Writer Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts took over the former Hotel Theresa space in Harlem to create an installation of works by various artists as well as poetry readings to honor the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination. We visited the site and spoke to Sharifa about why the community gathering was so relevant to the current events of today, as well as her Creative Capital project, It Is Written.
This weekend, Cassils embarks on a tour Europe of performances and exhibitions, starting with a solo show at the Museum of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. We caught up with our 2015 awardee to find out how they use their body to combat fire (literally) and stereotypes.
Alex Teplitzky: In a 2012 artist statement you describe yourself as an “artist and a bodybuilder.” I love the juxtaposition of the two, forcing us to really reconsider what we already think we know about body art. Can you tell me about your artistic background, and when you started realizing you could blend the two practices together?
Cassils: I have changed my statement from “artist and body builder” to say: “Implementing rigorous physical training practices and queering their knowledge of kinesiology and sports science, they formally manipulate the body into shapes that defy expectations.” Because people do not understand that bodybuilding, in and of itself is a gendered practice. When you walk into a gym often a trainer will create a different kind of program for a woman then for a man. This is based on social expectations of what these bodies are supposed to look like but physiologically if you train for strength and size there is no way in which the training differs. So it is about queering sports science and adapting these methods of bodybuilding towards my own end of self transformation.
As for my background I have always been an artist. When I was eleven years old I had undiagnosed gallbladder disease which reeked havoc on my body as I went untreated for three years. I got to the point where my bile ducts ruptured and I was hospitalized for some time. I was very ill and at one point almost bled out due to a bleeding ulcer. I came face to face with my mortality at age 14. This got me interested in advocating for my own body and this is how I started learning about the body which in turn led me to a career as a personal trainer. I help people learn about their bodies and be present, healthy and connected in a society that insists upon slumping over your computer, eating fast food and charges you when you get sick. Being an artist, I have always supported myself with my work as a personal trainer. I have run my own business now for 17 years. As I do a lot of both practices and so the two have informed each other over the years.
Byron Au Yong is a composer, Creative Capital awardee, and leader of our “Art Business Management” webinar for the Professional Development Program (PDP). His interdisciplinary projects, scored for voices with Asian, European and handmade instruments, have been performed in concert halls, festivals, theaters, museums, and site-specific locations. We had a few questions for Byron about his creative work and how he manages it. For more, be sure to check out Byron’s webinar on Thursday, May 21.
Hannah Fenlon: Your work has been performed in all kinds of places. What are some of your favorites? Any non-traditional spaces that really stand out in your memory?
Byron Au Yong: My favorite places and presenters provide multiple access points to develop and think about a project. American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, and Sundance Institute Theatre residencies around North America were crucial in supporting my Creative Capital project, STUCK ELEVATOR, and other shows.
In my hometown, favorite venues include On the Boards, Seattle Art Museum and Seattle Theatre Group’s Moore Theater. Memorable non-traditional spaces include 64 waterways for KIDNAPPING WATER: BOTTLED OPERAS thanks to guidance from 4Culture’s Site-Specific Performance Network and Jack Straw New Media Gallery. I am blessed to continue working outdoors along the water with performances of TURBINE, June 27th & 28th, 2015, commissioned by Leah Stein Dance Company and Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia for the 200th anniversary of the Fairmount Water Works.
On the cusp of the debut of their new film, The Yes Men (2000 Emerging Fields) have written a blog post for us detailing the various ways they have funded their feature-length projects over the past decade. From working with HBO to desperately touring Sundance to using crowd funding platforms, it hasn’t always been easy, they tell us.
We are currently preparing for a June 12 release of The Yes Men are Revolting, the third movie in a series that began fifteen years ago with a Creative Capital grant. As we gear up for the release, one of the most common questions we’re asked is how we support our work. Sadly, the answer today is more difficult and complex than ever.
In 2000, we were in the first round of awards from the fledgling Creative Capital. In hindsight, we really had no clue how lucky we were. We leveraged that grant to get a few more (NYFA Fellowships, a Herb Alpert Award, a couple of Guggenheim and Langlois grants). That covered the cost of launching a barrage of creative actions aimed at the World Trade Organization, which became the backbone of our first film, The Yes Men. The grants covered these actions, and the filmmaking costs were covered by Chris Smith, the Sundance prize-winning director who directed that movie, using his earnings from commercial work to finance it all. Continue reading
If you’re a writer who focuses on contemporary art, you know that money for your craft is hard to come by. Sadly, even for some of the best arts writers out there, this can affect the time and effort one has to put into writing books, articles, essays and blog posts. With this in mind Creative Capital and the Warhol Foundation got together in 2006 to launch the Arts Writers Grant Program. The Arts Writers program really believes that quality writing deserves to have good funding behind it, and that this can change how writing about the arts is discussed, perceived and even made. The grants range from $15,000 to $50,000 to individual writers in five categories: Article, Blog, Book, New and Alternative Media, and Short-Form Writing. The program is currently accepting applications through May 21st!
What kind of arts writing does the Arts Writers Grant Program typically fund? After nine years, it’s pretty clear that there is nothing typical in this field! Continue reading
As Frieze Art Fair descends on New York, we’re getting excited to see work by some Creative Capital artists. Below are some of the pieces you can look forward to seeing May 14-17. Also, on Thursday, May 14, Jamal Cyrus from Otabenga Jones joins a panel that will explore how “artists’ collectives today are learning from or deviating from previous historical collectives.”
This post is part of Brian Tate’s series, The Seven Elements of Strategic Marketing: Tools for Artists to Advance Their Careers and Communities. Read Part One: Marketing Is Storytelling, and Part Two: The Story Chooses Sides.
On Monday, May 11, Brian Tate leads his Professional Development Program Webinar, “The Seven Elements of Strategic Marketing,” which examines these elements, and how we use them to advance our communities and careers.
Like most journeys, marketing strategy can be broken into a series of steps. They begin with choosing a path.
Make a Self-Inventory: The first step is to make a self-inventory of what’s important to you, why you’ve chosen a certain path to pursue it, and just how far you’re willing to go. The results of that examination will form the arc of your Story, and it can help you connect with like-minded others. The next step is to define the qualities or intentions that link your work to a tradition, yet also set it apart. Continue reading
Individuals donate the vast majority of funds to nonprofit organizations in America, whether it’s regular folks writing a personal check, making a monthly donation via a website, offering free services or supplies, or buying a ticket to a benefit party. Successful fundraisers devote significant time to soliciting such support; they conduct campaigns, produce special events and engage the community.
Whether you’re an individual artist going it alone or you work with a theater company or other artist collective, fundraising from individuals is increasingly important. We know it can be difficult to get started; we want to help you ask yourself the right questions so you can approach donors from the strongest position and feel secure in what you’re offering to contributors. If you’re raising funds for a socially or community engaged project, we encourage you to dig deeper with Stephanie Bleyer’s May 7th webinar, “Producing and Funding Your Community Engagement Campaign.” Read more about Stephanie here.
Getting Ready: Key Questions
As you begin thinking about your campaign, you’ll want to begin researching potential donors and strategies; deciding what donors will get when they give; and preparing to do follow-up, give thanks and keep track of donations long-term. You’ll also want to ask yourself the following questions before you ever ask anyone for anything. You don’t have to answer each one, but read through them all. They are interrelated, and together they should help you develop a strategy that plays to your strengths as a person and as an artist.
Experimental filmmaker and video artist Peggy Ahwesh (2000 Moving Image) was part of Creative Capital’s first class of awardees with her work The Star Eaters, a short film about gambling, risk-taking and failure in one woman’s trip through Atlantic City. Since then, Peggy’s career has not stopped for a minute. Most recently she was commissioned for The Times Square Advertising Coalition and Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment with a piece entitled City Thermogram. Using a thermal camera from Princeton’s MIRTHE Lab, Peggy roamed the streets of New York City shooting city views and recording the “glow of the heat generating systems and devices we rely on.” So every night in April from 11:57pm to midnight, Peggy’s piece have taken over the video screens of Times Square. The installation ends on April 30, so if you’re in New York, wander over to Time Square just before midnight!
To celebrate her latest achievement, here are our top five Peggy Ahwesh films, in no particular order, as we take a look back at her career. Continue reading
Maggie Nelson (2013 Literature) has made a name for herself as a border-smashing writer of books that straddle poetry and prose, academic writing and cultural reporting, memoir and criticism. Today, Nelson’s Creative Capital-supported project, The Argonauts, is published in wide release by Graywolf Press.
The Argonauts centers on a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with artist Harry Dodge, who is fluidly gendered. Nelson describes the complexities and joys of becoming a stepmother to Harry’s son, as well as her journey to conceive the child who they are now raising together. Writing in the spirit of critics like Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson’s experience serves as a way to explore how iconic thinkers and theorists have tried to untie the vexing knots that limit the way we talk about gender and the domestic institutions of marriage and childbirth. I spoke with Maggie to learn more about the development of The Argonauts.
Jenny Gill: I’m curious how your writing timeline overlapped with and unfolded alongside the life events you write about in the book. When did you start writing The Argonauts, and how did the book and your life change or evolve over that period?
Maggie Nelson: I didn’t set out to write The Argonauts as a book. In late 2010 I wrote a long piece on Eve Sedgwick, which I gave as a talk at CUNY in March 2011, then in early 2012 I wrote a long review of Sedgwick’s posthumous book, The Weather in Proust, for the LA Review of Books. Then my son was born. Later that year I wrote an essay for artist A. L. Steiner’s November 2012 show “Puppies and Babies,” in which I developed some ideas about “sodomitical maternity,” a great phrase set forth by critic Susan Fraiman. All of these pieces were basically me challenging myself to say “yes” to occasional writing, since I usually say “no” (I can be kind of mono-focused on book writing, at the expense of smaller outings). During all this time, I was also writing more diaristically, about my son, my relationship, my thoughts about family, politics, queerness, sex, gender and so on. It wasn’t until fall 2012 when I looked at a lot of this work and thought, maybe this could or should all go together. At which point I started fashioning it into a long essay of sorts. Continue reading