2017 Artist as Activist

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York

July 13, 2017

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
381 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10003-7022

T +1 212 228 5283


Foundation to support nine artist-led projects to address prison-industrial complex and mass incarceration in the USA 

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation announced the recipients of its 2017 Artist as Activist fellowship, a grant of up to 100,000 USD over two years, which supports the growing body of independent artists and collectives applying their creative practices to critical social challenges. This year’s cohort of fellows use cultural organizing, documentary film, dance, theater, and public installations to intervene in the ways the epidemic of mass incarceration disproportionately affects generations of immigrants and people of color in the United States. 

The 2017 Artist as Activist Fellows were selected from a pool of more than 275 applicants based on their project’s bold vision, as well as the artists’ fluency in this issue and their demonstrated capacity to impact communities most affected by mass incarceration. 

2017 Artist as Activist Fellows

Eve Abrams, New Orleans, LA
Abrams is mounting the second season of Unprisoned, an audio-documentary series that reveals the personal stories behind the prison statistics of Louisiana, the world’s incarceration capital.  

Chicago Torture Justice Memorial, Chicago, IL
As part of a historic reparations agreement with the City of Chicago for its history of police brutality, the group will mount public memorials that ensure the experiences and testimonies of police torture survivors are never forgotten.  

Erika Cohn, Salt Lake City, UT
Cohn’s Belly of the Beast combines film, web, and mobile technology to examine the ways mass incarceration impacts reproductive justice, featuring intimate, first-person accounts of currently and formerly incarcerated women fighting for the right to bear children. 

Jesse Krimes, Philadelphia, PA
With roots in rural Pennsylvania, Krimes is leveraging the artwork of formerly and currently incarcerated individuals to facilitate public education among his neighbors in conservative areas.  

Jo Kreiter, San Francisco, CA
Kreiter will develop and perform The Wait Room, an aerial dance in public space that embodies both the physical and psychic burdens of incarceration for women with imprisoned loved ones. 

Michelle Angela Ortiz, Philadelphia, PA
Ortiz’ Familias Separadas is a series of site-specific public works that mark the criminalization of Latino communities and the trauma of immigrant families affected by detention and deportation in rural Pennsylvania.

Zoey Martinson, Jersey City, NJ
In collaboration with HERE Art Center, The Black History Museum… According to the United States of America combines theater, visual culture, and satire to lay bare the historical “lessons” taught to Black bodies as understood by the millennial generation.

Alex Rivera & Cristina Ibarra, Pasadena, CA
The Infiltrators is a documentary film focused on the true story of young undocumented Americans who purposely made their way into a secretive, for-profit immigrant detention center to reveal its abuses.  

SpiritHouse, Durham, NC
This collective will explore strategies to destabilize the criminal justice system with Harm Free Zones, a series of performances and workshops designed to envision alternative systems of justice and public safety.

About the Artist as Activist program
Artist as Activist provides game-changing resources to artists of all disciplines, including visual, performing, media, design, and other creative professions, who address important global challenges through their creative practice. For more information, visit www.rauschenbergfoundation.org.

About the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation fosters the legacy of the artist’s life, work, and philosophy that art can change the world. The foundation supports initiatives at the intersection of arts and issues that embody the fearlessness, innovation, and multidisciplinary approach that Robert Rauschenberg exemplified in both his art and philanthropic endeavors. 

Media contact
Poonam Mantha, BerlinRosen
T 646 200 5330 / poonam.mantha [​at​] berlinrosen.com