BLACK WOMEN LED ARTIST RESIDENCY RESPONDS TO COVID-19 IMPACT ON NYC'S CULTURAL TERRAIN

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • August 09, 2020

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Marie Saint-Cyr

New York, NY... In 2020, performers, artists and storytellers reimagine what’s possible beyond the confines of square-shaped video calls and conferences. The creative response to crisis offers an opportunity for resistance and renaissance. As the world adjusts to a new context, Visual Muze residents find time and space to create at Nolan Park.

Savona Bailey-McClain, Executive Director & Chief Curator for The West Harlem Art Fund, Inc. has led her public art organization and curatorial collective in NYC for over twenty-two years. Nadia DeLane, a multimedia designer working in installation, film, and book arts, is the first Black woman to graduate with an MFA in Visual Narrative from the School of Visual Arts. McClain and DeLane met at a networking event hosted by The New School.

“Minutes into our first conversation, I saw that we were both committed to visual storytelling that increases visibility for underrepresented populations.” —Nadia DeLane, Director

After Coronavirus spiked in NYC, McClain was approached by The Trust for Governors Island, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, to design a free artist residency for creatives impacted by the pandemic.

“There are few residencies in this country and around the world that are led by people of color or who actively recruit people of color.” —Savona McClain, Director

The result is Visual Muze —a co-directed artist residency focused on narrative, public art and immersive visual storytelling.  Set in a two-story military house completed in 1878, residents enjoy the folk architecture and open fields of Nolan Park on Governors Island. Participants may choose to work in one of the home’s spacious studio rooms or on the sun porch surrounded by trees and outdoor gardens.

“I am so grateful to have a nurturing environment to make new dances and write stories in the middle of the pandemic. I find inspiration everyday.”   —Yehuda Hyman, Artistic Director, Mystical Feet Company in Brooklyn, NY

Visual Muze, one of 18 residencies taking place on Governors Island, has brought artists and musicians together for Memory Opus, a soundscape series derived from Covid-Diaries POC—an ongoing oral history project. Capturing the voices of people of color in quarantine, Memory Opus is a poignant immersive exhibit touching on events surrounding the pandemic, identity, and global calls for social justice.

“It’s a pleasure to sponsor the project with the West Harlem Art Fund. There are so many facets to the programming thanks to Savona’s vision and dedication to providing a great platform for the artists she believes in.” — Dario Mohr, Executive Director, AnkhLave Arts Alliance, Inc.


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