2012 Summer Stipend Finalists

Below are the application submissions from our finalists:

Libertad Gills

Project: Edit My Documentary Film about Communal Life in Ecuador

Goal: Six months ago, I went to live in an Ecuadorian coastal commune of 5,000 habitants in order to understand their way of life and document it visually. A commune in Ecuador is a place where the people have ancestral and historical right over the land that they own collectively as protected by the constitution. I have about 180 hours of footage, mostly consisting of daily life scenes that include a wedding, a funeral, assembly meetings, fishing, religious celebrations, the daily movement in the commune’s vibrant and colorful port, and more. I have recorded the testimonies of over 40 people in the community. I also coordinated with the children at an elementary school to create an animated stop-motion segment, illustrating a folk-tale about the founding of the town. With this documentary, I hope to show what life on a commune is like in 2012 and inspire viewers to think about their own relationships to the land, environment, and other human beings, whether they live on the coast, in the countryside, or in a big city like New York. I, myself, as someone born in Ecuador and raised in Brooklyn, was inspired to think about these things while living there and want to share that experience with the world.

Needs: The next phase of the project is post-production. I will need $3000 for the next three months to edit the film from my apartment in Quito. I have $1000 secured as a Franja Arte-Comunidad 2012 Artist in Residency and another $1000 as a Scholar Master’s student in Visual Anthropology at the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences. I need $1000 more to continue into the next phase. After editing the images, I will apply for a grant from the Ecuadorian National Film Council from which I hope to receive at least $10,000 for sound correction and mixing. With these steps I hope to reach a successful festival-run in Latin America, the United States, and abroad.

Timeline: The next three months will be focused on image editing. Then I will be applying to the Ecuadorian National Film Council in January to receive further support in the post-production phase. In March 2013 the documentary feature film will be complete and ready for international festivals.

The $1000 stipend would allow me to edit the documentary film for the next three months from my home, pay for transcribers and footage loggers, and not have to worry about securing any more funds before completing the sound mixing. Thank you for taking the time to read my application. If you would like film material to further process my application, I will happily send it to you. Otherwise, please know that your contribution will help produce a small film in which what you see and hear will be the faces and voices of people who are seldom seen and heard by both national and international media. In addition, it is my belief that this film could inspire international audiences to think about what’s truly important in their lives and how they want to relate to the people and nature around them.

Hannah Kirshner

Project: Sweets & Bitters

Goal: Sweets & Bitters Quarterly is a seasonal mini-cookbook, mailed to your door four times a year. Quarterly publications are the future of periodicals: as digital media replaces weekly, daily and even monthly publications, people want printed matter to be high-quality and beautiful enough to collect. Sweets & Bitters will be as pretty as Martha Stewart and as practical as Mark Bittman. Nothing exists quite like what I’m making.

Needs: I raised most of the money I need to print the first issue with kickstarter. Now I need to pay a copy-editor, buy ingredients to re-test recipes, and order a color proof before having the first issue printed — that’s where Macktez can help me. Any remaining funds will help with recipe development and photography of the next issue, while I build distributor and advertiser relationships to sustain ongoing production.

Timeline: We are weeks away from printing the first issue, and all the pieces are set in motion. Then we have four months to produce and distribute the next issue. I will develop recipes and editorial content in the next month, have it photographed the following month, designed in the third month, and then printed and distributed.

What’s in Sweets & Bitters Quarterly?
Each issue illustrates easy-to-follow recipes with beautifully designed photo essays. Serious cooks will find inspiration; beginners will get helpful tips and explanations of simple cooking science; and armchair chefs can eat with their eyes. Every issue focuses on pastries and cocktails tempered by wholesome everyday foods. Likewise, I balance aspirations to eat locally and seasonally with pragmatism about our busy lives and readily available ingredients.

Why Print in this Digital Age?
I pore through cookbooks for recipes to take me somewhere new or to return me somewhere familiar. My favorite cookbooks fall open to the most used pages–stained with bakers chocolate and dusty with flour. Coffee rings overlap hand-written notes scrawled in margins. Menus jotted on post-its mark pages that remind me of past dinner parties. I have others I’ve never used, but whose photographs transport me to exotic tables. Their physicality is important: they are special objects that connect me to those times and places.

Each edition of Sweets & Bitters Quarterly will be ripe for staining favorite recipes with ingredients, experiencing new dishes through lively photos, and for treasuring or gifting to anyone who loves beautiful books and good food. By publishing quarterly we can stay in touch with the seasons, keep up with food trends, and playfully write and design each issue around a different theme.

Who’s Making This?
Growing up on small family farm in Washington, I learned a deep respect for nature and agriculture by helping to cultivate vegetables and raise chickens, goats and sheep. I continued learning about food by working my way through the chain of production: harvesting herbs on an organic farm, selling specialty produce, serving farm-to-table food, baking artisan pastries and selling them at farmers markets, catering weddings, and developing and implementing craft cocktail programs. Studying painting at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) honed my attention to detail. Now I’m baker, bartender and artist in Brooklyn, where I keep chickens and grow vegetables on my rooftop. My parallel paths of art and food merged to create Sweets & Bitters Quarterly, where I share the food I love, in a beautiful print format.

Corey Mintz

Project: New York Pizza Project

Goal: We are creating a book and website featuring local pizza shops, and their customers, in NYC. More importantly, “why?” The New York Pizza Project is really a story of two things: immigrants and small business. Both are part of what makes New York great, and both are in a state of flux. By channeling these stories through a common passion of pizza, we are able to connect a large audience with the powerful testimonials we are capturing.

Needs: To finish our project we will need a limited run of high quality sample books to show to potential publishers. The cost will be $1,000 and will enable us to confidently approach publishers and agents that can take this project to new heights.

Timeline: We are 11 months from publishing. The following steps must be completed to reach the finish line:

1) Finish capturing content
2) Create sample book to shop to publishers and agents
3) Secure an agent
4) Write book proposal
5) Secure a publishing outfit
6) Finalize book layout

This is a book about pizza, but not about food. The New York Pizza Project is the work of five New Yorkers who set out to capture the stories behind the slices. Like many New Yorkers, we have a special connection to pizza, particularly to the neighborhood pizza places we grew up going to—the after school hang-out, the late-night-hole-in-the-wall, the shop where we first learned to fold a slice. We’re venturing to slice spots throughout the five boroughs, recording interviews and snapping photos. The result is a mosaic of portraits and anecdotes that highlight the unique relationship between New Yorkers, their city, and their iconic food.

Laurie Sumiye

Project: Moving Water

Goal: I am working on a single-channel video art installation using HD video on a LCD monitor framed with hand-etched glass.

Needs: I need to purchase materials: electronics, mount, glass, and tools.

Dell UltraSharp U2412M 24-inch Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor – $329.00
Peerless Industries – ST632 Universal Tilt Wall Mount – $31.48
MINI Full 1080P HD Media Player HDMI1.3/ H.264/MKV/ /DTS MINI1080P – $56.00
HDMI 2M (6 Feet) Super High Resolution Cable – $1.60
Armour Etch, 10oz.bottle – $15.99
Glass Sheets 16” x 20” (6) – $3.49 / sheet – $20.94
Glass Etching Kit/Tools – $14.95
Misc Hardware – $ 5
SUBTOTAL – $474.96
Shipping & Tax (estimate) – $100
TOTAL – $574.96

Timeline: I expect it will take 2-3 weeks. The video components are finished. I need to make the etched glass panel, put together glass box/frame, and finally assemble and mount physical display components.

Moving Water is a silent contemplation observing bodies of water and light. I travelled through Europe this past year, documenting small and large bodies of fresh water. I envision displaying the digital videos in a custom-designed box of etched glass with hand-drawn patterns. The video lightbox will be similar to commercial large-format lightboxes, except it will have an LCD monitor behind the glass mounted on a wall. The effect will be like a moving painting crossed with a backlit window; diffused, light, slow moving images of water.

Dee Dee Vega

Project: We Never Sleep: An Original Musical Composition by Dee Dee Vega and Amour Obscur

Goal: We Never Sleep is Amour Obscur’s first, full-length, original album. Amour Obscur is a Brooklyn-based gypsy punk band that offers a theatrical performance that draws from the striking visual aesthetics of the Weimar cabaret and American sideshow. Mixing unique instrumentation—vocals, accordion, upright bass, trombone, trumpet, mandolin, tenor banjo and percussion—and original composition that draws upon such eclectic influences as traditional Romani music, Kurt Weill, Americana, and klezmer…to contemporary dance music.

We Never Sleep will serve as a tangible record of the artistic work developed in our live performances. Music is experienced, felt. Unlike in the visual arts, with the exception of work conceived using digital media, there is an “original” object, as referenced by Walter Benjamin in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, that serves as a monolithic and singular physical entity. Music is unique in that it is a series of happenings, live events, interpretations, vibrations, repetitions and is experienced through visual, aural and kinetic senses. In the case of We Never Sleep, it will be an opportunity for Amour Obscur to share the result of hundreds of hours of composition and live performance that evolved from our musical concepts in the form of a record, an object as such.

Moreover, on the most pragmatic level, for a live band, the creation of an album is the next step towards the development of a more significant artistic identity that leads to a wider audience and increased ability to play worldwide. All of a sudden, you have a item to leave with audience members as well as something with which to approach booking agencies and other music entities.

Needs: Presently, the album has been completely composed, orchestrated and tracked, meaning all recording has been complete. The next step is mixing and mastering, followed by final album artwork and pressing. The mixing is being completed by producer Vic Thrill (formerly of the legendary band The Bogmen) at the Brooklyn Vivarium. The mixing process will cost approximately another 1000.00-1500.00.

Timeline: With funding place, the entire album could be finished by September of 2012. The finished product, after pressing, would be available within weeks. The 1000.00 offered by this stipend could literally put us across the finish line to have our project complete coupled with the diligent fund raising efforts the band is already enacting such as a benefit concert at the famous venue helmed by Gogol Bordello, Mehanata, on July 28th, 2012.

We Never Sleep is completely a unique endeavor in terms of contemporary underground music. In each song, we aimed to create a style and lyrics that both reference our artistic lineage in American history and reflect our contemporary experience as artists. For example, the track from which the name We Never Sleep is derived is about the Pinkertons, the notorious “detective agency,” considered hired thugs at best and dishonest mercenaries, during the American 1850s and 60s. (“We Never Sleep” was emblazoned on their logo above an all-seeing eye, not a reference to the fact that we endlessly bust our asses to make our art!) At the time, the Pinkertons were feared for their size, power and influence, specifically, that they could be employed as an army for hire by private interests to undermine government and disenfranchise citizens. When I wrote the lyrics for this song, I was specifically influenced by the Blackwater scandal emerging in Iraq which was being heavily covered in the media at the time and how we had recreated such an entity with no insight into our history.

Another track, “The Band Drinks for Free”, is a more personal song about the experience of musicians on the road and their struggle with poverty in the face of the desire to make art. The song appropriates imagery from the Great Depression as well as a harmonic minor scale reflecting the musical style of nomadic gypsies re-appropriated for modern times.

“Berlin Your Dance Partner is Death” is derived from my experiences living in Berlin and of the sexual underground. “Berlin Your Dance Partner is Death” was a public health poster seen in the city of Berlin during the Weimar Republic meant to deter people from having intercourse as syphilis was rampant and deadly. We created a sound for this song not derived from German cabaret, but influenced by hot New Orleans-style jazz to establish a resonance with our experiences as Americans and the musical feeling of sexual danger.

The album consists of thirteen tracks each with a unique sound and concept. One reason I believe Amour Obscur to be ultimately worthy of this stipend is because for us, 1000.00 truly means something. Our band members, despite having experienced actual hunger, homelessness at times, and families without the financial capacity to support our artistic visions, have persevered in becoming individual musicians, most of us self-taught, who have risen to the top of the New York music scene and have played for audiences around the world. Our success is a testament to what incredibly hard work, determination and cheap whiskey can do. We hope to receive this stipend help to deliver all of this hard work and art to New York and the world.

Sarah Nelson Wright

Project: The Newton Creek Armada

Goal: We are creating a model boat pond on the Newtown Creek, an active industrial canal with a long, rich and troubled history. The creek is located off the East River between Brooklyn and Queens, bordering Bushwick, Greenpoint, Long Island City and Maspeth. It is one of America’s most polluted waterways, and is home to the second largest oil spill in US history. The EPA recently designated it as a Superfund site and is supervising a massive cleanup effort, so public access to the creek is currently limited. The Newtown Creek Armada is a public art project that allows visitors to safely explore the creek and engage with its rich history. The project is a model boat pond on the shores of the Newtown Creek, launching on weekends in September 2012. Using artifacts, debris and natural elements collected along the banks of the creek, we have crafted a fleet designed to navigate and document some of the most contaminated and inaccessible areas of this waterway. The Armada will take place at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, where visitors will pilot miniature, radio-controlled boats, each equipped with an underwater video camera to record the hidden world beneath the surface. The artists creating the project are Laura Chipley, Nathan Kensinger & Sarah Nelson Wright.

Needs: We need to provide on site video installations of other parts of the creek, so that people will understand the complex environmental issues at play. We have shot three videos of areas of the creek that are not accessible to the public except by boat, and which most people will never see. This footage captures sewage overflows, oil slicks and scenes of fragile interplay between the natural and industrial world. We plan to install these videos at the boat pond site freestanding portholes, so visitors can gaze into a circular tube and be virtually transported to a remote area of the creek. However, we do not currently have funding to realize this essential piece of our project. We would need to purchase three portable DVD players with screens, three large HVAC pipes, and three HVAC pipe joints, plus supplies to put them together and disguise the players, totaling just under $1000.

Timeline: We will launch the project on September 8th. The videos are shot and in the final stages of editing. If we can build the portholes in August, we can show them at the creek at The Newtown Creek Armada boat ponds events on weekends in September. The design is very straightforward and we have a professional fabricator who is consulting with us pro bono.

The Newtown Creek Armada is an interactive installation in which a model boat pond will be created on the Newtown Creek, one of America’s most polluted waterways. Visitors will be invited to pilot a fleet of handcrafted, miniature, radio-controlled boats along the creek’s surface while at the same time documenting the world hidden beneath the water. Each boat in the Armada will be equipped with an underwater camera, allowing participants to record a unique voyage on the creek. Video from underwater explorations will be on view at the project location, giving visitors a chance to virtually immerse themselves in the toxic waters of this Superfund site. The project is a collaboration between Laura Chipley, Nathan Kensinger and Sarah Nelson Wright.

[Thanks for this opportunity, which we found out about through our friend Mary Jeys!]