Announcing the 2016 Creative Capital Awardees

Clockwise from top left: Marisa Morán Jahn, Video Slink Uganda. Eileen Myles. Robin Frohardt, Dumpster Monster. Ahamefule J. Oluo. Zach Blas, Facial Weaponization Suite. desert ArtLAB, Desertification Cookbook. Jeff Becker, Sea of Common Catastrophe. Irvin Morazan, Performance in the Center of the World, Times Square, NY. Eva & Franco Mattes, Fukushima Texture Pack.

Creative Capital has announced its 2016 awardees, funding 46 projects selected from a nationwide pool of 2,500 proposals. The artistic disciplines being funded this year are: Literature, Performing Arts and Emerging Fields. Drawing on venture-capital principles, Creative Capital seeks out artists’ projects that are bold, innovative and genre-stretching, then surrounds those artists with the tools they need to realize their visions and build sustainable careers.

The 2016 Creative Capital awardees are an incredible group of creative thinkers, representing 63 artists at all stages of their careers with an age range of 28 to 65 years old. More than half are women; and more than half identify as people of color. Each funded project will receive up to $50,000 in direct funding and additional resources and advisory services—such as financial consulting and communications support—valued at $45,000, making the organization’s total 2016 investment more than $4,370,000.

Many of these projects reflect Creative Capital’s commitment to artist-activists, who are engaging some of the most significant and hotly debated issues of our time. Projects receiving funding span a wide range of genres and forms, including an exhibition and book on the histories of transgender communities, an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea as a Latin American variety show, and an opera examining America’s relationship with guns.

“Artists today are brave, bold and deeply engaged in the world,” said Ruby Lerner, Founding President & Executive Director, Creative Capital. “The 2016 class of Creative Capital awardees are creating important and deeply moving work, with immediacy and passion. This class is diverse, it is extraordinarily talented, and we believe the 2016 Creative Capital artists will shape their fields for decades to come.”

Poetry, fiction, non-fiction and web-based work are among the six selected projects, including new takes on immigration, memoir and the book as authoritative object.

Jesse Ball, Chicago, IL
Project: The Census Taker, a travel-narrative following a retired doctor traveling door-to-door with his adult Down Syndrome son.

desveladas (Macarena Hernández, Sheila Maldonado, Nelly Rosario), Brooklyn, NY
Project: desveladas: a fotoconversation, which borrows from the narrative elements of the graphic novel to explore the border encounters of three over-documented daughters of the Americas.

LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, New York, NY
Project: Global Studies, a collection of poems and flash prose that mimes the textbook structure to examine the ambiguity of history.

Percival Everett, South Pasadena, CA
Project: The Trusted Story, an experimental novel that questions the authority of the book, the text, the author and the reader.

Eileen Myles, New York, NY
Project: My Travels, a series of linked travel essays that tell the author’s life story through specific experiences in Boston, New York, India, Russia and Ireland.

Dao Strom, Portland, OR
Project: Postwar Tablefruit, a hybrid memoir that juxtaposes prose and visual elements to articulate silences, survival, shadows and the obscuring of history.

The 17 selected projects cover a wide-range of “emerging” practices, including technology-based work, social practice and interdisciplinary work. They address a range of issues and ideas including climate change, the preservation of American history, and the commodification of human DNA.

Tanya Aguiñiga, Los Angeles, CA
Project: Casa de Cambio/House of Change, a center for art creation and dissemination based in a repurposed storefront at the U.S./Mexico border crossing.

Zach Blas, Brooklyn, NY
Project: Contra-Internet, a multimedia installation that engages emerging political militancies and artistic subversions of the Internet.

Peter Burr and Porpentine, Brooklyn, NY and Oakland, CA
Project: Aria End, a digital artwork that draws on video game design to immerse participants in a disorienting narrative that unfolds through both downloadable content and public performances.

Melanie Crean, Shaun Leonardo and Sable Elyse Smith, Brooklyn, NY
Project: Mirror / Echo / Tilt, a collaboration with formerly incarcerated people that uses magical realism to investigate representations of criminalized black and brown bodies.

desert ArtLAB (April Bojorquez and Matt Garcia), Pueblo, CO
Project: Desertification Cookbook: Strategies for Beautiful Living in a Dryer, Hotter World, a manual that will instruct on both the cultivation and preparation of a desert-based food practice.

Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Chicago, IL
Project: Sell/Bio, a multidisciplinary investigation of the ethically controversial and largely unregulated practice of extracting and selling human DNA.

Liz Glynn, Los Angeles, CA
Project: Gol[den], a monumental installation based in a foreclosed home in Southern California that explores pleasure, quality of life and income inequality through participatory events.

Heather Hart and Jina Valentine, Brooklyn, NY and Durham, NC
Project: The Black Lunch Table, which provides sites where Black cultural producers can engage in critical dialogue on topics directly affecting the Black community.

Marisa Morán Jahn, New York, NY
Project: Video Slink Uganda, a collaboration with three superstar VJs in Uganda to insert artwork into bootleg DVDs shown in Ugandan video halls.

KCHUNG, Los Angeles, CA
Project: News Body, a mobile, roving broadcast that brings live interviews, reporting and production training by KCHUNG’s cooperative content producers to any location in Southern California.

Yotam Mann, Brooklyn, NY
Project: Interactive Music, a collection of interactive musical experiences in the form of browser-based songs, musical installations and a collaborative concert.

Eva and Franco Mattes, Brooklyn, NY
Project: Fukushima Texture Pack, a publicly-accessible collection of surface textures based on photographs taken in the radioactive Fukushima Exclusion Zone.

Irvin Morazan, Richmond, VA
Project: Silent Zoomorph is a performance series consisting of fictionalized rituals and wearable sculptures that will be activated in art galleries, burial sites, temples, places of natural phenomenon and a radioactive desert.

Laura Parnes, Brooklyn, NY
Project: Tour Without End, a multi-platform project resulting in a film, video installation and web-based archive of local musicians and venues in New York City.

Kenya (Robinson), Gainesville, FL
Project: CHEEKY LaSHAE: Karaoke Universal, which uses the structure of an online course to perforate the boundaries between audience and performer, evoking the history of drag performance, puppetry, model-making and social media.

Evan Roth, Paris, France
Project: Voices Over the Horizon, a paranormal investigation, utilizing ghost hunting technologies and rituals, into the invisible existence of the Internet.

Chris E. Vargas, Bellingham, WA
Project: Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects, a visual and material exploration of objects that hold significance in narrating the history of transgender communities.

The 23 funded projects draw on a wide array of performance practices and ideas, including tragic operas, the criminal justice system, Greek mythology, the sounds of fracking, and the body as instrument.

Cornell Alston and Kaneza Schaal, New York, NY
Project: KNOTS, a performance of psychological, social and political entanglements that explores the conundrums citizens face when re-entering society after incarceration.

Jeff Becker, New Orleans, LA
Project: Sea of Common Catastrophe, a multi-media performance event, inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that explores resilience amidst the turbulent community change caused by a catastrophic flood.

Peter Born and Okwui Okpokwasili, Brooklyn, NY
Project: Poor People’s TV Room, a multi-disciplinary performance piece that investigates the tradition of women’s collective action in Nigeria.

Ligia Bouton, Matt Donovan and Lei Liang, San Diego, CA
Project: Inheritance, a multimedia chamber opera that explores America’s deeply complex relationship with violence and guns through the life and legacy of Sarah Winchester, heir to the gun-manufacturer fortune.

Sharon Bridgforth, San Francisco, CA
Project: dat Black Mermaid Man Lady, a series of writing workshops, tarot readings and storytelling gatherings based in a tiny house, built for the project, in a San Francisco neighborhood facing gentrification.

Ben Thorp Brown, Brooklyn, NY
Project: Freedom From Everything, an archive, video work and performance investigating the practices and economics of contemporary forms of labor, including digital labor and crowdsourcing.

Ann Carlson, Santa Monica, CA
Project: The Symphonic Body, a performance by people from any workplace or institution made entirely of gestures based on the motions of their workday.

Mallory Catlett, New York, NY
Project: M/F Future, a diptych of performance installations about the future and the possibilities of becoming.

Ellen Sebastian Chang and Amara Tabor-Smith, Oakland, CA
Project: HouseFull, a site-specific dance-theater piece addressing issues facing women of color in Oakland, from gentrification to sex trafficking.

Jim Findlay, Brooklyn, NY
Project: Electric Lucifer, a futuristic, music-driven theatrical work that reanimates Bruce Haack’s cult classic albums by the same name, imagining a war between heaven and hell in a 21st-century context.

Robin Frohardt, Brooklyn, NY
Project: The Plastic Bag Store, a puppetry-based live performance and elaborate installation situated in a storefront in Manhattan.

Sean Graney, Chicago, IL
Project: A Ring Never Ends, a contemporary and accessible re-telling of Wagner’s masterpiece, The Ring of the Nibelung cycle.

Brian Harnetty, Columbus, OH
Project: Shawnee, Ohio, an experimental musical collage reflecting the sounds of a small town with historical roots in coal mining and a contemporary struggle with fracking.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Carmelita Tropicana, New York, NY
Project: Jacobs-Jenkins/Tropicana Project (working title), an intergenerational hybrid performance that explores the uses and abuses of nostalgia, race and the avant-garde, and the mystery of remaining artistically viable.

Joseph Keckler, Brooklyn, NY
Project: Let Me Die, a durational performance in which the artist enacts hundreds of deaths, extracted from tragic operas in the public domain.

Heather Kravas, Seattle, WA
Project: visions of beauty, a choreography for nine men that investigates the ways in which gender alters and creates meaning.

Ahamefule J. Oluo, Seattle, WA
Project: Susan, a long-form comedic storytelling piece and a multi-movement orchestral suite based on the life story of the artist’s mother.

Pegasus Warning (Guillermo E. Brown), Los Angeles, CA
Project: Bee Boy, an experimental music performance exploring bee colony collapse disorder and the human struggle for safety and freedom in the face of increasing violence.

Graham Reynolds, Austin, TX
Project: Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance, an experimental chamber opera that uses the life and death of Pancho Villa to explore the intersections and conflicts in Mexican and American culture.

Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble (Tei Blow and Sean McElroy), Brooklyn, NY
Project: The Art of Luv, a series of performance-rituals exploring mythologies of romance in the Internet age.

James Scruggs, Jersey City, NJ
Project: 3/5, an immersive performance that explores the residual effects of the discriminatory “Three-Fifths Compromise” of 1787 and tracks racial tension between black and white men.

Erika Chong Shuch, Berkeley, CA
Project: For You, an audience engagement performance laboratory in which a dance-theater piece is constructed around the hopes, dreams and fears of 36 unconnected individuals selected from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Yara Travieso, Brooklyn, NY
Project: La Medea, which adapts Euripides’ Medea as a Latin American variety show that will be presented simultaneously as a live performance, live-stream broadcast and film.

Browse all new artists and projects at

About the Selection Process
Creative Capital awardees are selected through an intensive, three-phase application process. In February 2015, Creative Capital issued an open call for Letters of Inquiry and received around 2,500 applications. Working with more than 100 curators, programmers and other arts professionals from around the country, Creative Capital winnowed the thousands of inquiries down to 763 artists who were invited to submit full proposals. 231 of those proposals moved to the panel review stage, where consultants selected the 46 funded projects.

“We are committed to supporting ambitious new work through an open application process, providing a resource for artists who challenge the field but may not be familiar to larger audiences,” said Lisa Dent, Director of Resources & Award Programs, Creative Capital. “Evaluators are asked to look for risk at every stage by selecting ‘wild cards’—projects that may not have received one of their highest scores but stuck with them as exciting or timely. We were thrilled to see that 18 of the 46 funded projects were marked as ‘wild cards’ at some point during the process.”

Panelists for Emerging Fields were:
Regine Basha, Independent Curator, New York, NY (Lead Consultant)
Julia Christensen, Media Artist / 2013 Emerging Fields Awardee, Oberlin, OH
Malik Gaines, My Barbarian / 2012 Visual Arts Awardee, New York, NY
Chrisstina Hamilton, Director of Visitors’ Programs, Stamp School of Art & Design, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Lindsay Howard, Independent Curator, New York, NY
Marina McDougall, Director, Center for Art & Inquiry, Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA
Jack Stenner, Associate Professor of Art + Technology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Panelists for Literature were:
Peter Blackstock, Senior Editor, Grove/Atlantic, New York, NY
Mónica de la Torre, Senior Editor, BOMB Magazine, New York, NY
Ethan Nosowsky, Editorial Director, Graywolf Press, Oakland, CA (Lead Consultant)
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Writer / 2013 Literature Awardee, New York, NY
Don Share, Editor, Poetry Magazine at Poetry Foundation, Chicago, IL

Panelists for Performing Arts were:
Ron Berry, Director, Fusebox Festival, Austin, TX
Yolanda Cesta Cursach, Associate Director of Performance Programs, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, IL
Daniel Alexander Jones, Performing Artist / 2000 Performing Arts Awardee, Bronx, NY
Miwa Matreyek, Performing Artist / 2013 Performing Arts Awardee, Los Angeles, CA
Michael Reed, Senior Director of Programs & Organizational Initiatives, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Kim Whitener, Producing Director, HERE Arts Center, New York, NY (Lead Consultant)

Browse all new artists and projects at

Press Inquiries: Mark Ro Beyersdorf,, 646-200-5295.

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Jenny Gill

About Jenny Gill

Jenny Gill is Director of Communications at Creative Capital and editor of The Lab. Prior to joining Creative Capital in 2010, she produced educational programs and digital content for the American Craft Council. She has worked at numerous commercial and nonprofit galleries, including as Gallery Director at the University of the South (Sewanee, TN), Gallery Manager at Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. (New York) and Assistant Curator at Vanderbilt University’s Fine Arts Gallery (Nashville, TN). She also worked as a letterpress designer/printer at the historic Hatch Show Print, studied at the International Workshop for Ceramic Art in Tokoname, Japan, and was an artist assistant for Nashville sculptor Alan LeQuire. Jenny holds a BA in art and art history from Vanderbilt University, where she was awarded the Hamblet Award for studio art, and an MA from Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts, Design and Culture.

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  1. Pingback: LaTasha Diggs Honored with 2016 Creative Capital Award | Black Earth Institute

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