The New City Arts Fellowship at Welcome Gallery was piloted in 2021 to support six Charlottesville-area artists from January-June 2021 working on projects related to the theme Next Breath: History, Hate, Possibility, written by Maurice Wallace.
(Above) Installation view of work created by 2021 Artist Fellow, LaRissa Rogers
2021 FELLOWSHIP THEME: Next Breath: History, Hate, Possibility
Written by Maurice Wallace
Today, many Americans are registering their outrage at systematic racism, especially as the public murders of George Floyd and Eric Garner by violent asphyxiation recall a real and metaphorical history of race, criminality and suffocation. African Americans’ struggle to freely breathe in real and metaphorical ways is not new but now coincides with a dangerous virus that risks compromising everyone’s ability to breathe who contracts it even as it disproportionately impacts those in vulnerable communities susceptible to chronic illness and death.
New City Arts invited artists to submit proposals with work that deeply and imaginatively related to or addressed “breath” as the essence of life and freedom. What materials, sounds, and movements best aid the visualization or vocalization of breath as critical to our common survival? How does the present COVID-19 pandemic complement or complicate the urgency of breath and a climate conducive to respiratory health and flourishing? Conversely, how might we imagine breath joyfully? As celebration, bliss, vitality?
All Charlottesville-area artists including those who live in the counties of Albemarle, Greene, Nelson, and Louisa were encouraged to apply, especially (but not limited to) artists who have considered the causes and consequences of the strangled freedoms of oppressed populations.
We invited artists to consider everyday sounds, movements, and objects (masks, inhalers, filters, ventilators, fans, flags, chimes, weathervanes, garden spinners, plants, etc.) as well as public landmarks (statues, windmills, towers, tunnels, parks, amphitheaters, etc.) as they relate to breath, existence, belief, and daily life. Works might explore breath in one or more of the following contexts: biology, justice, climate, health/illness, environment, fashion, housing, design, history, religion.
ABOUT THE FELLOWSHIP: Following a competitive application process, six Charlottesville-area artists were selected by a committee (2021 Selection Committee: Maurice Wallace, Sarah Boyts Yoder, and Horace Ballard) for month-long fellowships at Welcome Gallery.
Each artist received free work space, a $400 stipend, and a stocked pantry with their favorite drinks and snacks. Selected artists were expected to use the gallery for at least 5-10 hours per week during the 1-month that they were given a fellowship. During the final week of each fellowship, artists had the option to invite the public to engage with their work online or by free, private appointment at Welcome Gallery. 2021 New City Arts Fellows were Ashon Crawley, LaRissa Rogers, Somé Louis, Joey Bostock, Joumana Altallal, and Tobiah Mundt.
This program was supported by a Community Recovery & Catalyst grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation and Maurice Wallace and Pam Sutton-Wallace.