2017 Summer Stipend Finalists Announced

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

Marcos Chavez

Project: DERT Books

Goal: I am working on launching a social entrepreneurship brand (called DERT) which works with student designers to re-imagine classic works of literature into newly packaged books. DERT books will be used as fundraising tools to raise money for a literacy charity. DERT has partnered with Parent-Child Home Program (a social services organization with over 50 years working with at risk pre-school children providing home visits and books in order to ensure school readiness for children nation wide).

Description: The $1000 stipend would be used to print 10 of our student designed classic books. Books will be printed using on-demand digital printing (blurb) and the purchase of 100 copies of 10 books will bring the price down in order to be able to maximize our profit margin (more we can donate) and allow for the price per book to be more competitive and inspire more sales.

We have worked with students to create a line of books that we are planning to launch later this year. We are seeking funding to do a low run 1st printing of a 12-20 books and are seeking funding for the cost of printing. Any amount of help would be appreciated, and with the $1000 maximum amount we would be able to print approximately 100 copies of 10 of our books.

Right now all our books are being finalized with proofreading completed and just minor design finalizations taking place on a handful of books. Getting a small inventory of books printed and having our shipping process on our site is needed, as well as finalizing the formation of a B-Corporation which we are in the process of setting up.

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Diane Jean-Mary

Project: Admittance

Goal: This summer, I have dedicated myself to producing a short film that showcases the talents and abilities of black and brown women in cinema. The film is culturally specific, but thematically broad, depicting the world of a Caribbean mother and her Caribbean American daughter.

“Admittance” is a short film, with an entirely black and brown female cast and crew. In an era of under representation in the film industry, this project is vital to producing a story that is of a cultural reality, while employing the skills and creativity of individuals of that cultural identity.

The aim of this project is to (1) showcase Caribbean/Caribbean American culture in a non-stereotypical existence, (2) promote the filmmaking skills of brown and black women, and (3) establish working relationships for future collaborations between the cast and crew. We have assembled a stellar crew and cast of amazingly creative women, and hope that this project will be the first of many collaborations.

Description: I am applying to use this $1,000 stipend to fund the post production needs of the short film “Admittance”. This film depicts a pivotal day in the lives of Fabiola and her daughter Nathalie, as the overprotective Caribbean mother discovers that her daughter has hidden a college application (and acceptance) to a school on the other side of the country. Fabiola is forced to reconsider her relationship with her daughter or ruin it for good.

My near term goal is to produce this short film for public viewing, in community spaces and in the film festival circuit. My long term goal is to use the short film as a proof of concept to get funding for the feature version of this script.

It is an honor to be considered for this funding. I thank you all for your consideration!

Rosa Nussbaum

Project: Golfers (Working Title)

Goal: I am making a hand drawn animated short.

I am a visual artist and am currently going to grad school at the University of Texas at Austin. I moved to Texas from the UK about a year ago.

Then, everything was strange and new and I couldn’t tell what was normal. It was as though the world had become magical again in a way that it was when I was a child; the world had become strange and illegible to me. When you’re young it isn’t clear what is real—dinosaurs or crocodiles or dragons. Here in Texas I was equally uncertain. Was half a house trying to turn a corner in the dead of night normal? (You could see in, there was furniture and there were personal belongings). When you don’t know what is normal the world becomes suspended between magic and the mundane. This is where stories live.

I have always worked with the aesthetics of narrative in my work (feel free to look at things I have previously done on my website https://rosanussbaum.com). I’m heavily influenced by animation and comic books, especially the studio Ghibli movies and Kirikou and the Sorceress, and I have always been drawn to surreal short stories (for example Gogol’s The Nose has always stayed with me).

Every day I cycle to school in the heat. On my way I pass a golf course that is hidden from the road by a tall ridge. The bike path is littered with golf balls, like strange eggs. I imagined them hatching into tiny golfers. This is what gave me the idea for the piece I want to make. I want to tell the story of the tiny golfers in an animated short that captures the strangeness and innocence of following a stray thought that springs from a fascination with the world and that takes something normal and makes it strange.

Description: A three minute (mostly) hand drawn animation of a girl who finds finds golf balls on the bike path whilst cycling and puts them in her bag. She cycles home and puts them under a heat lamp to incubate them. Overnight the golf balls hatch into tiny golfers and build a small golf course on her bedside table. Later, a lady comes by to pick some of them up and take them to their new home (like kittens when you have a litter). At first they are sad to leave their old home, but they quickly make new friends.

The focus will be on the tiny golfers; shaking hands, stepping back politely out of each other’s way, being excited and dismayed by turns. I want to make something that is strange and magical and endearing and humorous and gently pokes fun at what seems eminently normal.
The backgrounds will be detailed watercolors based on places I have seen. I’ve already gone out and done sketches and have started the final painting for one of them. They will move a bit (trees swaying in the wind, plants shaking, light changing) but mostly be static. There are three background locations. The characters will be painted with cel paint onto animation cels. I will buy the cel paint from The Cartoon Color Company (the only place you can buy cel paints in the US). I will use the stipend to buy the cel paints, a light box and cels themselves.

One of the reasons I want to make a short is that it can be seen by lots of people easily. I always try to make the content of my work accessible but when working in sculpture or performance it can really only be in one place at a time and often it has to be shown in art spaces. This way I can submit it to short film festivals and my local cinema and put it online and I can still show the drawings and cels along with the animation in a gallery context. Animation is an unforbidding medium that can be kind and charming whilst still exploring interesting imaginary worlds.
Of course there is a long line of absurdists animators and there is a lot of very interesting writing on what conceptual and political roots animation has. If you’re interested in reading more about that there is a great article by Zoe Beloff called Bodies Against Time.

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Jen Pitt

Project: SHIFT

Goal: We are trying to create a narrative short-film on the day in the life of two people who had to be apart in order to grow as humans. Our main character Andy, is a trans man who leaves his wild days and his relationship in San Francisco to move back home to rural Maine in order to feel like himself at home for the first time ever.

We think it is important to represent nontraditional stories in the film in order to demystify the trans condition.

Description: Our project is a narrative short-film. We have spent the summer shooting at the Barn Arts residency in Maine. The story is about Andy, a trans man who decides to go back to his small town home to transition so that he can confront his demons and reach peace.

In the film, Andy is adjusting to life back home when an old love, Holly, visits from San Francisco, bringing a lot of their emotional baggage with her. It is the first time she witnesses Andy as a trans man and they go through a series of awkward conversations until they are finally able to speak candidly and openly about their feelings and how they had to leave each other in order to find themselves. They do not fall back in love or resume their relationship, but they find closure and acceptance in a profoundly empathetic way.

We cast a trans male actor as the trans male and a lesbian woman as Holly and they collaborated on the writing of the script so as to insure accurate representation of otherwise underrepresented groups.

We have a crew of 5 people: two co-directors, a director of photography, an assistant camera person and a sound operator.

We are very pleased with our creative process and the ensuing results but need extra money in order to master edit the film so that we can submit it to festivals. We plan on submitting to many festivals, including The New York Experimental Queer Film Festival; the OUTsider Film Festival in Austin, Texas; The Teddy Awards in Berlin and other non-queer specific festivals so that we can carry this progressive and heartfelt story to as many audiences as possible.

We want to start a dialogue but we also want to move away from making trans a plot point and instead exploring these characters in their full dimensionality.

The Macktez stipend would be of great help for us to cross the finish line on a project we worked very hard on and believe so deeply in. Thank You.

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Sylvia Ryerson

Project: Restorative Radio: Public Airwaves Through Prison Walls

Goal: I am working to complete Restorative Radio NY, a radio series of “audio postcards” co-created with family members of people incarcerated in upstate New York. The postcards will be broadcast over public airwaves, reaching both prisoners and a general listening audience, transcending prison walls and changing public perceptions of who is behind them.

Description: Restorative Radio NY is an original audio art project. I am working with family members of those incarcerated in upstate NY to create a series of 5-15 minute length “audio postcards”. Each postcard will be broadcast over public airwaves to reach their loved ones in prison and a general listening audience. While our criminal justice system disproportionately affects People of Color in cities, since the 1980s, the majority of new prisons have been built in rural America. Thousands of prisoners find themselves culturally and geographically isolated, while the struggles their families endure go largely unrecognized – phone calls and travel are expensive, and visitation time is limited. Given these obstacles, it can become virtually impossible for many families to find the time and resources it takes to stay in touch with relatives in prison – and yet studies across the board show that maintaining connections with the outside world is a primary factor in successful reentry upon release.

From 2011-2014, I led the production of WMMT-FM’s nationally recognized “Calls from Home” program, which broadcasts phone messages from families to their relatives incarcerated in rural Appalachia. In 2015 I started Restorative Radio, determined to use the medium of sound to collaboratively create “audio postcards” that can express more than a voice message, and impact a broader audience in doing so. The goal: to work with prisoners’ families to capture the everyday sounds of their lives – a walk through their neighborhood, family gatherings, a child being put to bed – and then weave these soundscapes together with music and family voices speaking their personal hopes, dreams and memories, so that each postcard becomes a meditation on home and freedom. The project transcends prison walls and changes public perceptions of who is behind them.

I worked with nine families across the state of Virginia to complete a successful pilot series that aired on WMMT-FM and was met with critical acclaim. I am now expanding this project to New York State. I am partnering with the Osborne Association to work with families in New York City that have relatives incarcerated in upstate NY, many hours from home. I am also partnering with two public radio stations in rural NY (WGXC-FM and WJFF-FM) that collectively reach seven upstate prisons. This stipend would be used to complete the production of the Restorative Radio NY series, and to create a project website.

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Floating Museum

Project: Floating Museum presents Summer on the River

Goal: Floating Museum is a collaborative arts organization that creates temporary, site-responsive museum spaces to activate sites of cultural potential throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods. We engage local artists, historians, and organizations in events that challenge traditional museum thinking and generate community engagement and conversation.

This August, Floating Museum will bring the Chicago River alive robust, free, interactive public arts and culture programming. Celebrating the River’s industrial past, Floating Museum will transform a barge into an aesthetically striking mobile gallery inspired by “cabinets of curiosities”. A historic predecessor to museums, “cabinets of curiosity” often showcased a variety of unique objects from various collections to draw connections between art, history, nature, science, and fantasy. In this spirit, Floating Museum invites audiences to draw connections between curated artworks, performances, and cultural activities and the rich histories of the Chicago neighborhoods in which they were developed. Each partner engaged through our exhibit, be they an established cultural institution, individual artist, or young student, are in conversation with each other, allowing the display on the barge to become an aggregated expression of our city.

Description: Floating Museum will transform a barge into an aesthetically striking mobile gallery filled with art crates displaying work created by local artists and our collaborators. The barge will feature a towering pyramid-like structure comprised of wooden crates hand-crafted by Terry Dowd. Complementing the structure will be a 10ft reproduction of the bust of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, honoring the founder of our city. Affixed to the front of the barge, a 9’ x 12’ LED screen will display video art, photography slides, and film screenings. Artists and partnering organizations have been invited to interpret the crates either as a display case for artwork they create or curate, or as a physical canvas to manipulate. Some of these crates will spill over onto the shoreline for viewers to encounter up close, where live performances and interactive programs will help complete the vibrant and joyful expression of our culturally diverse city.

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: Miguel Aguilar, Marcus Alleyne, Kris Casey, Louis DeMarco, Bill Douglas, Assaf Evron, Krista Franklin, Maria Gaspar, Adam Hines, Yashua Klos, Pope L., Mary Mattingly, Cecil McDonald Jr., Jesse McLean, Derek Moore, Dan Peterman, Cheryl Pope, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Fernando Ramirez, Cauleen Smith, Sheila Smith, Edra Soto, Lan Tuazon, JGV/WAR (Curator), Maria Villareal, Roman Villareal, Amanda Williams, and Avery R. Young and De Deacon Board

PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS: DuSable Heritage Association, DuSable Museum of African American History, Graffiti Institute, Hyde Park Art Center, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Project Onward, SkyArt, Southeast Chicago Historical Society, South Side Projections, T.R.A.C.E, West Pullman Park Special Rec. Program

Offering audiences a chance for a new kind of participation, each site the barge will be docked at becomes a gallery, with a collection of art and performance that knits together to tell a story of our city that is as soulful, energetic, and creative as the people that keep this city moving. Each location will host programs and events around the arrival of the barge, and are mirrored from site to site so that visitors become part of shared experience across the city. Wednesdays will feature a Song Circle, led by renowned poet and vocalist Avery R. Young, offering a rare glimpse into the creative process of some of this city’s most remarkable blues and gospel voices. Thursdays will feature Breaking Bread sessions, with a panel of community stakeholders that will lead an informal group discussion. We will talk as neighbors, as Chicagoans, and as family, over food, about topics related to each individual site we are at. Fridays the Floating Museum will sponsor a live music event at a local establishment to support neighborhood talent and camaraderie. Saturdays will feature our collaborative building exercise Sticks and Tape. This interactive, guided process provides an accessible way for people of all ages to create a temporary (and often expansive) art structure out of the humble materials of sticks and tape.

Programming for the Summer on the River will begin the first week of August at SkyART in South Chicago, then the barge will dock at Park 571 Eleanor Boathouse for a week, make it’s way up to the Riverwalk for a two week duration, and then the crates will be unloaded into the Polk Bros Park on Navy Pier and be on view through the fall.

Wandering through this unique free, outdoor gallery visitors will encounter work created by world-class, Chicago-based artists, as well as displays highlighting the hidden gems of our City’s culturally rich neighborhoods. Our summer programming schedule will balance the rare peace that the riverfront offers amid the city with insightful discussions, joyful dance sessions, and rare joint performances from some of our city’s most talented musicians and singers.

This summer, we invite everyone to join us on the River, and discover Chicago anew.

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