2016 Summer Stipend Finalists Announced

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

Nelly Bonilla

Project: The Great Divide


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Goal: We were recently introduced to Courtney Levine, the representative of Art for Amnesty Miami Chapter. She is organizing an exhibition at the gallery Art Bastion in Wynwood on August 12, which will bring awareness and discussion of human rights and social justices issues to members of the community through art.

The treatment of refugees has always been filled with complex issues and laws that seem to fog the instinctual nature of helping those in need. To highlight this ever-growing problem we envision a large 15 foot vortex like structure made of overlapping pages from law books.

Upon entering the gallery we will provide the viewer a pre-determined pass that will be used as a passport that can grant or deny them access to the inside of the vortex. A guard/doorman actor in proper attire will be placed at the entrance of the vortex and will check each pass.

If allowed inside, the viewer will follow a tight winding path to the center of the vortex. There they will experience a 360 degree view of broken glass surrounding them. This repeated broken image of one’s self is our view of the difficulties faced by refugees coping with a new country, new culture, new life or having to deal with the circumstances facing their own country with no means of escape.

By creating this environment of exclusivity and granting access while others can only view from outside, we hope to spark a dialogue about the vast problems facing the rights of refugees.

Needs: When we were first approached by Art for Amnesty they explained how they admired our ability to make interactive installations that not only involved the community but were visually impactful. For this upcoming exhibition on August 12 they wanted to create a more dynamic and involved experience for the viewers however only have $300 available funds for installation. We immediately wanted to be part of this exhibition and designed a piece that was budget conscious and maintained our constant pursuit of ethereal yet thought provoking spaces.

Within the next two weeks we plan on purchasing our materials and begin fabricating the exterior shell of our piece. Law books will be ripped apart exposing immigration literature and beautifully exposing them using braided fisherman thread and straws. Additionally, we will design and mill our top and bottom bases used as guides for our string structure and begin manipulating our interior mirror surface.

For the final phase of this installation; two weeks prior to opening, we will require a $1,000 of additional funds which covers necessary installation equipment such as scaffolding as the gallery has high ceilings, lighting creating a mood for the interior shell of the piece, casting and hiring our “gatekeeper” performer and his wardrobe, and printing visitor passes.

Timeline: Art for Amnesty’s $300 can allow us to purchase and begin manufacturing the first and most time consuming aspects. These first funds give us the ability to acquire the necessary materials such as used law books, fisherman thread, wood, mirrored glass and framing. However we estimate an additional $1000 are required 2 weeks prior to opening to complete the installation. This includes final materials, machinery needed to install, lighting, cost of the performer, wardrobe and passport like printing.

We are doing our best to get in-kind donations and waving our service fee because of the importance surrounding this exhibition, and particularly this art piece that serves as a backdrop for the panel discussion occurring after the opening reception. Completing this installation will aid in the dialogue of this very current issue especially as its taken place in such a diverse city like Miami.

Description: The Great Divide is an interactive art installation for Art in Amnesty’s Miami campaign in August. Constructed out of immigration law books and string, this vortex has something to hide; the tight winding path inside will demonstrate to the individual the difficulties of being different, that is if you have access to this interior space guarded by a gatekeeper. The installation is meant to create a conversation about shelter, duality, and immigration by creating an environment in which only the chosen get to experience what is beyond what the eye can see, leaving the majority to wonder and speculate.

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Laura Chipley

Project: The Appalachian Mountaintop Patrol

Goal: The Appalachian Mountaintop Patrol (AMP), which was launched in June 2015, is a collaborative, environmental watchdog and multimedia education initiative that works with grassroots environmental activists, former coal industry workers and local community members in the coalfield regions of West Virginia to use video cameras, drones and environmental sensors to document and take action against the ongoing environmental contamination and public health crisis caused by Mountaintop Removal coal mining.

West Virginia has one of the largest coal reserves in the world. Over the last few decades, underground coal mining has largely been replaced by Mountaintop Removal, a practice that automates coal extraction and requires a greatly reduced workforce. Mountaintop Removal erases ecosystems, sends deadly particulate matter into the air and leaks toxic chemicals into local waterways and drinking water supplies, resulting in a large scale public health crisis in Appalachian communities and widespread and irreversible environmental contamination. While coal industry public relations campaigns and politicians continue to boast that coal brings employment and prosperity to West Virginian communities, local residents have a different story to tell.

The Appalachian Mountaintop Patrol project has two goals, the first of which is to empower coalfield residents to tell their own stories about how Mountaintop Removal affects life in Appalachia in a way that combines compelling first-person accounts and scientific data with visceral imagery. This project also seeks to create a counter-narrative to the energy industry PR spin that saturates local news coverage, WV school curriculums and local political debates.

Both of these goals speak to one ultimate aim: accountability and reform on the part of the energy industry.

Needs: Over the last 13 months, with financial support from the A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art, I have traveled from NYC to West Virginia approximately once a month to work with my AMP collaborators. During my visits I have conducted a series of video production and aerial photography training workshops and have worked with AMP participants to film a series of short documentary videos that chronicle environmental contamination and people’s personal stories of living near mountaintop removal mine sites. My AMP collaborators and I have also launched a drone flyover program to allow local residents to see the extent and proximity of local mine sites to their homes and communities, and have facilitated a series of community meetings where we have screened raw footage for local residents.

The $1000 Macktez Summer Stipend will fund a trip to WV in August so that I may work face-to-face with my collaborators to finish editing a series of 5 short videos that will then be adapted for release on our website and social media, sent to lawmakers and screened at local community meetings. The Summer Stipend funds will also be used to hire a local WV web developer to finish our project website.

Travel costs from NYC to WV will be approximately $400. The local web developer will be paid $600 to finish creating the AMP website.

Timeline: Our goal is to release the AMP website and videos in early September. The footage for all of our web videos has been logged and all of our interviews / VO have been transcribed. We have also laid out a basic structure for each of the five short videos (working titles: Ways of Life, Behind the Tree Line, Public Health Emergency, Before and After and What Happens Next?) and already have rough cuts of two of the short videos. During my trip in August I will work with my collaborators to finish editing the other 3 videos and to create final cuts of the two videos we have already put together. We have also completed a draft of our website, but need to finalize the design and structure and language for the site.

Once the videos and website are done, we will officially release the project. This process will consist of sending press releases to local and national newspapers and blogs that cover environmental issues, drones, surveillance, activism, documentary filmmaking and art. We will also gradually release the videos on social media over 5 weeks, posting them on Facebook and the sites of our partner organizations and tweeting videos directly at the EPA, DEP and WV politicians. The videos and our raw footage will also be made available to other environmental organizations under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license.

Description: The Appalachian Mountaintop Patrol (AMP), which was launched in June 2015, is a collaborative, environmental watchdog and multimedia education initiative that works with grassroots environmental activists, former coal industry workers and local community members in the coalfield regions of West Virginia to use video cameras, drones and environmental sensors to document and take action against the ongoing environmental contamination and public health crisis caused by Mountaintop Removal coal mining.

Using video cameras and environmental testing kits, AMP participants take water quality measurements, film runoff from mountaintop removal wastewater ponds that seep into local waterways and record mine site regulatory violations. ‘Trail cams’ (motion activated cameras used to track game) are used to create time lapse videos of how strip mining permits radically transform Appalachian landscapes. Additionally, AMP participants create short documentary videos to tell their own stories about the experience of living in close proximity to environmental contamination and chronicle the unique cultural and natural heritage of Appalachia before it disappears.

The AMP project participants engage a wide network of stakeholders in West Virginia by facilitating video production workshops for local teens, recording interviews with impacted community members, and through public screenings of AMP footage at community meetings. AMP participants also facilitate free drone video documentation services above Boone and Raleigh County homes to raise local awareness about the true scale of Mountaintop Removal mine sites, slurry ponds and coal processing operations and their proximity to residences, schools, businesses.

The Appalachian Mountaintop Patrol was founded by Laura Chipley, a NYC-based artist with roots in Appalachia who uses site-specific interventions and emerging technologies to explore potentials for human collaboration and to document the social and environmental impacts of energy extraction. The AMP project is made possible through partnership with four grassroots West Virginia environmental organizations: Coal River Mountain Watch, Christians for the Mountains, the Kanawha Forest Coalition and Radical Actions for Mountain People’s Survival (RAMPS).

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Christine Garvey

Project: Drawing + Mindfulness: Creative Retreat in Beacon, New York

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Goal: I’m applying to the Macktez Summer Stipend to help support the development of a Drawing + Mindfulness retreat in Beacon, New York.

The program is a 4-day plein-air drawing from observation intensive that will explore drawing as an active form of meditation. It will teach students of all levels how to use this creative practice as a way to observe, appreciate, and connect with their environment in a meaningful way.

This type of engagement has become a difficult feat in the digital age, and particularly right now with the disturbing news we are bombarded with each day. As an artist and teacher, I see people suffering from this both personally and creatively and I seek to create an environment where they have the space and freedom to investigate other ideas. This retreat offers not only a reprieve from the city, but it teaches students a critical method (drawing), one through which they can actively decide what they want to be influenced by.

Drawing has done this for me and I look for every opportunity to share this with others.

I will collaborate on this project with mindfulness coach, inner city teacher, and yoga instructor, Josh Bobrow. As a supplement to the drawing exercises, we will include morning yoga as well as workshops on related meditation techniques. We will look at the intersection between presence and creativity and how these things work together to bring new ideas forward. Readings from other artists/thinkers on this subject will surface during the retreat, including the works of John Ruskin, Jon Kabit-Zinn, and Alain de Botton (among others).

Needs: Since this is my first time running the program, there are start-up costs. The stipend will cover expenses associated with program planning (i.e. site visits to Beacon, accommodation scouting, transportation, creation of marketing materials), as well as assist in covering student supplies (drawing materials, readings, chairs). The grant will also allow me to take un-paid time off work to design and market the program. Without this assistance the program will not be possible at this time. An estimated preliminary budget is as follows:

Site visits to Beacon (3): $200
Program + Curriculum planning – 40 hours at $25/hr: $1000
Marketing materials : $50
Student Supplies: $150 – 350 (depending on enrollment)

Total estimate: $1400 – $1600

Timeline: I would like to run this class in late October, or early spring 2017. It’s a plein-air drawing course so it needs to be outside. Since I have run courses like this before (please see my drawing course in Italy: http://www.christine-garvey.com/italydrawingcourses/) I am completely confident in my ability to successfully launch this program. I have a student base of 400+ that I contact bi-monthly. In fact, it was my students that asked me to put something like this together – a way to bring my drawing class in Italy to New York. Below is my rough project schedule:

Location scouting – Find partners for student housing/ work studio, meals included on site?
Drawing site scouting – locate areas around Beacon for plein-air drawing
Program coordination – Create curriculum plan with Josh Bobrow, design + distribute coursepack, receive + incorporate student feedback, Budget program
Marketing – Design and distribute postcards, advertise via mailing blast + social media, contact partner schools

Student enrollment – disseminate coursepack, enroll students
Continue marketing – mailing, blogs, social media, school collaborators
Pay partners – Place deposit on accommodation or residency space (meals?), pay collaborators

Enrollment closes Oct. 1.

Description: The Drawing + Mindfulness Retreat (as I explain in more detail above) will explore drawing as an active form of meditation, teaching students of all levels and abilities how to use this creative practice as a way to observe, appreciate, and connect with their environment in a meaningful way. Teaching this kind of drawing is a total passion project of mine and I have seen my students benefit from its teachings. The $1000 stipend will be used specifically for program planning, including visits to Beacon, accommodation and drawing site scouting, marketing material development, and curriculum design (see budget above). Without its support this project will not be possible at this time.

For more on me and my work, please visit: www.christine-garvey.com

Thank you for considering supporting this project!

Carrie Hawks

Project: black enuf*

Goal: An animated documentary explore the expanding black identity. I want to challenge stereotypes of what it means to belong to a particular group and promote diversity within racial groups.

Needs: I will need a composer to score the film, a sound mixer, and a Foley artist to add sound effects. All total, that may run $2,000. I have secured some funding already, but this will help cover the costs

Timeline: I’m aiming to complete the film by December 2016. I need to storyboard the ending, add 15-20 additional drawings, and animate 7 more minutes. Then I will work with an editor to refine the cut.

Description: My animated documentary, black enuf*, examines the expanding black identity through a personal journey. The film interweaves stories from my great grandmother’s autobiography, interviews of family & friends, and my hand-drawn memories. Starting off as a queer oddball in a white world, I navigate my path to self-confidence. My tongue and cheek humor makes such a heavy topic easier to digest. The visuals mix Monty Python style cut outs, infographics, watercolor, and a variety of illustrative styles.

By focusing on the memory highlights, the film time travels and jumps continents–all under 30 minutes!

I hope this film will prompt conversations about racial identity, perceptions, and acceptance. With its comedic approach, it creates a more welcoming atmosphere for dialogue and reflection. It’s especially appropriate for younger people forming their identities and mixed race individuals finding their paths. Anyone who has felt like an outcast can relate to the desire for camaraderie and self-acceptance.

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Chelsea Wagner

Project: The Camino


Goal: Undocumented immigration is a hot button issue in both the United States and Mexico. But many people on both sides of the border lack a deep understanding of its root causes and of how perilous the journey truly is. The Camino is a board game where players are asked to make decisions, take their chances, and try their luck at migrating through Mexico, across the Mexico-U.S. border, and to try to make a life in the United States.

The first iteration of The Camino already exists. My collaborator, Gabriela Reygadas Robles and I made an English-language version that has been play tested in New York City with social impact designers, game engineers, and board game enthusiasts. This summer we have been working on an improved, Spanish-language version of the game to take to Michoacán, Mexico where a significant portion of the population has attempted undocumented migration, successfully or otherwise.

We have been invited to bring The Camino to Guapamacátaro Art & Ecology Residency in Maravatío, Michoacán for a two-week session to play test the Spanish-language version with local communities, make improvements and focus on a redesign. Our aim is to get feedback from the other side of the border, not just on gameplay and mechanics, but on the aesthetic experience of the game, which will contribute to the accessibility of The Camino in both countries.

After the residency period, we will take The Camino to Mexico City and host two play test sessions there.

Once we’ve reviewed our feedback from our Mexico sessions, we will begin work on two final versions of the game, one in English and one in Spanish.

Needs: We need the following materials and services to complete the Spanish-language version of The Camino by the end of September:

Large format board prints: $400
Card printing and lamination: $250
Custom dice: $150
Oil-based paint markers: $50
Polymer clay for game pieces: $50
Hard case storage boxes for cards: $30
Hard case storage box with compartments for game pieces: $30
Specialty paper for passport books: $25
Matte finish transparent sealer/finish: $20
Fabric for “Lives” sacks: $15
Mailing tubes: $10
Packing materials: $10
Thread: $4
Dried beans: $3

Total budget: $1,042

Timeline: We intend to make two copies of the Spanish-language version of The Camino. One we will use for play testing. The other will serve as a backup as we will have limited access to resources once in Mexico. We may also use the second copy during our iterative design process. The funding provided by the Macktez Summer Stipend will allow us to purchase the materials and services we need to create the physical objects for the game.

Gabriela and I both have backgrounds in craft and share a passion for traditional Mexican handicrafts, the primary aesthetic influence for The Camino. About half of our game objects are handcrafted. We hand sculpt and hand paint our game pieces. To make two new sets will take 12-15 hours. We will make two Spanish-language versions of our hand bound passport rulebook, modeled on our English-language version. That will take approximately 10-12 hours.

We estimate we have 30 hours of copy editing and translating ahead of us. We are editing and translating the game board, the playing cards, and the rulebook. As Gabi and I are both bilingual, we’ll be able to divide the hours. At this stage we’ll be using our existing card templates so the layout for our Spanish-language cards will take approximately ten hours.

We have a quote of four to five business days for the large format prints of the game boards and cards.

We have designed custom dice for The Camino. We have a quote from our manufacturer of five weeks for production and shipping of our custom dice.

Our workshop and residency in Michoacán is scheduled for the last two weeks of October. We aim to have all of our production work completed and in-hand by the last week in September.

Description: In the board game The Camino, players embody one of four undocumented migrants, each an archetype created from real stories. Players make decisions based on their individual character’s resources, physical characteristics, and obstacles. As players migrate through Mexico, across the Mexico-U.S. border, and into the United States, they must chose from several real-life paths, encountering all that an undocumented migrant might face along the way. Each player is given five lives at the outset of the game. The first player to make it to The American Dream, wins, but not without a cost. By the end of the game, the board is covered in the lost lives of the players, a reminder of those who do not make it through the perilous journey.

We are honored and excited to have been invited to bring a Spanish-language version of The Camino to Guapamacátaro Art & Ecology Residency in Michoacán, Mexico. We are looking forward to developing The Camino further in collaboration with the community there. The scenarios currently experienced in the game are taken mostly from second-hand sources: documentaries, articles, case workers. Through co-creation workshops, interviews, and play tests, we will gather first-hand accounts of their journeys for the next version of the game.

We are partnering with a local photographer and filmmaker to develop a portrait/film series to accompany the final versions of The Camino that will include the interviews we conduct in Mexico.

Our ultimate goal for The Camino is to have two complete versions, one in English and Spanish, which are seen and used as both art objects and teaching tools on both sides of the border.

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Zak Zyz

Project: A Hundred Windows


Goal: A 10×10 3d art installation with a library-style ladder on rails so that observers can closely inspect details of the intricate tiles.

I want to create a vivid installation where people are encouraged to climb the ladder and take a closer look at the things that entice them.

Needs: Bulk wooden tiles (cost $471), steel and lumber framework for 10×10 wall, rolling ladder and rails (cost $560).

Timeline: Approximately 6 months. I can produce 5 tiles per week. (Tiles must cure in a refrigerator which can only hold 5 pieces). Construction of the frame and ladder will take approximately one week. This is for interior installation in a gallery or art space.

Description: A 10×10 grid of painted 3d tiles affixed to a steel frame, which has a library-style rolling ladder attached to two rails. Tiles are to be painted in the style of the pictures in the gallery above.

I would use the $1000 to purchase the base tiles (I have negotiated a bulk rate on them with a supplier) and the steel and lumber to create the frame. Without the stipend I will create a smaller 5×5 grid, and the dream of a rolling ladder will wait a few years.

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