Friday, February 1, 2019

February 2019 Meet Our Artists: Theresa Ruth Howard

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: Theresa Ruth Howard

What do you do? 
I work as a Diversity Strategist and consultant assisting arts organizations better understand, design and implement DEI programs and initiatives. Pacific Northwest Ballet invited me to curate and facilitate a Townhall gathering entitled Beyond Ballet, a conversation investigating aesthetics, diversity, equity, and the efforts to redesign arts institutions. Presently I serve as a member of the Design and Facilitation Team on The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet, a three-year partnership program to support the advancement of racial equity in professional ballet companies. The Equity Project brings together a cohort of artistic and executive leaders from 21 large budget, professional ballet organizations for in-person meetings and coaching, with the purpose of increasing the presence of Blacks in ballet in all areas of the industry.

I am also the Founder & Curator of MoBBallet. MoBBallet preserves and presents the contributions of Blacks in ballet globally. MoBBallet’s inaugural project was a partnership with the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) organizing of the first annual audition for Black female ballet dancers at their 2015 conference in Denver. I helped facilitate the dialogue on diversity in ballet with the 15 major ballet organizations in participation.

In addition to MoBB’s online initiative to curate the stories of Black Ballet artists internationally, it presents panels, workshops and gatherings dedicated to building bridges of understanding and education between communities and cultures in dance and beyond. MoBBallet’s "DO YOU KNOW..." social media campaign introduces followers to Black ballet dancers and accomplishments that are not widely known in an effort broaden the awareness of the contribution of Blacks in ballet.

Follow @mobballet on Instagram

What inspires you?
We are inspired by the artists we advocate for. Bringing the legacy of Blacks in ballet out of the shadows and shining light on their virtuosity in the form is thrilling!

What are you proud of?

MoBBallet is proud that in the short time we have been in existence we have made an impact. We have forged relationships with large ballet organizations and have a seat at the table in discussions of diversity and inclusion – and we hope to encourage EQUITY.

What are your goals?
MoBBallet is working to bring forth more stories from the artist's mouths. We are working to have artist's pages for EVERY one of the 327 (so far) dancers on our Roll Call from which we aspire to build a mentoring program. There is work to be done!

Do you have any advice for your fellow artists?
We encourage all brown ballet artists to keep making stories for MoBBallet to tell. We are here to support and document your successes and will advocate for you every step of the way.

How does The Field help you?

The Field has been essential to our growth, and has provided guidance and support in our foundational moments. Thank you for your support.

All content © Theresa Ruth Howard / MoBBallet

Additional Viewing:
IABD's First Annual Audition for Women of Color HD

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A Fond Farewell and a Warm Welcome

This winter marks a time of big changes in The Field's esteemed Board of Directors. First:

Jane Comfort (center) performs with Sponsored Artist Geoff Sobelle (left) for a November 2018 special event honoring James McLaren (foreground, right). Photo by Ian Douglas.

20 Years! THANK YOU JANE COMFORT! 

For 20 years choreographer Jane Comfort transformed The Field and our Board of Directors with her wit, smarts and generosity. As a stalwart Board Member Jane connected us with many other artists, thinkers, and new Board members.

From hosting huge dinner parties at her stunning loft to always pushing us to stay true to our radical roots, Jane's heart and soul kept our Board of Directors moving forward. As Jane told us, "I am deeply proud to have served them."

Jane, we are deeply proud that you graced us for 20 years.

Say hello to Rachel!

Stepping up to the plate in Jane's absence is Rachel Erickson Hee. A mother of two children, Rachel is yet another mover-and-shaker: enjoying nights out at the ballet, as well as taking ballroom dance and ballet classes herself.

Rachel comes to us by way of Board Co-Chair Alice de Callata├┐, replacing Asit (Sunny) Mehra and Devon Mosley as the newest face on our Board of Directors.

Please join us in welcoming Rachel to The Field!

Friday, January 11, 2019

January 2019 Meet Our Artists: Melanie Greene

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: Melanie Greene

What do you do?
Choreographer & Performer (Methods of Perception), Writer, Podcast Host

What inspires you?

I'm inspired by strength, power, love, and vulnerability. I create dance works to tell non-fiction fantasies and superwoman truths.

Photo by Larry Rosalez
What are you proud of?
I'm proud of my perseverance. I receive a lot of no(s), but the yes(es) continue to shift my perspectives and career exponentially. Receiving one yes in a sea of no gives me strength.

Recently, I've moved forward on two major projects that feel very risky. I'm in a very vulnerable space. Nonetheless, being overcome with fear and not pushing these projects forward never felt like an option. So, we will see!

I have 6 grant/residency applications, a book proposal, and a desire for funding for an upcoming project out in the world. A couple of no(s) have trickled in, yet I remain hopeful that a yes is on the way.

What are your goals?
My primary goal is to build a sustainable platform for my art-making through commissions, residencies, performances, panels, and writing. It's also my goal to advocate for artists to recognize their power and push against racist and inequitable practices that continue to prop up non-profit arts institutions.

Do you have any advice for your fellow artists?
Drink plenty of water, there is work to do.

How does The Field help you?

The Field offers a centralized platform to support visibility, community, and fiscal sponsorship.


Photo by Ian Douglas
Photo by Bogliasco Foundation

Photo by Bogliasco Foundation

Photo by Scott Shaw
All content © Melanie Greene / Methods of Perception

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!

Monday, December 17, 2018

December 2018 Meet Our Artists: Pamela Kerpius

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: Pamela Kerpius

What do you do? I am the founder of the humanitarian storytelling organization, Migrants of the Mediterranean. It is a historical storybank of migrant journey stories aimed at bringing humanity back to what has mostly been called a political crisis in the Central Mediterranean. I write their stories so they don’t get lost. I write their stories so there is a historical record. I write for each migrant I meet so they can be seen as a person, not as a faceless figure on an inflatable boat or as a statistic in a newspaper.

 
What are you proud of? Reuniting with someone I have interviewed. There’s something unsure in an encounter with a stranger, and in my case, with migrants I meet just briefly on the island of Lampedusa. I never know if I’ll see them again. I share my contact information with each person I interview for their journey story, but it is up to them to stay in touch.

The truth is, I hear from many people almost immediately after they gain access to a mobile phone. But it is never short of a surprise when I finally find them in-person again in those new transfer towns and cities during their asylum proceedings. It seems like a thing of magic that you would find such a special person again after they have endured so much; so much in our individual lives diverge. And yet, there we are together. To find someone months or a year after that very fragile first meeting on the island––where maybe it has just been hours or days since they were rescued at sea––is a moment of magic. I am proud to have shared so many warm moments like these with the people who deserve it most.


What inspires you? People. I am fascinated by where people are from in a general sense. "Where are you from?" is a fundamental question I ask of anyone new I meet.

For the work and writing of Migrants of the Mediterranean, this question becomes crucial. It reveals the first layers of a migrant’s identity in a space where they are otherwise given one as an “invader,” a stereotype migrants suffer by many people right now in Italy, Europe, and also here in the US. When I ask that question to migrants as I meet them, their eyes light up. They feel a sense of dignity and pride, and they are reconnected to the humanity that each of them has had stripped away during the course of their journeys, and especially while they were trapped in Libya, tortured and enslaved.

Finding out where people are from opens us to the world. I am from New York City, and suddenly I have a sense of West African, East African, and Middle-Eastern identity. People have brought that to me so that I can bring it to you.


 

What are your goals? The goal in the end is to diminish fear of the other and to really learn to see people. In a lofty sense, the goal is to spread an eagerness to understand humanity, to seek it out. It seems to me all the answers to our problems are there. You can learn a lot by looking into a stranger’s eyes, and it is almost always divergent of what motivates us in the course of the average daily grind.

But to be more precise, the goal is to document the fragile journey stories of the people who have made the crossing through the Sahara desert, Libya, and then the treacherous Mediterranean Sea––to create a historical document. The people who have done this have a perspective on the world that practically all of us will never know. They cannot unsee the things that have been inflicted upon them. They will never wake up to a day that does not reintroduce moments of terror from that journey in their mind’s eye. This is quite something. Each person who did this continues living with that normalcy, and it is not normal; none of what they suffered is okay.

I would like to bring these stories to light, because in doing that people are able to see their pain and be relieved of it through the act of sharing it, not just with me––but with us, the listeners, who are their neighbors in fact. That pain is something we can share together. It creates empathy and understanding, of course, but just as important, it brings to light the textural history of their lives that we need to know so that we can live together better. We are here together. We have to learn to do that with softness and understanding. With these stories, I can inform people in the media, the arts, in public policy and in academia. These are the influencers who will create the foundation of how we live going forward, and who will help us articulate what we value. To be able to share the concrete details of a migrant's journey and their current quality of life after arrival is an incredibly rich source from which to work in order to create that. The truth is in there.

Of course, I also plan to write a memoir––so there are many goals in the works!



Do you have any advice for your fellow artists? You must trust your gut. Migrants of the Mediterranean is still a new and fledging organization, so it is with a bit of hesitancy that I answer this. But one thing is quite clear to me as I continue the work and writing of these journey stories, reunion stories, and the personal essay writing that accompanies it all, which is that to be successful, you have to believe in the thing you are doing. You have to trust your gut and go.

I have a background in academic film history, and then professionally in advertising. If you look at that alone there would be no reason to think I should be meeting and then writing about migrants from the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and then doing it as a document of one of the most fraught moments in world history. But the moment I saw what was in front of me, I acted. There was no plan, no structure, not even a website at first; but I knew what I witnessed was bigger than my singular life, and without any pause I gave voice to it. I trusted my gut. It remains the first thing I have to go on, and it is right.



How does The Field help you? I am eternally thankful for an organization like The Field, because it gives me an opportunity to function as business at a time when it is administratively and fiscally impossible for Migrants of the Mediterranean to do so on its own. One of the biggest incentives for donors is to be able to receive a tax deduction for their contribution––and the process of providing that is not a simple one! That The Field does this on my behalf while at the same time supporting my vision helps me immensely.

It helps me stay financially afloat, it encourages donations to help me reach my next goal, and it ensures my incredibly generous donors will get the tax breaks they deserve. I thank The Field so much for their representation.



Click to enlarge images.
All content © Pamela Kerpius / Migrants of the Mediterranean

Additional Viewing:
 Migrants of the Mediterranean

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

November 2018 Meet Our Artists: Candice Segarra

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: Candice Segarra

What do you do?
Choreographer, Poet, Director of Segarra Dance Theatre Projects

What are you proud of?
I am proud of being able to evolve my work from where I began years ago as a choreographer. I am definitely not the same person or artist I was back then when I first started. I am much freer in terms of dance-making and more out of my head. I am proud of getting my dance collective into major dance festivals and showcases that I never thought my work would qualify for, sometimes I can be my own worst critic. I'm proud of being able to afford rehearsal space so far in my choreographic career although it has been super challenging and my wallet is falling short now; the more my company's opportunities grow. It's fascinating to see your hard work cultivate into something bigger than yourself! I'm also super proud of my dancers and other artists who collaborate with me and give me their time and energy to grow our company.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by hard-working fellow artists of any kind that make a living creating and inspiring others. I love colors and the complexity of human emotions and thoughts; they really intrigue me. My environment and nature inspires the way I think and create and human relationships inspire me to write. My work is based on these concepts as well as how society's treatment of certain classes and races- these really ignite the ideas in my mind and transform them into my artwork.

What are your goals?
I have so many goals! For my company, I aspire to take my company in a tour nationally and maybe even perform internationally if possible. I also hope to have our own full-length evening show where we showcase our repertoire at a NYC venue within the next year!

Do you have any advice for your fellow artists?
I wish someone had told me how hard it was going to be to be a professional dancer and a professional choreographer growing your own company in these times. It's hard! But if art – whether it’s music, dance, theatre, or visual – is what you truly love to do, it is totally worth it to be at times, broke, hungry, exhausted and stressed out. We only got one life, so we have to do what we absolutely love to do.

How does The Field help you?

Since I'm new to The Field, I am excited to see what we can do together. I am very much looking forward to receiving help with fundraising and grantwriting and to see how much my collective will grow under the sponsorship of The Field.


Click to enlarge images.

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!



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

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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!