ABOG Fellows for Socially Engaged Art 2017

A Blade of Grass, Brooklyn / United States

May 8, 2017

A Blade of Grass
81 Prospect St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

T +1 646 945 0860

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A Blade of Grass (ABOG), the first arts organization dedicated solely to socially engaged art, is pleased to announce their 2017 cohort of ABOG Fellows for Socially Engaged Art.

Artists Stephanie Dinkins, Rick Lowe, Ronny Quevedo, Aviva Rahmani, Ashley Sparks, Jackie Sumell, Freeman Word, and art collective Hello Velocity will join a growing body of artists and artist collectives that A Blade of Grass collaborates with and directly supports. At the core of the program is the ongoing goal to build a body of field research, films, publications, public programs and web content that highlight the expanding practice of socially engaged art at the intersection of art and social change.

The 2017 Fellows will realize projects in New York City, New Orleans, St. Louis, rural Virginia, and at documenta 14 in Athens, Greece, where they will be exploring issues of digital equity, immigrant rights, gentrification, and environmental and racial justice, among others. The final eight projects were chosen by two selection committees from an initial pool of 534 applicants, the largest A Blade of Grass has received to date. These applicants were elected as leading examples of artists engaging community members as equal partners in ambitious and creative collaboration.

Artist Stephanie Dinkins will create Project al-Khwarizmi (PAK) with artists, youth, and elders of color to address digital discrimination within artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Working alongside computer and data scientists, Dinkins and collaborators will develop a web-based chatbot to empower communities of color to understand how algorithms and AI systems impact daily life, and create a more culturally inclusive prototype.

Working collectively as Hello Velocity, artists Lukas Bentel, Kevin Wiesner, and JS Tan will create Gradient, an e-commerce plugin that prices products higher or lower depending on a customer’s income level. Leveraging their design, marketing, and technical expertise, Hello Velocity will use Gradient to demonstrate an equitable pricing system to a mass consumer audience.

Artist Rick Lowe will create the Victoria Square Project using the opportunity of documenta 14 to consider the situation of immigrants and refugees in relation to native Athenians in Victoria Square, Athens. Working collaboratively with local partners, the project will operate long-term to assure that the positive value and assets of immigrants and refugees are integrated into the overall changing narrative of Victoria Square.

Artist Ronny Quevedo will create Higher Sails in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, transforming small businesses into social agents by broadcasting community concerns through store signage, awnings and other graphic materials, and encouraging residents to respond to the impact of gentrification through art and design.

Artist Aviva Rahmani will create Blued Trees Symphony in prospective US pipeline locations in collaboration with scientists, and copyright, environmental policy, and real estate lawyers. Utilizing site-specific painting to create “tree-notes” on private land facing condemnation for eminent domain, Rahmani will create copyright-protected sonified biogeographic sculptural compositions to halt proposed pipeline expansion. Rahmani is the inaugural ABOG Fellow for Contemplative Practice, in partnership with the Hemera Foundation.

Theater maker Ashley Sparks will create Good Old Boys, a portable participatory performance for white southern male audiences in rural Virginia. Incorporating remote control cars, music, and characters inspired by the Dukes of Hazzard, the show draws upon Sparks’ experience as a Southerner, and explores themes of class, race, privilege, and power through intimate reframing of pop culture.

Artist Jackie Sumell will create The Garrison, a mobile classroom for prison abolition. During a three-month, multi-state tour, Sumell will collaborate with local partners to facilitate restorative justice forums and establish “Solitary Gardens,” cell-sized garden beds created through correspondence with incarcerated individuals. Sumell is the 2017 ABOG-David Rockefeller Fund Joint Fellow in Criminal Justice.

Artist Freeman Word will create the Zakatu Madrasa, a cooperatively owned and operated spiritual subscription bookstore in St. Louis. Referring to historical African educational institutions (both secular and religious), the Madrasa will bring together artists, educators, activists and young people of color to co-create art addressing regional social issues.

About A Blade of Grass
A Blade of Grass nurtures socially engaged art. We provide resources to artists who demonstrate artistic excellence and serve as innovative conduits for social change. We evaluate the quality of work in this evolving field by fostering an inclusive, practical discourse about the aesthetics, function, ethics and meaning of socially engaged art that resonates within and outside the contemporary art dialogue.

The ABOG Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art is made possible through the generous support of over 100 individual contributors and foundation and government partners. We are grateful for major contributions from the Hemera Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and Groundbreakers Agnes Gund, Eva Haller, Shelley Frost Rubin, and Linda Schejola. Related public programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

To learn more about A Blade of Grass and the artists we work with, please visit: www.abladeofgrass.org

Media contacts
Joelle Te Paske, Programs & Communications Manager, A Blade of Grass
T +1 646 945 0848 / jtepaske [​at​] abladeofgrass.org

Mathilde Campergue, Blue Medium Inc.
T +1 212 675 1800 / mathilde [​at​] bluemedium.com