Thursday, September 29, 2016

What Have We Discovered? Who Are We Moving Forward?

In our last blog about Field Leadership Fund, we shared what has been working with the FLF Fellowship thus far. This time around, the focus is on one Fellow’s deeper exploration of her vision for herself and how The Field’s resources have supported her journey thus far.  Another Fellow reveals how we all can perpetuate oppressive systems even when it may not be our intent.   As the hosting organization, The Field is also learning more about the role that it plays in these systems. Hopefully, all of the Fellows have learned more about themselves, their journeys, and the role they play as well. All involved must continue to find ways to take accountability for ourselves in this work. Since multiple perspectives can offer valuable insight, we feel it’s important to hear from others involved in the process. See below for a look at the Fellowship experience from the perspective of Artist Fellow, Goussy Célestin and Manager Fellow, Aya Lane

Feel free to join the conversation by sharing your thoughts.

Goussy Célestin:

9 Months. A full gestation period for human birth. 9 months of FLF; The Field Leadership Fund. I have been an FLF Artist Fellow gestating towards the birth of my vision- Ayiti Brass. These past 9 months have been filled with growth pains, beautiful discoveries, connections, with the discomfort of “labor” stumbling into possibility. The birth metaphor applies smoothly (like a baby’s skin- Hey, I couldn’t resist!). In all seriousness though, the metaphor joke holds relevance to this process I have undergone for the last 9 months.

I am a working artist, performer, teaching artist, mother, juggler of multiple things at the same time, wife, and visionary. At the point when I applied to FLF, I had turned a corner in my art-making. Though I collaborated with a few arts ensembles, and had recently garnered a new music teaching position with a prestigious arts organization, I had not yet furthered my own vision and personal artistic mission- Ayiti Brass. I felt like I did not have the time, especially being a mother to two young children, and particularly taking into account that any income I made from my art went to my children and daily living expenses. There was no money left over for me to feed my vision. But the vision didn’t die. In fact, the vision burned - like fuel. Its fire continued to blaze inside me and feed possibility.  Applying to FLF, was a moment where I made a decision to look into organizing more time for this vision. It looked like the program that would give me the support to birth this possibility into reality. In a sense, FLF has been my doula of sorts, easing me through the discomfort of not fully knowing, yet knowing. This process has both informed my creative and professional growth. I am carving out time for myself on the calendar for composing rather than trying to squeeze it in while tasking and being with kids.  I find myself advocating for my time to make art more vocally these days. Through Fieldwork, I have shared more of myself and my creative process in the company of fellow artists, moderated by Pele Bauch. Additionally, I’ve started my own blog on my website, “Musings and Meanderings”, where I am open about my process. The 24 hours of rehearsal space I received with my participation in Fieldwork has been extremely valuable - as access to affordable rehearsal space in NYC is like trying to find adequate parking in NYC. Professionally, I have developed a strong relationship with my manager, Bryan E. Glover- FLF Arts Manager Fellow. Working consistency with a manger is immensely helpful. Bryan is someone whom I can bounce ideas with, build with, and is organized and enthusiastic about my vision. We are learning and growing together, as we combine our talents within our partnership. I have FLF to thank for meeting Bryan and for pairing us up. Having a manager is huge for someone like me who has self-produced and self-financed myself into levels of burnout previously. Right now, Bryan and I are gearing up for some upcoming grant applications, and I have recently signed up with The Field to be my fiscal sponsor. I am also taking more chances and opportunities for more growth, having recently been chosen to participate in Creative Capital’s Summer Intensive for artists. Beyond this, I’ve recently been named a Gardarev Resident Fellow, where I’ll be traveling to Maine in November for a week long residency of writing/composing/arranging/choreographing. In the woods, just me and the work.  There is more to go, and more to grow, more to build. So far, this is Ayiti Brass:

Neha Gautam Photography

Aya Lane:

Since beginning the Field Leadership Fund program my understanding of the inequities and challenges within the arts sector, especially in New York, has shifted more micro to macro. Professionally, I have been given tools to expand and deepen my understanding of systematic oppression and my position within these systems, especially in regards to art sector.
The knowledge that I acquired during the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond Undoing Racism training, as well as through workshops and conversations amongst the fellows, in a facilitated way through the Field or through our own schedule meetings, has continuously encouraged me to question my own privileges. This new knowledge directly impacts and shifts the way that I engage with the artist that I manage, Eric Lockley. I have begun thinking more critically about the ways I’ve been indoctrinated with Eurocentric ways of dealing with power, communication, and how it’s impacted the way I work and am trying to dream up new ways of co-working, that are more balanced and equitable.
I’ve also had the opportunity to realize new things about my working style and how I work best. A major realization that I’ve had is that I have “collaboration brain,” a brain that seeks out other people to work with, brainstorm and get feedback at the beginning of starting new projects. I’ve also realized that I enjoy having a balance of tasks in order to feel productive. I enjoy doing large projects to work towards with clear goals/ checkpoints (an event, building a website, things that offer clear metrics), balanced with other projects that may be continuous such as maintaining social media or ongoing research.

Creatively, I am excited to have found myself in an open and loving community of artists who can relate to some of many of the obstacles that I face within in my work, and who are able to direct me to opportunities that align with my vision.

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