Blog Posts for connect

How Processing COVID-19 as an Artist Transformed My Arts in Health Practice

Posted by Ms. Zoë Lintzeris, Jun 08, 2021 0 comments

No one living in New York last spring will forget the tension and the morbidity that enveloped the city when COVID-19 hit. In that period, all I heard were sirens and birds—an eerie silence for a metropolis that “never sleeps.” My roommates and I fully dealt with contracting the virus that April—from extreme fatigue and chest pressure, to headaches, fever, and the loss of taste and smell. In this milieu, I was attending virtual classes for my Arts in Health graduate certificate program, and observing my savings dwindle as work contracts and opportunities disappeared. While my body physically healed, feelings of uncertainty and anxiety overpowered me. Some days were an absolute struggle, but thankfully, I knew I wasn’t alone in my reaction and circumstances as many of my friends and peers were down and out. Even though all my work was canceled—including my first invitation to curate and co-produce a show in Manhattan — I knew I had to release what I was feeling.

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Arts Spaces for Queer BIPOC during COVID: The Sound of Change

Posted by Cedeem Gumbs, May 19, 2021 0 comments

In the wake of a global pandemic, it is almost universally understood that there are innumerable factors from the past year that have made it difficult to indulge in our favorite art forms. These challenges also have highlighted inequities in the arts sector that can no longer be ignored. In the face of these inequities, artists have begun prioritizing their platform to combat these barriers and to help change the arts sector for the better. The Color of Music Collective, or COMC, is an example of a group of artists/arts patrons who are aware of these inequities and, in turn, seek to use their online platform to engage and dismantle inequitable systems in the music industry. When asked about the origins of the Color of Music Collective, Mia Van Allen, the founder of COMC, recalled her experience as an intern working in the music industry: “As a woman of color working in the (field) it was difficult to find representation.” This experience laid the groundwork for the birth of the collective. COMC is a new organization that developed last year during the pandemic—thus their experience as a collective is unique in that their programs have always been virtual with the intent of remaining as accessible as possible.

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Luzene Hill: Grounding Art in Cultural Understanding and Lived Experience

Posted by Mr. John W. Haworth, May 04, 2021 0 comments

The multi-media Atlanta-based artist Luzene Hill, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, was one of five Fellowship artists chosen by the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis in 2015 and featured in their exhibition Conversations (the other artists honored in 2015 were Brenda Mallory, Da-ka-xeen Mehner, Holly Wilson, and Mario Martinez). Certainly, the work of these artists reaches a high formal and aesthetic level, as well as being informed by complex contemporary cultural, social and political realities. Luzene Hill’s work draws deeply personal and difficult experiences related to violence against women and Indigenous cultures. In creating museum and site-specific installations, she helps her audiences understand complex issues on a deeper level. In communicating about tough issues, she also manages to create visually stunning work. During our current period of tremendous social, cultural, and political upheaval, artists like Luzene Hill bring needed attention to key issues while engaging our hearts and minds to consider more effective ways to respond to the serious work that remains to be done.

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Arts Spaces for Queer BIPOC During COVID: The Show Must Go On

Posted by Cedeem Gumbs, Apr 28, 2021 0 comments

For queer-BIPOC identifying individuals, the endless and unique intersections of one’s identities can make it difficult to find yourself authentically represented in the arts. Working to carve out space for marginalized queer artists, The National Queer Theatre (NQT) elevates those who have been historically, and continue to be, underrepresented in the theater field. The NQT houses a unique initiative known as the Criminal Queerness Initiative (CQI), which focuses on highlighting the narratives of queer identifying international and immigrant playwrights—specifically, the censorship or criminalization they may face within their countries. The efforts of the artists are then celebrated in a culminating event, the Criminal Queerness Festival (CQF). In addition, they host the Criminal Queerness Lab: a (virtual) residency that seeks to elevate playwrights on an international scale by providing rigorous support in the writing and production of new work. I had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Odsess-Rubin, founder of the National Queer Theatre and the Criminal Queerness Initiative, about the initiative’s origins and the importance of conversation surrounding the varying degrees of censorship queer-identifying individuals encounter on an international scale.

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Member Spotlight: Tom Werder

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Apr 26, 2021 0 comments

Located in Morristown, New Jersey, Morris Arts builds community through the arts via arts in education programs, arts programming in the community, grants, scholarships, advocacy, creative placemaking events, and support for artists and arts organizations. Since 2012, Tom Werder has served as the executive director of the organization, directing and administering all programs, operations, and policies, supervising staff, managing the annual budget, and leading the strategic planning process. “I’ve loved my time at Morris Arts—it’s hardly possible to think that I’m in my ninth year. I think the thing I’m proudest of at Morris Arts has been to expand our presence both in our community as well as in the field. Through the connections gained with my involvement with Americans for the Arts, I’ve worked as a grant evaluator for a number of arts councils across the country as well as participating with a small group of arts leaders in advocacy work in Congress on behalf of the field.” 

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The art beat goes on at Creative Clay

Posted by Ms. Kerry Kriseman, Apr 22, 2021 0 comments

For Member Artist Gina K., Creative Clay is more than the place she goes three times a week to create exhibit-worthy art that is sold online and in the Good Folk Gallery. “It broke my heart when Creative Clay closed,” Gina said. “That’s the truth.” On March 19, 2020, Creative Clay was forced to close its physical location and cease regular programming due to COVID-19. The St. Petersburg, Florida nonprofit’s two largest programs, Community Arts and the Art Around the World inclusive summer camp, were closed. Before COVID-19, Creative Clay’s Community Arts Program served 50 individuals with neuro-differences, ages 18 and older, Monday through Friday. As many businesses reopened in late spring 2020, Creative Clay remained closed out of an abundance of caution to protect member artists. With a grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and a donation from Creative Clay board member Hal Freedman and his wife, Willi Rudowsky, Creative Clay Connects virtual classes launched. Donations from several other Creative Clay board members and donors helped fund individual artist kits and pay teaching artists. “I felt really happy because I was able to do art on my own, and it meant that I got to do more art,” said Member Artist Marissa H. “The classes allowed me to expand my art-making abilities.” Through Creative Clay Connects, Creative Clay has honored its vision of arts access for all. While members haven’t been able to meet in person, it doesn’t mean they aren’t connecting.

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