair, wears light pink glasses, geometric earrings, and a navy dress with tiny white polka dots.

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Poet and Writer
Norman, OK

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ID: Elizabeth, a middle-aged white woman with shoulder-length curly brown hair, smiles gently while wearing red lipstick, a beaded necklace, and a dark colored top.

Elizabeth McCracken

Multi-genre Writer
Austin, TX

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ID: Dunya, an Iraqi-American person with long brown hair and wearing a navy blue dress with earrings, smiles at the camera.

Dunya Mikhail

Poet and Writer
Sterling Heights, MI

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ID: Natalie, a Black woman with dark loose curls, stands outside with greenery in the background. She is wearing a sleeveless dress with a black scoop neck and aqua-blue drop earrings. She has a slight smile and is wearing purple-reddish lip gloss.

Natalie Y. Moore

Author, Journalist, and Playwright
Chicago, IL

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ID: Danez, a young Black person with a short high top fade, leans against a black railing while smiling with all their teeth. They are wearing a green cardigan, a multi-colored tank top, a gold rope chain, and brown beads around their wrist.

Danez Smith

Poet and Writer
Minneapolis, MN

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ID: Ocean, a Vietnamese-American man with black undercut-styled hair, is wearing a striped shirt and single dangling earring as he looks at the camera.

Ocean Vuong

Poet and Writer
Northampton, MA

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Writing Panelists

Brigid Hughes
Editor at A Public Space
Brooklyn, NY

Don Share
Editor at POETRY Magazine
Chicago, IL

Jacqueline Woodson
Novelist
Brooklyn, NY