Monday, October 1, 2018

October 2018 Meet Our Artists: Kevin Augustine

Our Members, Fiscally Sponsored Artists, and other program participants represent a wide range of career stages and disciplines. We love them - and, as fellow artists, we're always inspired by them. With this monthly feature, we hope you'll feel the same way!

 Name: Kevin Augustine

What do you do?
Actor, Sculptor, Puppeteer, Artistic Director - Lone Wolf Tribe

What are you proud of?
My tenacious spirit. Finding an artistic voice that's part archeologist and investigative journalist; a purpose that keeps me digging towards discovery-- towards unearthing a story that deserves to be seen and heard.

What inspires you?
Self-expression, challenge, choice, freedom, spontaneity, authenticity, compassion, integrity, mutuality, efficiency, discovery, creativity, beauty, equanimity, space.

What are your goals?
To tour the world with my company's first show in a new solo performance cycle: the dance/puppet hybrid, BODY CONCERT. I am also looking forward to completing the script for my 10th production (solo show) on human and animal rights: The PEOPLE Vs NATURE. This will involve a unique form of audience participation which I am eager to experiment with!

Do you have any advice for your fellow artists?
Gently embrace your creative tough times too. It's all connected so just stay open and be kind to yourself (and others). Do your best and let go of the outcome. Meditate. Broaden your valued community by leaving animals off the menu.

How does The Field help you?

The Field has been my fiscal sponsor for many, many years. They have been a valued partner in all the grant writing my company has had to do to secure production funding.

 
Click to enlarge images.
the LEG BODY CONCERT

To join The Field community and become eligible for a "Meet Our Artists" feature, sign up for a membership and join our mailing list for program updates!



Saturday, September 1, 2018

September 2018 Meet Our Artists: Ranardo-Domeico Grays

Our Members, Fiscally Sponsored Artists, and other program participants represent a wide range of career stages and disciplines. We love them - and, as fellow artists, we're always inspired by them. With this monthly feature, we hope you'll feel the same way!


Name: Ranardo-Domeico Grays

What do you do?
Choreographer, Founder/Artistic Director of VISIONS Contemporary Ballet (VCB), an ethnically diverse company committed to presenting spiritually uplifting contemporary ballet works.

What are you proud of?

I am proud to be a four-year brain cancer survivor...and to be creatively flourishing. After taking two years off for treatment I returned to VCB with even more of a story to share. I have completed past works in progress and I'm presenting new work. I created Roots, a new work presented in 2016 and Through the Valley, presented in 2017 for our 10-year anniversary performance, Healing Works. Currently I am working on our fall 2018 Healing Works II program, which will include the newly completed Dash - Between, and will be presented at The Theatre at The Riverside Church in NYC on November 10.

For the first time since leaving my hometown of Detroit, Michigan to attend The Juilliard School in New York, I will be returning to present my company in a concert dedicated to the "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on December 19 – bringing my company home to share my work with the community that first nurtured dance in my life!

What inspires you?
I feel that The Lord has given me the opportunity to present VISIONS Contemporary Ballet to the community with more focus and even more passion than ever. I choreograph to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life in the local community and beyond. I feel that art can be used for healing. When people see themselves in my work or tell me that they were moved, it motivates me to keep going and creating.

What are your goals?
My goal is to build VISIONS Contemporary Ballet to be a strong contemporary ballet company with a voice of encouragement and inspiration and to embark on a multi-city US and international tour to share my work on a broader spectrum.

Do you have any advice for your fellow artists?
We each have our own path. Continue to persevere, especially when you feel like giving up. As long as you are putting forth your best efforts, everything will fall into place eventually, even if it may not appear that way. Don't be distracted by things that don't seem to come through. They just may not be meant for you at that time.

How does The Field help you?
As an artistic director and choreographer, I am able to take advantage of opportunities that would not be available to me if I was not a Sponsored Artist of The Field. I was recently awarded the 2018-2019 UMEZ Grant as an inaugural recipient. I would not have been able to receive this important grant without the support of The Field.






Click to enlarge images. Photography by Andrew Williams

To join The Field community and become eligible for a "Meet Our Artists" feature, sign up for a membership and join our mailing list for program updates!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

August 2018 Meet Our Artists: Nisha Pradeep

Our Members, Fiscally Sponsored Artists, and other program participants represent a wide range of career stages and disciplines. We love them - and, as fellow artists, we're always inspired by them. With this monthly feature, we hope you'll feel the same way!



 Name: Nisha Pradeep

I am...
Director of Takajum LLC. Our mission is to create dance and drama productions using the principles of Classical art forms of India. Preserving the art forms and, at the same time, finding innovative ways to make it relevant and enjoyable to a diverse set of audiences. Takajum LLC. Our mission is to create dance and drama productions using the principles of Classical art forms of India. Preserving the art forms and, at the same time, finding innovative ways to make it relevant and enjoyable to a diverse set of audiences.

What inspires you?
I am inspired most by the appreciation we get for works that we present. I have always believed that dance and music can break any barriers like language or ethnicity. When I see a very diverse set of audiences feel and understand our work, it makes my belief strong. An artistic work presented with the most sincere and true emotions will evoke the rasa (Sanskrit) or feelings in the audience. When someone tells me, “I cried watching the performance,” or, “it reminded me of those days,” I know I have made them feel something. The connection I make with my audience and the satisfaction I get from that drives me to better myself as an artist and a performer.

What are you proud of?
I am proud of the fact that I never let fame or money dilute my mission. My mission has been to preserve the art form I have learned from my teacher/Guru and find innovative ways to make it more enjoyable and understandable to all. Quality has always been my priority. It has had its downside because it slows my growth. But I am still proud that I did not compromise on quality and I stuck to my roots. My success is not defined by the money I make but by the impact my work has on the audience.

What are your goals?
I try to follow the path as it unfolds. But my ultimate wish is to become a good artist whose work is appreciated and remembered. I am a teacher and I wish that I inspire my students, too, to love and nurture the art form that I teach.

Do you have any advice for your fellow artists?
Don't be disheartened if something does not happen the way you envisioned. Sometimes things fail so you are reset and put on the right track. If you think like that, every failure will seem like a stepping stone to a brand new idea. And it will not be a failure anymore. Never define failure as "I did not achieve my goal," for a goal is just a dream until you reach it. But the path or phase you are in is what is real. Make the most of it. Listen to what that path is telling you.

How does The Field help you?
I have many projects and ideas and I was looking for a way to get sponsorship or grants. I am excited to have found The Field and hope to make my projects a reality through the many programs they have to support artists like me.


Click to enlarge images. Photos by Tom Paul Nettikadan Photography
© Nisha Pradeep / Takajum LLC

To join The Field community and become eligible for a "Meet Our Artists" feature, sign up for a membership and join our mailing list for program updates!

Friday, July 6, 2018

How Can We Really Earn the Name, The Field?

by Jennifer Wright Cook, Executive Director of The Field

The name “The Field” is ambitious. It implies that we believe that the whole ecology of artists and makers is vital to the health of our world. “The Field” means that we believe that all voices and visions are key. Maybe we haven’t earned that name?

From May 2017 til May 2018 The Field was one of 60 arts organizations in the Race Forward’s Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab, an amazing yearlong training program to improve racial equity in the arts and culture sector. Representing The Field was former Program Manager Wilfredo Hernandez, and myself - Executive Director, Jennifer Wright Cook.

Race Forward | The Center for Racial Justice Innovation | logo
Click to read their June 2017 press release,
"Race Forward Announces Distinguished Roster of
Participants for Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab."
After several workshops and skill-sharing (and dance parties), each organization had to launch a prototype to advance equity in their organization. The Field focused our prototype on Fieldwork, our 32 year old flagship feedback program that has been used by tens of thousands of artists and educators nationally and internationally. 

For context, Fieldwork artists/participants have historically skewed primarily white, primarily female, primarily dance/movement-based work. Our four Fieldwork facilitators are artists of color; three of whom have facilitated for 10+ years. In order to support our facilitators and sustain the program as a whole, we realized (1) We have some work to do, and (2) We are gonna do that work.

Wilfredo and I analyzed the pedagogy and practice of Fieldwork by looking hard at the Facilitator Manual and the participant Guidelines. We looked for coded language and silent references to the lifting up of white Eurocentric aesthetics around style, structure, design, body type, etc.

The work we set out to do was co-created with our Fieldwork facilitators. They are vital to the work. We collaborated with Fieldwork facilitators Pele Bauch, James Scruggs, Shalewa Mackall and Naoko Maeshiba via discussions, and review of writing and processes.

Current Fieldwork facilitators, L-R: Pele Bauch, Shalewa Mackall, Naoko Maeshiba, and James Scruggs
Field Deputy Director Shawn René Graham and National Field Network Manager Katherine Longstreth participated in our discussions and revisions. Full Field staff was looped in to the process and resulting programmatic changes.

Here are two key problem areas we identified together, and our processes to address them:
  1. Problem: The emotional labor of our facilitators is real. We need to support them more, check in more, listen more, and pay them for check-ins and debriefs.
    Process: We are baking in regular check-ins and debriefs to our facilitator engagements, and we are adding money to the budget to support this work.
  2. Problem: We need to be race explicit. Our public-facing Guidelines had not intentionally and authentically included artists of color.
    Process: We added more inclusive language. For instance, we included the following text to the Guidelines used by all participants, and made them available on our website: “If you feel like the feedback is too much or is biased by race, gender, culture or other -isms, the facilitator will lead the group to ensure that the artist’s work and vision is centered authentically and respectfully.”
In case you’re wondering, “Is this just a Diversity Initiative that just aims to get more artists of color in Fieldwork?” – the goal of this work is not to get more artists of color in Fieldwork – although that might happen.

The goal is to ensure that artists of color feel intentionally and authentically seen, supported, and engaged. As Wilfredo said,
"If we are going to create the circumstances in which artists of color feel supported and uplifted, then we need to scaffold that experience and make sure we are co-creating that reality each time we enter into the room. That requires some level of standard language and practice."
So what’s next?
  • Fully bake in the new practices and protocols so that Fieldwork can better support artists of color
  • Share our work with our national Fieldwork sites
  • Connect to more outer borough and/or artists of color led spaces for Fieldwork
Overall we are deeply grateful to Race Forward for this incredibly ambitious effort to impact the NYC arts and culture sector - for putting in heart, muscle and brains, and for empowering us to move ourselves and our organizations forward toward equity; and to the NYC Cultural Agenda Fund for funding this ambitious effort – and for putting out the RFP that made space for the work to happen! If there is no incentive for equity work, unfortunately, most white-dominated organizations will not do it.

We also want to thank our cohort partners at DanceNYC, ARTs East New York, and Spaceworks; as well as our coach Ellen Gurzinsky for making us work harder and laugh more.

The work is ongoing and consistent. It doesn’t end; it is iterating and shifting and growing forward.

PS. Here is full scoop on what we did and what we learned.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

July 2018 Meet Our Artists: Nicola Bullock

Our Members, Fiscally Sponsored Artists, and other program participants represent a wide range of career stages and disciplines. We love them - and, as fellow artists, we're always inspired by them. With this monthly feature, we hope you'll feel the same way!

Name: Nicola Bullock

I am…
A dance-maker, performer, teacher, and student

I’m inspired by…
The people who have come before me - back to the first humans to ever walk upright – and by the generations yet to come. I am inspired by the fact that dance has always held an important role in connecting people to themselves, each other, the world, and the cosmos. I am inspired by the endless wealth of ways that different bodies move as they seek to lead fulfilling lives.

I’m proud of…
Championing the voices of local dance-makers in Durham NC by producing shows, cofounding an organization that curates a season of dance, and working with theater companies to bridge the theater and dance communities.

My goals are…
To hear the ancient wisdom of the body; to learn how to transmit a visceral sensation to others through dancing; to adventure places outside of prescribed roles and movement patterns; and to keep a good sense of humor while at it.

How does The Field help you?
I'm excited to be a Fiscally Sponsored Artist at The Field! This allows me to fundraise and apply for grants with the backing of an incredible organization.

Any advice for fellow artists?
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” - Samuel Beckett
Click to enlarge images. Couch photo by Noah Rosenblatt-Farrell. Bullock. Mustache photo by Mayra Wallraff. Field photo and other content ©Nicola Bullock

Additional viewing: Creative Block 

To join The Field community and become eligible for a "Meet Our Artists" feature, sign up for a membership and join our mailing list for program updates!




Friday, June 1, 2018

June 2018 Meet Our Artists: André de Quadros


Our Members, Fiscally Sponsored Artists, and other program participants represent a wide range of career stages and disciplines. We love them - and, as fellow artists, we're always inspired by them. With this monthly feature, we hope you'll feel the same way!


 Name:
André de Quadros

What do you do?
Artistic Director of Common Ground Voices (CGV), an international choir project consisting of equal groups of Arabs, Israelis, and Swedes

What inspires you?
The common ground of music unites and acts as a tool for fruitful dialogue based on creativity, compassion, and respect.

What are you proud of?
In Jerusalem, we are confronted with ethnic, religious, political, and socio-economic diversity, segregation, and fragmentation. Over a five-day residency in March 2018, the singers were able to converse about the conflict, realizing the importance and platform of CGV.

The Swedish singers functioned as artistic and project partners by being able to mediate conversations. Several of the Israeli and Palestinian participants testified that CGV gave them the opportunity, for the first time, to have a fruitful dialogue with the other party, based on mutual respect.

What are your goals?

Common Ground Voices aims to form a circle of understanding in a world of differences between human beings.

Do you have any advice for your fellow artists?

Peace-building and conflict resolution takes patience.

How does The Field help you?

The Field assisted in raising money for the travel, accommodation, and food costs for the singers; providing the resources to make the 2018 March residency in Jerusalem possible.

Click to enlarge images. Content ©André de Quadros


Additional viewing:

To join The Field community and become eligible for a "Meet Our Artists" feature, sign up for a membership and join our mailing list for program updates!



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Field DC/Portland Touring Exchange

Our latest Network Touring Exchange wrapped up this Spring! Launched in 2016, this program provides the opportunity for movement-based Network Site Leaders and Fieldwork facilitators to visit another Network Site for 2-7 days of mutual capacity-building activities. Read about the 2016 Network Touring Exchange here.

This Spring we were happy to have Claire Alrich (Site Coordinator of The Field/DC; independent dance artist) and Sarah Greenbaum (Fieldwork facilitator; Dance Place Artistic & Community Program Manager) travel to Portland, Oregon from April 13-16, 2018. Here's what they reported from the field, to The Field!

------------------------------

Project Summary

The goal of this exchange was to research residency models. During the exchange we planned to meet with community leaders and organizers of art spaces that host artist residencies to research different ways feedback is incorporated into residency structures. These conversations also focused on how programs centered equity, and how equity could be enhanced.


Day-by-Day

Friday, April 13: We began our first day in Portland meeting with Subanashi (Suba) Ganesan, Creative Laureate of Portland, Portland-based dance artist, and founder of New Expressive Works (N.E.W.), a flexible use dance space in SE Portland, which hosts performances, classes, and rehearsals. We talked with Suba about N.E.W.’s residency program which incorporates three sessions of Fieldwork over its six-month session. These Fieldwork sessions are led by The Field/ Portland Site Coordinator Katherine Longstreth.

Claire Alrich, Subashini Ganesan, Sarah Greenbaum (selfie)
Next, we met with Linda K. Johnson, who shared some history of the Portland dance scene and, specifically, her role in Conduit Dance Company, which was a major force in the local, national and international dance community until it closed in 2016 after 21 years due to lack of affordable space. Linda also discussed her mentoring program Corpus, which was devised from a need in the community for continuing artistic and community development for post-graduates in the Portland area.

Saturday, April 14: Saturday morning we attended an Authentic Movement class at FLOCK, a one-room dance center in Northeast Portland with eight member-artists, each of whom pays a flat fee each month for dedicated time in the space as well as access to flexible time they can reserve week by week. Authentic Movement is one of the only regular classes the space offers; generally it is dedicated to rehearsal and workshops for its members.

After class we talked with Tahni Holt, choreographer and founder of FLOCK. Tahni shared her experience of running FLOCK as well as her motivation for starting the space; we also spoke more generally about the successes and challenges of the Portland dance community, specifically in-regards to gentrification and shifting demographics of neighborhoods.

Claire Alrich and Tahni Holt (Photo by Sarah Greenbaum)
Saturday afternoon we participated in a Fieldwork showing organized by Portland-based artists Katherine Longstreth, (The Field/ Portland Site Coordinator), and Jen Mitas (Fieldwork facilitator.) The showing took place at Performance Works NW, a church-turned-studio space run by Linda Austin, which hosts an Artist in Residence program. Several Portland-based artists, including Catherine Egan, Allie Hankins, and Michael Galen, showed their work. We shared a segment of our evening-length work, Holon!, which will premiere this July at the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, DC.

Following the showing we went out for drinks and snacks with the Fieldwork participants, getting to know each other and sharing about our respective communities.

Sunday, April 15:
We spent Sunday morning exploring the West Hills of Portland and the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Sunday evening, we returned to N.E.W. for the Artists in Residence Fieldwork showing. We watched works in progress by the four artists and participated in the feedback session, with about 30 minutes of feedback for each artist. Katherine Longstreth led the session and Suba Ganesan also attended.

Joint showing with Field/PDX and Field/DC artists (L-R) Celine Bouley, Catherine Egan, Allie Hankins, Rachael Dichter, Katherine Longstreth, Claire Alrich, Jen Mitas, Michael Galen (Photo by Sarah Greenbaum)
Monday, April 16: Monday morning we gathered at Jen Mitas’ home along with Katherine Longstreth to discuss the Fieldwork Facilitators Guide, with an eye towards shifting the guide to make Fieldwork more equitable and accessible to all. Prior to the meeting, Jen met with Suba Ganesan; Jen brought Suba’s insight to the meeting as well. We met for three hours and had a fruitful conversation, but recognize that there is much more work to do.

From there we went to Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) to meet with Erin Boberg Doughton (Artistic Director and Curator of Performance), Roya Amirsoleymani (Artistic Director and Curator of Public Engagement) and Van Pham (Development Associate). We discussed PICA’s structure, its position in a changing neighborhood and its Creative Exchange Lab, a three-week, interdisciplinary, research-based residency that takes place on site at PICA and at nearby artist retreat Caldera Arts.

We also attended the Creative Exchange Lab’s open showing at PICA, where artists shared samples of their work with the Portland community.


Takeaways & Actions

This residency provided us with ample time to learn, discuss, question, reflect and connect. The following points reflect recurring themes that surfaced during our time in Portland – important conversations that we continue to reflect on.
  • Bringing together diverse groups of people in flexible spaces 
  • Working from a scarcity vs. abundance lens as a means for creating more equitable sharing of resources 
  • How artists shift - and shift with - the changing landscape of a city 
  • The importance of holding space for process, without expectation of a product 
  • The impossibility of a “blank slate” and the need to acknowledge background/assumptions when viewing art and giving feedback.
------------------------------

To learn more about future Network Touring Exchanges or how to bring Fieldwork to your city, visit The Field Network at thefield.org.