2013 Summer Stipend Finalists Announced

Below are the application submissions from our finalists, currently being reviewed by our Summer Stipend Panelists:

Andrew Ellis


Project: Oakland: New Urban Eating

Goal: I am writing a cookbook entitled Oakland: New Urban Eating which documents the growing food scene in Oakland. The book will be a compilation of stories from restaurant owners, artisans and food justice organizations in Oakland, along with recipes. I began this project in August 2012 and was especially interested in pursuing a project of personal interest that would allow me to sharpen my skills in storytelling. My background in culinary arts, ethnographic research, documentary photography and graphic design led me to the concept of this project. We plan to finish in May 2014. The project has been met with great enthusiasm in the community and was featured in the East Bay Express and Oakland Local.

Needs: At the moment, we are planning on self-publishing Oakland: New Urban Eating. Here are the costs:

Recipe Testing: $1,400
Developmental Editing: $3,000
Copyediting: $900
Design: $3,500
ISBN: $250
Printing: TBD (print-on-demand)

Total: $9,050

Timeline: We plan to finish the interview process in September, test/photograph recipes and write chef stories until February, edit and design until May 2014.

We would use the Macktez Stipend to cover the cost of testing recipes. These initial funds will help us create accurate recipes and therefore, more descriptive stories about the chefs and their food.

New Urban Eating documents Oakland’s dynamic culinary landscape as it attains national and global prominence. Flanked by the more established culinary meccas of Berkeley and San Francisco, Oakland has emerged as a destination for pioneering restaurants, food artisans, world-class farmer’s markets, and lively food festivals.

Using an ethnographic methodology, we’ll investigate the vibrant culture that has developed around the gathering, preparation, and enjoyment of food in Oakland. Recipes will be collected from artisans, notable chefs, and influential community members across Oakland’s diverse community who are taking part in fueling this food renaissance. Throughout Oakland: New Urban Eating, we’ll talk with urban farmers, kitchen incubators, community-based food programs, and food foragers where we’ll uncover tips from creating your own raised garden bed in an abandoned lot to foraging for crab in the East Bay.

For additional information, visit New Urban Eating’s website.

Caroline Losneck


Project: Hooked: An Elver Eel Story — A public installation celebrating the myths, culture and folks behind the elver fishery in Maine.

Goal: Hooked: An Elver Eel Story is a collaboration by sound artist Caroline Losneck and filmmaker Christoph Gelfand of True Life Media. We are trying to create a beautiful, mysterious, and illuminating one-time, live, outdoor, public, interactive installation about one slice of the elver (baby eel) fishery in Maine. Our story is a documentation (audio, still photographs) of the 2013 elver season through the eyes of fishermen who live, breathe, sleep and eat this industry for the 10 week-elver season. This year was particularly significant to the fishermen because the cost of baby elvers climbed from a low of $25 per pound to up to a whopping $2000 a pound – leading many people to call it a “gold rush.” The eels in Maine are, amazingly, flown overnight to Asia where they are grown in farms to full maturity before being sold to buyers who are trying to satisfy an insatiable demand for unagi sushi. Despite making more money from their fishery than usual, the fishermen were feeling pressures: What if the season doesn’t produce? What if the price drops? What if the eels were over harvested last year during the elver gold rush? What if my wife cannot take me working this crazy schedule determined by the tides? What if the State of Maine declares the elvers endangered and bans fishing?

We started work on this project about a month prior to the official start of elver season in Maine (May) and we expect to be done with it as soon as we complete the installation in early Fall 2013. At the beginning, it was a lot of research and development. We read books, newspaper articles, and anything we could get our hands on about baby eels and the fishery in Maine and worldwide. We narrowed our focus and obtained lists of elver license holders in Maine to begin to reach out to potential subjects. We walked along the working waterfront in Portland, Maine to talk with the men and women who might be able to shed light on the mysterious and secretive elver industry. We spent 4 hours, early on, listening to a live-stream of a hearing about elver industry, taking notes, writing down questions and more potential subjects. We did our research and were able to find our subjects – luckily, they were open, honest and kind fishermen who were willing to share their stories, knowledge, fears and dreams with us.

We followed a core group of fishermen for the entire season, recording the highs and lows, in the middle of the night and in the pre-dawn hours, talking about everything from eel ecology, to money, to their relationships with their wives and children and to each other. Our story is character driven, steering away from hard science, depicting the season through the eyes of the people most impacted by the fishery.

The baby eel fishery is shrouded in mystery, myth, intrigue and natural rhythms. Even the head state biologist told us that no one fully understands the life cycle of the eel (it spawns somewhere near the Sargasso Sea and thus far has managed to escape ever being caught pregnant). The clear, thread-like, baby glass eels miraculously find their way up the east coast of the US, where every spring -lured by warming river waters and just the right amount of moonlight and tide – they make their way up into streams. Our lead fishermen prepare all year for the elver season, and they also make their own nets, devise their own plans, and build relationships based on tides, trust, and shared meals.

In our installation, we don’t hope to unravel all of the mysteries of the elver industry, so much as expose the humanity and mythology behind the elver fishery. We intend to have our two lead fishermen participate in the installation: Tim LaRochelle, a fishermen and natural storyteller, will share his (tall) tales while Mike Murphy, lobsterman and elver fishermen, will show us how he makes nets and sets fyke nets in the river. The installation will be along the riverbank of the Presumpscot River in Southern Maine, where Mike and Tim have fished, as partners, for the last 13 years. People will be able to walk the trail, hear produced audio pieces from the season, talk live with Tim, and watch Mike. We also imagine a canoe transporting people down the river to select stops where they can interact with the elver fishermen, or recorded audio. We feel that the elver fishery is a window into a world that people don’t have much of a chance to be exposed to. The fact that this fishery, like others, is rooted in Maine, but so intimately connected to the global economy is both intriguing and of concern. In completing the installation, we hope to peel back a layer on a world that exists so near to so many of us – along all the rivers in Maine for the 10-week long elver season.

As artists, we greatly enjoy brining “art” out into the field, or stream, in our case. We love the idea of bringing gallery-going city folk out onto the Presumpscot River bank for an evening of myth, science, experimental audio, and fishermen’s tall tales. We want to bring people out of Portland, and show off the natural beauty of the river area with the beauty or the produced sound pieces and the knowledge of the fishermen. We feel like we were “allowed” to enter a secret world (cult?) of elver fishermen, and we want to be able to share it with others in a way that they might not expect. We see the installation as a form of creative placemaking, where we can work in collaboration with the local non Profit Portland Trails to secure use of their trail system, invite the public, and allow the fishermen to interact with our produced audio, as well as with the public.

Needs: The $1000 will be used to finish up the audio production work, build a simple website to post audio, visuals, and information about the event, and to hire someone to help us make it all happen in an outdoor setting along the riverbank. We’d also be able to rent speakers and audio equipment that we don’t have but need for the installation.

We will edit raw audio into 3-5 produced pieces. We need to figure out how to project large images outdoors and rent speakers ($300-500) that will allow us to broadcast audio outdoors along a nature trail and along a riverbank. We need to hire someone to help figure out the audio installation part of the project (for instance, do we put the speakers on trees? Ho do we power the audio?) We need to gain key permissions (free, but takes time!) We need to send press releases, print postcards, set up a website for the project ($600).

As a passion project, we’ve already contributed $575 of our own funds: $125 for a Premium DropBox Account, $50 for a registered domain name, $200 for Transportation/Gas, $100 to hire an audio person to assist in recording a public hearing in Maine’s capital, Augusta, with the Department of Marine Resources and elver fishermen, and $100 for batteries, equipment (dead cat) and supplies.

Without the Macktez Summer Stipend, we’d continue to fund our project in fits and starts, as we’ve done since the beginning. We’re dedicated to finishing the project and the Macktez Stipend would give us more immediate and dedicated breathing room to do so.

Timeline: We’d like to installation to take place in early Fall 2013. The steps to get there include:

1. Obtain permission to use Portland Trails (a non profit land trust) land near the Presumpscot River for the installation. Portland Trails is a non-profit that has interests in creative placemaking initiatives and I’d love to make connections with them where artists collaborate with them to make events, places and spaces come alive thru the arts.
2. Confirm the participation of our 2 key fishermen and perhaps more, if they are willing.
3. Complete (edit) 2-3 original experimental audio pieces – which will be played outdoors at the installation but also able to air as stand-alone audio pieces on the radio/website.
4. Ideally, set up a website to post the audio-visuals, along with a date for the installation.
5. Rent large outdoor screen onto which we can project our images.
6. Write and send press releases/social media releases.
7. Hold installation event.

Hooked: An Elver Eel Story will occur for one night along the banks of the Presumpscot River in Fall 2013 and will feature original audio visuals, live music, two elver fishermen, a trail walk, and a canoe ride. Hooked is a documentation of the 2013 elver eel industry, a snapshot of a particular place and time in Maine –and in the fishermen’ lives.

Additional photos for this endeavor can be found on Caroline’s blog, here and here.

Caroline Losneck and Christoph Gelfand are also collaborating on 3 short experimental films about buildings about to be demolished in Portland, Maine. The first in the Buildings Lost series is called American Can Factory (2013).

Cat Tyc


Project: SWAP

Goal: I am building an interactive essay documentary about the need for consumers to push for ethical practices in clothing/textile production.

I came to this subject as a clothing swapper that was interested in discussing exchange but came to meet several sustainable fashion activists who informed me of the deeper issues (environmental, labor issues) inherent to clothing production due to the popularity of ‘fast fashion’ stores like Zara and H&M. Once I knew the facts, I felt frustrated that people around me were not exhibiting the same mindfulness to their clothing consumption that they were investing in their food consumption.

Since the most recent tragedy in Bangladesh in April (where 1,129 workers were killed in a garment factory collapse), I have seen the issue expand to the Made in US movement vs. the mutual dependency between the US and third world countries to produce our clothing there. I am interested in how this connects to our unemployment rates as well as how the Do-It-Yourself ethos has entered the mainstream due to the crafting phenomena and self employed vintage sellers who have created their own industry in response due to lack of steady work in other realms.

This directly connects to me because the DIY philosophy is inherent to the way I choose to live my life and why I make art. I am concerned about the future for myself and the people in my life and my inspiration is seeing so many people step up for themselves to create careers in the face of all that is working against us economically.

Right now I am interested in creating a platform that extends beyond what people typically think about in regards to sustainable fashion (environment, sweatshops) to instigate conversation about the value of the garment industry returning to the US as well as the value of entrepreneurship redefining expectations of success. My hope is by approaching the issue with this perspective, it might help people connect to this issue in a personal way so they will care a little more about their clothing consumption.

This September, I will be presenting the first of this documentary series and interviewing people about their consumption during NY Fashion Week at two events, one at the Textile Art Center in Manhattan and the other at the Momenta Gallery in Williamsburg.

Needs: Right now, the biggest commodity for this project is time. I need to finish building the interactive site I have been building on Creativist that tells this story with text, video and audio. I have spent close to $10,000 producing the video portion of this project on my own. This includes equipment, travel costs and the hiring of occasional assistance.

At this point, $1000 would allow me to devote the month I need to building the site in time for the events in September. Without the stipend, I can do it if I lower my expectations of what I can present by that time.

Timeline: I have been researching and shooting video for this project for close to four years. I have to be done with these first two sections, “It Starts With You” focused on personal responsibility and “How I Learned How to Be an Activist & Not Hate It” by mid September for the events I mentioned above. Then I will present these sections as well as reactions from the event for further development and funding to integrate into one full site to be finished by June of next year.

SWAP is an interactive documentary project about the consumer’s role in the sustainable fashion movement. It is inspired by internet projects like “Learning to Love You More” by Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher.

There is a lot of movement within the fashion industry to make production more environmentally safe and ethical towards its workers but the situation is complex. Movement towards legislation is in the works but moves slowly. In the mean time, businesses don’t want to change their production practices for fear of getting off the competitive track so there is only talk, and never any action. The average consumer only knows about the most surface issues (sweatshops, factory fires) but nothing about how denim jeans are probably the most harmful types of garment created, as one example. Once the facts get laid out, it can be overwhelming and also disappointing to hear especially for those who put a lot of emotional baggage into their clothing purchases.

At a time when mindless consumption is being dissected, it feels necessary to shed some light on that aspect to make the hard facts accessible so the audience will care enough to be mindful when next they purchase clothing, but I believe that can only work if they feel cared about. My goal is to utilize peer to peer lateral communication so multiple dialogues can happen: between consumer & industry, consumer and their closet, as well as across communities, activists and swappers, knitters and weekend seamstresses, independent designers in the start up phase so they can start educating and collaborating with each other more through web documentaries that invite commentary and individuals to contribute images, videos and commentary to the dialogue.

Visit the mock-up of the SWAP’s final website here.

Ella Nuortila


Project: SIX

Goal: SIX is a short film that deals with the issue of gun control – told through the story of a young boy who finds a gun on a roof. The story of SIX is fictional, but is inspired by many true stories and situations happening every day in America.

The film has been in the making for more than a year and it’s a true passion project for all the young, talented filmmakers who are involved. As a producer of the project I feel that this small movie can make a difference and be part of a bigger conversation around gun-control. More importantly, it is a beautiful, exciting, entertaining, unique and touching story, reaching audiences that might normally turn away. The importance of telling stories about topical issues in films is that they can be told in such relatable way, through characters that we all feel for, no matter what our take is on the issues themselves. SIX also can be seen and interpreted in many different ways.

Everybody on this project has worked extremely hard since the spring of 2012. We simply can not wait to get this movie out to the world as we know it will be amazing.

Please take a look at our teaser, as well as the small pitch video we did for our fundraising campaign.

Needs: To finish our project we need to edit, color correct and do a sound-mix for the footage we have shot. All of this would usually cost hundreds of dollars per hour, but because our editor works for free, we only need to pay for some travel costs, hard drives and some studio time at a real post-production facility for the final touches. We would also need to make DVDs in order to submit the project to festivals.

2 x 1TB Hard Drives – $450.00
DVD printing with cover art – $240.00
5 hours at post production studio – $400.00

Timeline: We are filming SIX on the 11th, 12th and 13th of July.
After that we will be editing, color correcting and mixing sound and music for 6 weeks.

Specific steps to help us reach the finish line:
To have hard drives for backing up our project during editing
To be able to use a post production facility for final polishing
To be able to make DVD copies of the final film

Additional images and information can be found here

Toby Lee

Composite diptych

Project: Composite

Goal: I am creating a mixed media installation (multi-channel video and prints) that takes as its starting point the police composite sketch. The project experiments with the composite sketching process in order to explore the relationship between visuality and memory in our knowledge of ourselves and others. The installation will be part of a group exhibit in Patras, Greece (9/1/13-10/31/13) organized by Art in Progress, a non-profit arts organization.

Needs: At the moment I am editing the video and working with a printmaker to have prints made of the drawings. The prints (a small edition of each drawing) will cost about $800 to produce. In addition, I will be hiring someone to finish the sound mix for the videos; although I’ve managed to negotiate a discounted price, I still estimate that this will cost over $600. Finally, because the project is being shown in the context of a show organized by a non-profit arts organization in Greece, I also expect to contribute to covering the exhibition/installation costs.

Timeline: The piece will be finished by the end of August, which is when it will be installed in the Art in Progress show in Greece. I will finish editing the three-channel video by August 10, after which I will begin working with the sound engineer on the sound mix; this should take no more than 2 weeks to complete. I have begun working with the printmaker and expect the prints to be ready in the first week of August. I am also working with the curator of the show to finalize plans for the final installation and the equipment needed.

Composite is a multi-channel video installation that investigates the connections between language, visuality and memory in our most intimate relationships, through the prism of the police composite sketch.

In a sparse studio setting, a professional sketch artist works with selected individuals to produce drawings of faces. But unlike standard police sketches, which attempt to bring an unknown identity to light, each interviewee in this case is asked to describe the face of someone close to them. A man describes his wife of 50 years; a young boy describes his mother; a woman, her deceased father; identical twins, each other; a blind man, his own face.

Composite aims to show how, through the sketching process, interviewees come to reconsider the people and relationships they take most for granted. As familiar faces emerge de-familiarized in the artist’s rendering, we are challenged to distinguish between the different registers of how we know our loved ones – physically, emotionally, rationally – and, by extension, how we understand ourselves in relation to those closest to us.

Working closely with an NYPD sketch artist and selected interviewees, I captured each interview session on video. In the installation, the multiple channels of video (one channel per interview) will attend alternately to the interviewees’ faces, their gestures and body language, the interactions between interviewee and sketch artist, and the drawing process. The videos will be juxtaposed to the drawings themselves, in their final form.

I first began working on Composite as a Harvard Film Study Center Fellow in 2011; shooting was completed in 2012. For the exhibit in Greece, I will show three of the interviews that were conducted, together with the three drawings produced in those interviews. In future iterations, the installation will include all six interviews and drawings.

See additional images here.