Announcing the 2019 Monument Lab National Fellows
Monument Lab is proud to announce our inaugural cohort of fellows. Chosen through a national open call, these civic practitioners and youth fellows confront the inequity and injustice in our nation’s monuments and provide bold, creative approaches to public art, history, and memory. Some of the fellows have been working toward these ends for decades. Others began only recently, but have already made impressive, vital contributions. Together, they represent a new guard who are radically redefining what it means to engage public spaces, sites of history, and monuments today.
We are excited to begin learning from and working with the fellows as they realize their meaningful projects and continue the national movement to critically engage and update the monumental landscape. In addition to fostering connections and conversations within the cohort, Monument Lab will serve as a platform for the fellows’ writing and projects to reach a wider national audience via our web bulletin and podcast. Be sure to stay tuned over the coming months as they share their perspectives, processes, and projects. Finally, they will convene in Philadelphia this summer for an open meeting and workshop.
Arielle Brown is a multidisciplinary cultural producer, social and civic practice theater artist, and dramaturg based in Philadelphia, PA. Brown’s work seeks solutions for how cultural institutions and arts initiatives can facilitate social justice and cultural equity through the championing of culturally specific performance. Emerging from her work and research around U.S. slavery, racial terror, and justice, Arielle is committed to supporting and creating Black performance work that commands imaginative and material space for social transformation. Her project, Black Spatial Relics: A New Performance Residency around Slavery, Justice and Freedom, supports the development of performance works that address and incorporate the public history of slavery and contemporary issues of justice.
San Francisco, CA
Cheyenne Concepcion is an urbanist, artist, and designer based in San Francisco, CA. In an effort to move away from authoritative representations of space, her research experiments with the redrawing of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands by hybridizing methodologies of conceptual art, new media, and counter-cartography. Concepcion’s project, Borderlands Archive, is a virtual architectural design for a new container for knowledge and narratives about the borderlands. Stepping away from how monuments and maps have historically defined them, she seeks to highlight veritable cultural and material connections by archiving contributed objects from the borderlands.
Free Egunfemi is an independent historical strategist based in Richmond, VA. She is the founder of Untold RVA and coined the phrase "commemorative justice" to describe the emergence of a powerful new Richmond-based movement that centers the unearthing of hidden historical freedom narratives as an act of resistance. Egunfemi's Keepers of the Light project strategically installs community curated art and typography onto street lamps to create urban sacred spaces that illuminate the unbreakable spirits of Richmond's self determined ancestors, upon whose shoulders she stands. The project is presented as a series of mobile phone optimized illustrations, each with its own unique telephone number code, to reveal 400 years of untold stories about the (s)heroes who fought to disrupt systemic race-based oppression in Virginia's capital city.
Los Angeles, CA
Joel Garcia is an artist, arts administrator, and cultural organizer based in Los Angeles, CA. For over 20 years, Garcia has worked transnationally with artists across the Americas with a focus on indigenous perspectives. Previously, he served as Co-Director at Self Help Graphics & Art (2010-2018), an organization rooted in printmaking and social justice. His project, The Decolonial Initiative Task Force (DITF) plans to include engagement with the Tongva, Tataviam and Chumash people, Indigenous experts in cultural art practices, the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission, and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission to create just and communal processes to address the inequities and lack of inclusion of Native Peoples of Los Angeles in civic art that upholds white supremacy.
Take Action Chapel Hill (Gina Balamucki, Maya Little)
Chapel Hill, NC
Take Action Chapel Hill is a grassroots activist coalition based in Chapel Hill, NC. Formed in August 2018 to support anti-racist activists facing charges related to protests against white supremacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, they created the Anti-Racist Activist Fund which provides support for current and future defendants in the struggle against white supremacy in Chapel Hill and surrounding areas. Their organizing efforts led to the takedown of the contentious confederate monument Silent Sam and ongoing efforts to challenge narratives of campus history related to Civil War and racial justice.
Gina Balamucki is a UNC undergraduate alumnus and a student at the UNC School of Law. She is a visual artist, musician, author, graphic designer, and organizer.
Maya Little is a student activist and historian currently pursuing a doctorate in history at UNC, focusing on Chinese history. Her work has been featured on Democracy Now and other major news outlets.
Kanyinsola Anifowoshe is a senior at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago, IL. Inspired by Alice Walker’s essay “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens”, Anifowoshe’s project, the In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens series, is a calendar of public programs that will engage participants in conversation about Walker’s ideas, and our intergenerational and unconventional creative energies. The series will include workshops exposing participants to historically ignored forms of creative production including gardening, quilting, and graffiti art. Programs will also explore the historical and contemporary relationship between Black women and artistic institutions: the myriad ways in which racial and gender exclusion is practiced. Anifowoshe also hopes to explore the potential for reclaiming these institutions — reimagining the roles and responsibilities of artistic organizations in order to face oppression and build community.
Zyahna Bryant is a senior at Charlottesville High School, in Charlottesville, VA. As a freshman, Bryant wrote the petition to remove the Robert E. Lee statue and rename Lee Park in Charlottesville. Her petition gained national attention and sparked public debate and protests, ultimately resulting in the renaming of the park and grassroots organizing that led to the election of Charlottesville’s first Black Female Mayor in 2017. As a part of her fellowship, Bryant will continue her work in Charlottesville, engaging stories of liberation and social justice.
A Long Walk Home (Anaya Patrice Frazier, Danielle Nolen, Aliyah Young)
Anaya Patrice Frazier, Danielle Nolen, and Aliyah Young are youth leaders of A Long Walk Home's Girl/Friends Leadership Institute in Chicago, IL. A Long Walk Home (ALWH) is a Chicago-based national non-profit that uses art to educate, inspire, and mobilize young people to end violence against girls and women. ALWH’s Girl/Friends Leadership Institute empowers teen girls to use art to advocate for themselves and other girls, to design campaigns and policies to end dating violence, sexual assault, and street harassment in their Chicago schools and communities, ultimately changing the face of leadership in the women’s movement. During their shared fellowship, Nolen, Frazier, and Young will continue working toward their goal of developing a permanent memorial project for Black women and girls in Douglas Park, Chicago, where Rekia Boyd, an unarmed 22-year-old African American young woman was fatally shot by police officer Dante Servin in 2012. This would be the first public art project of its kind in Chicagoland.
Anaya Patrice Frazier is a junior at Gwendolyn Brooks Pre School in Chicago, IL. Anaya writes and performs her own poetry, and is a community organizer who has plans to create her own organization for youth of color.
Danielle Nolen is a senior at North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter High School in Chicago, IL. Danielle is a photographer, and is committed to making black women and girls stories heard through her art.
Aliyah Young is an early high school graduate from Oak Park River Forest and is currently working toward a B.A. in Anthropology and Africana Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. Aliyah is a spiritual leader, and has led a MeToo youth convening with her peers to discuss and strategize ways to center Black girls in the MeToo Movement in the city of Chicago.
In Fall 2018, Monument Lab announced its first open call for national fellows. Applications were welcome from civic practitioners (artists, activists, scholars, journalists, filmmakers, architects, designers, planners, archivists, historic preservationists, data scientists, among others) and high school students around the country (with existing projects that use art, activism, history, journalism, and other tools to approach monuments in their communities). Emerging, independent, and underrepresented practitioners were encouraged to apply.
Once the application date closed, applications were reviewed by a panel of Monument Lab curatorial team members and guest jurors representing the fields of art, history, and social engagement. The selection process was difficult, as the applicant pool was strong, including numerous individuals and collectives whose work critically engage narratives of injustice and liberation in public spaces. Ultimately, the jury recommended applicants who have demonstrated excellence in their fields, explore innovative processes and projects for public engagement, and share the common goal of building with their cohort and colleagues across the country.
The next open call for the second cohort of Monument Lab National Fellows will be announced in fall 2019. For updates, subscribe to the Monument Lab newspaper.
Bryan Lee Jr
University of Pittsburgh
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Moore College of Art and Design