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
Remember those zoetropes you had as a kid showing the silhouette of a galloping race horse? Baltimore artist Eric Dyer has developed the concept of this pre-cinema device to stunning results. For his Creative Capital project, Short Ride, he is building a massive tunnel you can walk through with thousands of moving parts. We interviewed Eric during his recent exhibition at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts. To learn more about Eric Dyer and Short Ride, click here.
Emily Johnson/Catalyst (2013 Performing Arts) is bringing the expansive installation SHORE to New York this month, with gatherings and events throughout the city (April 19-26) and performances at New York Live Arts (April 23-25). SHORE expands beyond the theater to celebrate the places where we meet and merge—land and water; performer and audience; art and community; past, present, and future.
Throughout her work, Johnson asks: How can performance uniquely connect us to our land, our lives and each other? A native of Alaska who is based in Minneapolis, Johnson has spent the past four months working with community partners to plan this locally-specific version of SHORE in New York City, or as the Native Americans called it, Lenapehoking (“land of the Lenape”). She describes the events planned for SHORE in Lenapehoking: “SHORE moves, over the course of a week, from the dunes in the Rockaways, to the East River estuary, onto and into New York Harbor, over Minetta Creek, to the banks and buoyancy of Newtown Creek. We’ll listen to stories, we’ll work together, we’ll share food and this performance, taking care of what we need to care for. We’ll walk and bike and canoe and celebrate.” Continue reading
Ken Gonzales-Day, “Hands Up,” 2015. Chromogenic print.
Ken Gonzales–Day (2012 Visual Arts) will premiere his Creative Capital-supported project with the solo exhibition, Ken Gonzales–Day: Run Up, on view at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles from April 4 through May 9, 2015. Run Up is the latest chapter in Gonzales–Day’s acclaimed Erased Lynching series, selections of which have been acquired by the Smithsonian Institution, the Norton Museum of Art and numerous private collections, and exhibited in museums and galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Vienna, Mexico City and other major cities. I connected with him to learn more about this timely project.
Jenny Gill: Your past work has involved a lot of archival research, exploring histories of racial profiling and racially motivated crime. These issues have really come to the forefront in the past year with the shootings of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Michael Brown in Ferguson, and other police violence. Did this body of work shift in response to those current events?
Ken Gonzales-Day: The work is directly informed by recent events but my research on vigilantism and lynching began in 2000. The early research looked at the lynching of Mexicans and other people of color in California as a way of expanding our understanding of the history of lynching in the United States, and to more accurately reflect its impact in the American West. My book, Lynching in the West: 1850-1935 (Duke, 2006) included over 350 cases of lynching and vigilantism in California and was able to document the many communities of color that were touched by this history. This new series of works grew out of that research but it is also responding to both the similarities, and the differences, between lynching and the kinds of racialized violence that are occurring today. Continue reading
Paul Beatty‘s Creative Capital-supported project, The Sellout, is being released today by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The novel is a biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant. The book is already receiving rave reviews, including one from Dwight Garner of The New York Times, who wrote, “The first 100 pages of The Sellout are the most caustic and the most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I’ve read in at least a decade.” We recently caught up with Paul to ask about his background in poetry, his study of psychology and his writing process.
Jenny Gill: You were a Poetry Slam champ and published two books of poetry before you published your first novel, White Boy Shuffle, in 1996. How did that background inform your approach to language when you started writing novels? Do you still write poetry?
Paul Beatty: Poetry has had a huge impact on how I approach literature. Slamming not so much. Poetry is the backbone to how I think about structure and the page. And I’ve yet to break myself of the notion that every word is vitally important—though I’m trying.
Creative Capital is pleased to announce its 2015 awardees in the categories of Moving Image and Visual Arts, representing a total of 46 funded projects selected from a nationwide pool of more than 3,700 proposals. 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 2015 Creative Capital Artists are an incredible group of creative thinkers, representing 50 artists at all stages of their careers with an age range of 28 to 80 years old. They hail from 13 states plus Puerto Rico and Canada; more than half are women, and more than half identify as non-European American. Each funded project receives up to $50,000 in direct funding, plus additional resources and advisory services valued at $45,000, making the organization’s total 2015 investment more than $4,370,000. Continue reading
Media artist Julia Christensen (2013 Emerging Fields) is making DIY projectors out of discarded iPhones. In this video, she introduces her project Burnouts, which is part of a series of works supported by Creative Capital that explore our cultural relationship with e-waste.
Left: Sam Van Aken, Blind Spots, 2014. Silver nitrate photograph.
Right: Julia Christensen, Burnouts, 2014. Videos, plastic with mirrors, glass lenses, smartphones.
On October 2, Creative Capital Artists Juan William Chávez, Julia Christensen, Robert Karimi and Kerry Skarbakka present with Ruby Lerner at IdeaFestival, a celebration for the intellectually curious that takes place each fall in Louisville, KY. This is the fifth year that Creative Capital has presented a session entitled “Art on the Edge” to introduce the diverse audiences at this international convening to the work of four remarkable artistic innovators. Sam Van Aken, also a Creative Capital awardee, will present a separate session, “Disruptive Thinking and a Hole in the Sky,” on October 3. Both presentations take place at 10:30am EST. You can read profiles of all the artists on the IdeaFestival website and follow the presentations live on Twitter (#IF14).
In conjunction with IdeaFestival, 21c Museum Hotel is presenting 21c Celebrates Creative Capital: A 15th Anniversary Exhibition, featuring the work of 18 Creative Capital awardees including Peggy Ahwesh, Nick Cave, Chris Doyle, Simone Leigh, Eve Sussman, and the five artists presenting in this year’s IdeaFestival. The exhibition, which opens on September 30 and runs through March 2015, includes an installation of Julia Christensen’s Burnouts project, a series of projectors made out of recycled iPhones. Continue reading
Connie Samaras, “Edge of Twilight (1),” 2011-14 . Creative Capital 2014 Edition (edition of 150). 10″ x 12.5″ digital print on 11″ x 17″ paper. Price: $500.
Every year, we partner with a Creative Capital Artist to create a special project or edition for our Benefit & Auction. This year, for our 15th Anniversary Benefit, which takes place in New York on October 21, we are thrilled to offer a stunning photo by Connie Samaras (2012 Visual Arts) to everyone who purchases a Premium Benefit Ticket ($500). The image is from Edge of Twilight, a series of photos and videos shot at an all woman, predominantly lesbian, RV retirement community located in the U.S. Southwestern desert. Samaras shot close-ups of the RV homes on film late at night under the park’s safety lights, capturing eerie, somewhat unearthly light and colors.
Samaras, who is based in Los Angeles, recently had a major survey of her work dealing with the future imaginaries of global capital, Tales of Tomorrow, at the Armory in Pasadena. The exhibition was accompanied by a beautiful catalogue funded by the Warhol foundation and available through DAP/artbook. I connected with Connie to learn more about her Creative Capital edition and the Edge of Twilight series.