Congratulations to Sylvia Ryerson, our 2017 Summer Stipend recipient

“Restorative Radio NY: Public Airwaves Through Prison Walls” is a deeply moving project to bridge the physical divide between individuals incarcerated in upstate New York and their families.

Sylvia co-produces “audio postcards” with family members that are broadcast over public airwaves, in order to reach their loved ones in prison as well as a general listening audience. You can read Sylvia’s stipend application here. And much more about this project here.

Our panelists had a lot of good things to say about Sylvia’s project:

This project “aspires to bridge a chasm between the incarcerated and their loved-ones when the conventional visitation isn’t possible due to distance, finances, etc.” and also the chasm “between those within the experience and those outside of it.”

“I was very drawn to the social mission behind this project. I often drive and ride past Upstate prisons and it’s always struck me how remote and inaccessible they are. Letting the prisoners connect more with their families can only be a good thing.”

“Incredible project. I strongly support this. Not only does it share the stories of who is behind the walls, but also of who is left behind. Not only are these stories for those inside, but they’re for all of us since we are all affected/connected.”

If the project interests you, it’s definitely worth listening to some of the previous work Sylvia has done; she has several audio files online here.

08-09-2017 | Stipend

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.

Click here for additional materials

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 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.

Click here for additional materials

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.

Click here for additional materials

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.

Click here for additional materials

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.

Click here for additional materials

07-25-2017 | Stipend

Summer Stipend 2017 applications are now closed

Thank you to everyone who applied.

Finalists for the 2017 Stipend will be posted right here on July 26, 2017.

07-23-2017 | Stipend

We’ll show you ours if you show us yours

Summer project, that is.

Applications for the Macktez Summer Stipend — our annual development grant of $1,000 — are now being accepted. For 12 years we’ve been encouraging the creative people we work with to pursue and complete the side project they wish they had more time for.

We know what it’s like to be drawn to an idea that feels so right but requires more time, attention, and funding than is practical. And it occurred to us this year that we shouldn’t ask you to reveal your summer project to us without letting you see what’s captured our imagination at Macktez.

Digital Safe Space

We have been building over the past few months, with great help from a former member of the Team, a new workshop on computer and internet security. Two important trends moved us to take up this work.

First, the threat from hackers is rising. More friends, clients, and presidential campaigns than ever are fending off attempts to break into their digital lives. Many of these attacks are not from sophisticated sci-fi bots that can be defeated by mass computing power, they are personal intrusions called “phishing” that require a combination of digital tools and individual awareness.

Second, the way hacks are often reported is super-scary. Sensational headlines focus on an ongoing threat that feels impossible to deflect. That’s not surprising. Say what you will about the merits of a vibrant free press in our democracy, these are still the same journalists who whip us into a periodic frenzy with horror stories of Africanized Killer Bees (first Texas, next: YOU!).

These hacks and the public response to them trigger a specific Macktez nerve. We spend our days encouraging the use of technology to solve problems. We want clients to be in control of these tools, know their limits, and use them with confidence. In contrast, the public presentation of these phishing scams leaves people feeling vaguely afraid, out of control, and diminished.

Macktez is eager to be part of a more personal conversation about using digital tools safely and securely. Our project is called Digital Safe Space.

Our first workshop is aimed at individuals, especially activists in the LGBTQ movement who are stepping up protest activity after the recent transfer of power in Washington. We review specific security tools that are now readily available, like 2-step authentication and encrypted messaging, so that users understand how to protect themselves. We review legal challenges to mobile phone privacy for protesters. Most important, we make sure that users hone their own situational awareness and skepticism, the same personal tools they use in a crowded public space, and that they don’t react to suspicious emails by panicking.

Our second workshop, in development this summer, moves to the organizational level, and addresses many of the issues we often discuss with clients: developing and enforcing policies that keep an organization’s proprietary digital information and communication safe from hackers, surveillance, bad actors, and error. Again, it’s important that organizations have deliberate security protocols that protect them not just from hacks but also from anxiety about hacks. In a politically-charged environment, activist groups may be a particular target, and they need to have clarity about which digital tools to choose and how to use them.

Summer Stipend 2017

If you are working on a project that’s just as personal for you, and you think $1,000 would help you cross the finish line, we want to hear about it.

The application for our Summer Stipend is pretty simple, and, following the model we use at Macktez, we’ve shared this step-by-step project plan, including recommended deadlines, specific actionable tasks, and time estimates. Applications are due July 22.

We evaluate applications on three simple criteria: originality, relevance, and conviction. Look below for examples of the various projects that have received the Macktez Summer Stipend in years past.

Summer Stipend Application

The deadline is July 22. Use this application worksheet to make sure you prepare your proposal thoughtfully and on time.

If our panelists are moved by the originality and relevance of your application, you’ll receive $1,000 to help you reach the finish line.

Please check your submission carefully prior to hitting the submit button. This information is sent immediately and you will not have the opportunity to review or edit.

You will be notified by email when finalists are selected, and when our 2017 recipient is named.

Ownership: By submitting material you affirm that you are the sole owner of all materials submitted for the Macktez Summer Stipend including but not limited to text, drawings, diagrams, photographs and video.
Permissions: You hereby grant permission for publication of the submitted material for potential use in press releases, presentations, exhibits, history books and similar publications; as well as for public access for student and educational purposes in all media including the Internet.

06-16-2017 | Stipend

Summer Stipend 2017 Application Worksheet

It’s helpful to prepare properly for an application like this, both to make sure you submit your best proposal on time, and also to give you the chance to think about project in a clear, directed way.


Don’t procrastinate. Set yourself a clear schedule between now and the deadline on July 25 to make sure you submit the best application possible.

Monday 6/19/2017 (0.25 hour)
– Read through the whole application at so you know what’s expected.
– Print out this page. (Or save it somewhere you can find it easily on 6/26.)
– Review your calendar and make schedule a couple of hours on or before 6/26 for the first set of tasks.

Monday 6/26/2017 (2 hours)
– Choose a comfortable space where you won’t be interrupted and have a pen, this worksheet, and your calendar handy.
– Enforce quiet time. (Put your cell phone in airplane mode or turn it off, close your email, close Facebook, close Pinterest … close everything.)
– Gather whatever materials you have for your project work to date.
– Make sketches of what needs to be done to complete your project. (We have our own favorite paper products we use for this process, available at, but any will do.)
– Review the dates and tasks that follow and add an event to your calendar on or before each deadline.
– Choose a colleague you respect to ask for input and invite them to chat next week.

Wednesday 7/5/2017 (1 hour)
– Take a friend or colleague out for coffee to talk about your project. (Talking about your creative work out loud helps you to refine and improve how it sounds to other people.)
– Bring whatever materials you have for your project work to date and a pen and paper. (A yellow notebook, perhaps!)
– Pause to take notes while you talk.

Saturday 7/8/2017 (1 hour)
– Outline the schedule and budget for your project.
– Outline your project description. (Review your notes.)
– List the possible images you could submit with your application. (Note which ones already exist digitally, and which ones you would need to take or create.)

Sunday 7/9/2017 (0.25 hour)
– Choose at least one friend or colleague to review, edit, and proofread your application on July 20 and reach out out to them to ask their help. (Make sure they know you’ll have a tight deadline right after that and need their comments back the next day.)

Tuesday 7/12/2016 (1 hour)
– Write a first draft of answers to all the questions on the application. (Write this up in a text editor or on paper. Don’t get too caught up in any one answer, and don’t try to edit yourself right away. Make sure you write something for each question.)

Thursday 7/13/2017 (1 hour)
– Revise your answers for a second draft. (This is where you can let yourself choose words more carefully and constructively.)

Saturday 7/15/2017 (1-2 hours)
– Take the picture or grab the image you will submit with your application.
– Upload it somewhere with a shareable link. (This can be your personal website, Flickr, Facebook, Picasa/Google Plus. To make sure it’s accessible to us make sure to log out of whatever service you are using and paste the site address in a new browser window. If you can see the image that way, we can also.)

Monday 7/17/2017 (0.5 hour)
– Send your draft application to the person who agreed to be your editor. (Remind them that you’re on a tight deadline and need their comments back by the following day.)
– Make sure you include the link to your application image. (So your editor can confirm that your image is accessible.)

Wednesday 7/19/2017 (0.5 hour)
– Follow-up with your editor and review their feedback closely. (Don’t include edits unless you’re convinced they make your application better. This is your project, not your editor’s.)

Thursday 7/20/2017 (1 hour)
– Choose a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted and revise your application. (This is nearly your final edit so take your time.)
– Many people find it easier to do final edits on paper, so if you don’t have a printer, allow time to go somewhere with one and generate a hard copy to review.

Your application is not due until 7/23, but you don’t really want to wait until the very last day, do you?

Friday 7/21/2017 (1 hour)
– Set yourself up in a space with internet access where you won’t be rushed and won’t be interrupted.
– Make one final proofread of your application and answers. (Double-check all spelling.)
– Pull up and copy and paste your answers into the application fields.
– Double-check your email address. (If you get this wrong, we’ll never be able to tell you that you won!)
– Take a deep breath and review your application one last time.
– Click “Submit.”

Wednesday 7/26/2017 (0.25 hour)
– Check back at our website, like us on Facebook, follow our Twitter feed, or subscribe to our RSS feed to see if you’re one of the finalists.

Food for Thought

Creative work can be difficult to express in clear language, yet that’s exactly what this application asks you to do. Some of the more specific questions below may help you work out what about your project you would like to tell others to get them as excited about it as you are.

– What are you trying to accomplish?
– What problem are you looking to solve or question do you want to answer?
– Has anything like this ever been done before?
– If not, why are you the first to think of it?
– If yes, why are you compelled to do it yourself?

– How much have you spent so far on this project? (List the things you’ve paid for.)
– How much more will it cost to complete? (List what you need with cost estimates.)
– How would you fund this project without the Macktez Summer Stipend?

– How long have you been thinking about this project?
– How long have you been working on this project?
– When do you expect to be finished?

– Is the finished project meant just for yourself or to be shared publicly?
– (Does that matter to you?)
– Is there anyone in particular you are hoping will see the finished project? Any venue that would be particularly appropriate?

– Do you remember the first time the idea for this project occurred to you?
– Has anyone else’s work inspired this project? If yes, who?
– Who or what motivates you to keep working on this project?

– Do you work alone or collaboratively with others?
– Do you work at home or elsewhere?
– Do you work on this project every day, or in fits and starts?
– Do you work linearly or roundabout?

| Stipend

2017 Summer Stipend Panelists Announced

The 2017 Summer Stipend application opens soon.

On June 16, check for your chance to receive $1000 to finish your summer project.

We are delighted to have the following colleagues, clients, and friends participating in the selection of our 2017 Summer Stipend recipient:

Melissa Cicetti is principal of Studio Cicetti Architect. Previously, she was a Project Manager at Gluckman Mayner Architects, where she was lead architect on all retail projects for fashion designer Helmut Lang.

Catherine Gund, the founder and director of Aubin Pictures, is an Emmy-nominated producer, director, writer, and activist. Her media work focuses on strategic and sustainable social transformation, arts and culture, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, and the environment.

Stuart Harvey Lee is the founder and creative director of Prime Studio, a design consultancy for some of the world’s leading brands.

Matthew Pontefract is founder and chief technologist at ReThought, a technology consultancy specializing in scalable internet architectures, high performance computing, data and API management, new media, e-commerce, and finance.

Douglas Smith is chief financial officer of Bank Robber Music, a music licensing company that helps bands get their music placed in film, TV, and advertising.

Sharon Ullman is acting executive director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, dedicated to the legacy of Rauschenberg’s life, work, and philosophy that art can change the world.

06-15-2017 | Stipend

Macktez Summer Stipend application opens June 16

Our annual stipend provides $1000 for your summer project.

Every summer, Macktez invites clients, friends, and complete strangers to tell us how $1000 would help them carry their personal projects across the finish line. Our panelists evaluate applications on three basic criteria — originality, relevance, and conviction — and in August we announce one Stipend recipient.

On June 16 applications open — bookmark Entries will be due the next month, on July 22. Finalists will be announced a week later, and our recipient will be selected just a few weeks after that.

The Summer Stipend application itself is designed with our methodology in mind. It includes a worksheet to help you define a clear schedule, choose deliberate actions, and focus your attention.

If you’d like to get reminders and updates from us as we hit each of the Stipend milestones, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or follow our Tumblr.

You can also review our previous recipients and their projects below.

05-25-2017 | Stipend

Quick zip for tidying up

Just think of all the cables your digital life requires that are tangled behind your couch, hanging from your TV, lurking next to your computer, and stuffed into your backpack 00ynqlv. You can’t avoid them — but you can tame them.

How can you maintain a distraction-free workspace if the wires that power and connect you are on the loose? Here’s a simple tool that will help you tidy up for the new year.

Of course you know all about the amazing hook-and-loop zipperless zipper. Velcro has been admired by everyone from Buzz Aldren to David Letterman for its strong, reusable fastening. But the particular design of this strap neatly solves an additional challenge: how to not lose it.

Wrap the fat end of the strap around your cable and feed the tapered tail through the slot. Now your velcro stays attached even when not used for wrapping — and won’t get lost.

Clutch your cables together with one hand and, with the other, wrap the velcro tightly around the bundle, cinching nice and snug.

You can use just one to wrap a power cord to toss in your bag, or, for a long stretch of cables, use one every nine inches to keep the cables baled.

When you need to add an additional cable, of course, Velcro can unwrap and then tie everything back up hundreds of times before its grip diminishes.

Introducing M Network, a new division of Macktez

Sometimes just one loop of Velcro won’t do, and you need your cables professionally managed. That’s why we’ve spun off a new division of Macktez called M Network.

M Network specialists can help design and plan your new office build-out or tidy-up the mess under your desks. We can run one new cable or one hundred, install server room racks, security cameras, wireless access points, and phone systems. We can professionally diagnose, repair, and maintain existing networks or start from scratch in a new space.

You may know we are picky about organized project plans, detailed checklists, well-labeled equipment, and coordinated communication. We’ve worked with many cabling vendors over the years, and we saw an opportunity to integrate these sprawling jobs within our own team of consultants.

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Congratulations to Nelly Bonilla, our 2016 Summer Stipend Recipient

Nelly created the Great Divide, shown as part of Amnesty International’s Art for Amnesty showcase in Miami this past summer.

Her project was designed as a statement on the treatment of refugees — a 15-foot structure constructed from torn law books and broken glass to create a vortex only some people are allowed to enter, while others are left on the outside looking in. A gatekeeper decides who is permitted to experience the journey of the winding space. If you are not chosen, you can only watch, and wonder. Read more about her work at

– The Team at Macktez

01-27-2017 | Happy New Year

Congratulations to Nelly Bonilla, our 2016 Summer Stipend Recipient

The Great Divide is being shown as part of Amnesty International’s Art for Amnesty showcase in Miami.

Nelly Bonilla works as part of a Home Eleven creating designs out of common materials like paper, PVC pipe, and string. The Great Divide is constructed from torn law books and broken glass to create a vortex only some people are allowed to enter, while others are left on the outside looking in. A gatekeeper decides who is permitted to experience the journey of the winding space. If you are not chosen, you can only watch, and wonder.

Nelly’s description of the project in her Summer Stipend Application made clear the social intent of this work: “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.”

Here are some of the nice things our panelists had to say:

“High five for engaging with the complicated and broad situation that is the refuge experience, and distilling a part of it into something so visceral with this installation.”

“I think her work is visually compelling and is addressing important subjects. I appreciate the way she uses spectacle to engender an empathic response in the participants.”

“It would be great to think of ways that people could experience this project past its physical installation.”

Nelly will use the $1000 Stipend to help offset costs of installation, for interior lighting, and to compensate the person playing the gatekeeper.

08-10-2016 | Stipend

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.

Click here for additional materials

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).

Click here for additional materials

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: 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:

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.

Click here for additional materials

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.

Click here for additional materials

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.

Click here for additional materials

07-26-2016 | Stipend