Projects include creation of music, poetry and food by diverse artists.
Twenty Arkansas creatives from various backgrounds have been selected as this year’s class of Artists 3 60 recipients.
The Mid-America Arts Alliance initiative is a three-year pilot program that provides funding and professional development opportunities to artists of all disciplines in Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Sebastian and Washington County.
Practicing artists are eligible for $7,500 grants and student artists may receive $1,500 grants. Student artists do not have to submit projects, but they must articulate how the grant would enhance their creative practice and/or advance their career.
All grants will include “learning opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills and build sustainable careers, creating a network of leading regional artists,” according to the project’s website. The program is supported by the Walton Family Foundation.
The initiative has now achieved its goal of reaching 60 artists during its first three years. Some of this year’s grant recipients include:
Kayln Fay Barnoski
Artist Statement: In my songwriting and musical compositions, I explore the relationship of my personal, contemporary Indigenous (Cherokee, Creek) experience with the physical space I inhabit. The musicality of my songs are directly influenced by the terrain of specific landscapes, from the rise and fall of the prairie horizon line to the jutting hills of the Ozarks. This process comes from Indigenous epistemologies generationally passed down and allows me to portray the kinship between land and humanity. My lyrics are used as a tool for self-location, exploring the intersections of leaving and returning, the implication of existing in a settler-colonial state alongside an inherited Indigenous knowledge base, and participating in cultural community versus institutional space. Liminality is highly influential in my songwriting and used as a tool to lean in, to offer the listener an opportunity to see themselves reflected in many different facets. My songs and records are heartfelt explorations, vulnerable questioning, and the hope of a shared moment. They act as bridges between my understanding and the ways in which our experiences can intersect. They are for me, they are for you, they are for us.
Artist Statement: Through the studio practice, I question the nature of the community that excludes and protects humans throughout history and delve into the linguistic construction that the community embodies in a complicated manner. As a transnational artist from Korea and as a multilingual, I witness the complexity of communities and languages that entangles throughout local to international boundaries. Regarding community bordering that limits intersectional understanding among a variety of people of different orientations including race, gender, and culture, I aim to create a space that suggests sympathetic and subverting space outside of the hegemony of the language system. Clay is usually the main material to deform and record the trace of the body language. The use of languages and sound have become critical material as much as clay body in order to reveal the limitation of the language through the visceral and tactile medium. Yearnings for creating space for sympathy and awareness of the grey area where language never succeeds are delivered through how the works are vulnerably placed in the space yet pieces voicing out their immeasurable dimension of existence through the sensorial gesture.
Project Description: The mission is to create a project that highlights the lives, perspectives, and talents of our brothers and sisters in the community. I will dedicate a portion of my grant to collaborating with fellow artists of color and other marginalized individuals. This album is an ode to unity and a celebration of life, together.
Artist Bio: Jeremiah Pickett, otherwise known as Baang, is a thought-provoking artist who has found value in creating work that inspires, uplifts, and encourages others. Baang spent his early years in central Arkansas before moving to Texarkana. It was here where Baang’s passion for storytelling met his love for music. Slightly skeptical of a career in entertainment, Baang prematurely denounced any desire for musical pursuits. Over time the pull of his calling was stronger than the obstacles that stood before him. Baang has curated several events in the NWA area including, “Baang and the Gang.” Baang has also been featured on Good Day NWA and Bikerack’s 2019 Summer Mixtape. The concept of B.A.A.N.G is simple – it’s a choice, a lifestyle. Believe Aspire Achieve Now Go.
Audrey Samantha Romero
Artist Statement: As a theatre artist rooted in social justice, I create and collaborate on theatrical art that honors, celebrates, and empowers stories from Black, Indigenous, people of color communities and the queer/trans community. Any time I act, write, dance, teach, organize, laugh, and yell, I am driven by the future of my community. I’m an actor who performs text written by feminine writers of color. I’m a writer who creates silly worlds dominated by goddess aliens. I’m a dancer who moonwalks, but still taps to Broadway tunes. From project managing to teaching children’s theatre, I am blown away that we are capable of creating infinite art! I am also driven by the idea that storytelling is capable of social change. Through exposing our communities to stories they’re usually deprived of, it’ll provide opportunities for self-growth and learning. Theatre has the potential to be a catalyst for someone to explore things about themselves or others in a new light. This can create new discussions, ideas, actions, and more! My role as an artist is to imagine and help create a world where communities that look like mine can have access to theatre arts education, resources, and collaborative engagement. The more people in minoritized communities collaboratively engaging with each other and with art, has potential for so much growth, healing, and social change. Though I’m pursuing the little kid’s dream in me to be an actor, my values of the community must align with my theatrical practice.
Project Description: To create and produce an immersive evening of multisensory cultural exchange for local and national audiences. The audience will cook a meal after receiving a recipe upon registration and will gather (digitally) to engage with the music, food, flavors and poetry of the oldest inhabited city in the world–Damascus.
Artist Bio: Kholoud Sawaf was born and raised in Damascus, Syria and has worked and trained in theatre and television in Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and the United States. In theatre, she worked with Manhattan Theatre Club, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare & Company, and Olney Theatre Center. Most recently she conceived, wrote, and directed 10,000 Balconies after the project received a $250,000 grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. In response to COVID-19, Kholoud co-created, co-directed, and co-produced Curbside Theatre project with ArkansasStaged.
A complete list of this year’s grant recipients as well as descriptions of their work is available here.