Meet Our Current Artists-In-Residence
"When people dig into a work of art, they no longer have to ask about its value because they know it." --Eric Booth, Arts Educator & Author
University Settlement Artists-in-Residence are selected because of the quality of their work and the open, welcoming nature of their process. These artists believe that creativity is a skill set that can be shared and learned. They have also demonstrated a commitment to restoring the notion that everybody has an artistic birthright to reclaim and, in doing so, quality of life can be improved.
Our 2019-2020 Artists-In-Residence
CELESTE STATON is a proud Brooklynite—which she affectionately calls "The People's Republic of Brooklyn"—and is a social practice artist, tenant advocate, community activist, and founding member of the Intergenerational Community Arts Council (ICAC). She is currently the President of the Atlantic Terminal Tenants' Association, Inc., serves on Community Board 2 (CB2), a member of the Economic Development Committee in CB2, and is involved in multiple community advocacy organizations. As part of the Future Historical Society at BRIC, Celeste has lead the creation of the audio installation project featuring Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (LAPC) in Fort Greene, along with Ryan Conarro and jazz artist, Eric Frazier. Celeste and the team organized story gatherings, interviews, and research sessions, creating from these a montage of voices representing the rich past and imagined future of the Church and of the Fort Greene neighborhood.
RYAN CONARRO is a creator of interdisciplinary performance and facilitator of community engagement. His upcoming solo performance work, "Saints of Failure," received a 2019 Brooklyn Arts Council grant and will run in a site-specific production at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (LAPC) this fall. Ryan is a 5-year resident of Fort Greene, where he's an active member of Fort Greene Peace and the LAPC Social Justice Committee. He's Artistic Collaborator In Residence and Community Projects Associate with Ping Chong + Company. He lived in communities in Alaska from 2001 to 2014, where his work as a radio journalist, teaching artist, and interdisciplinary maker established his ongoing practice creating a performance from documentary material. Recognitions include The TCG National Leadership U Fellowship; Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award; Connie Boochever Artist Fellowship; and three Alaska Broadcasters Association Goldie Awards. Please visit www.ryanconarro.com
QUOTE: "We are two neighbors and artistic collaborators who share a deep investment in Fort Greene, past, present, and future. We're very excited to be a part of the University Settlement Artist in Residency program to facilitate a project that we hope will cultivate connection at Atlantic Terminal Houses while also challenging us as artists and community workers. We're looking forward to eating together, talking together, and creating together! "
PERFORMANCE PROJECT: CORNERSTONE STORIES AT ATLANTIC TERMINAL will be a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary community storytelling performance event at Atlantic Terminal Houses. Celeste and Ryan will facilitate a series of story circles, interviews, and community meals, in which Atlantic Terminal residents and their neighbors are invited to share family and community histories from the housing complex and from the surrounding Fort Greene neighborhood. From this story process, Celeste and Ryan will script and stage an intergenerational performance in which these stories are performed by residents themselves. The culminating event will be an immersive, roving experience, in which audience members are guided through the Atlantic Terminal complex by the storytellers, discovering successive stories which offer a meaningful encounter with the spaces that make up the complex. The live-performed stories will be interwoven with video and audio installations, designed by Ryan, which provide glimpses of yet more Atlantic Terminal storytellers, sharing remembered pasts and imagined futures.
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: CORNERSTONE STORIES is created by, with, and for community members of the Atlantic Terminal Houses. The project throws open the doors for Atlantic Terminal residents to participate in the building's Cornerstone Program, which honors select residents who have lived in the complex for over 40 years. Originated in 2018, these recognitions were given to three residents. But the rich stories, histories, and insights of these and other community elders remain undocumented and unheard. Through this project, new Cornerstone residents will contribute to a live archive that will lift up their past and create a shared future. CORNERSTONE STORIES also answers a broader challenge at Atlantic Terminal: awakening and enlivening community participation. Too many neighbors keep to themselves; too many unique stories and histories within the complex go unshared. This project brings opportunities for connection right into the hallways, courtyards, and community center of the complex. Finally, CORNERSTONE STORIES creates a container for meaningful encounters between Atlantic Terminal residents and their neighbors in Fort Greene, which continues to rapidly change through gentrification and real estate development. The culminating event will invite Fort Greene citizens to visit the complex and meet their Atlantic Terminal neighbors, centering and amplifying stories that are the foundation of this neighborhood.
Timothy DuWhite is a writer, poet, playwright, performance artist, and activist. His work is both brave and exhilarating, and directly addresses difficult and controversial issues such as HIV, state-sanctioned violence, racism, and queerness. He has performed at the United Nations/UNICEF, Apollo Theater, Nuyorican Poet's Cafe, Brooklyn Museum, Bowery Poetry Club, BAM, Dixon Place, La Mama Theater, Issue Project Room, on the behalf of Adidas and many more. He has delivered keynote speeches and appeared at institutions such as San Diego State University, Indiana University, Columbia University, Oregon State University, John Hopkins University and many more. His writing and poetry can be found in The Rumpus, The Root, Afropunk, Black Youth Project, The Grio, and elsewhere.
His writing will be included in the forthcoming anthology The Future is Black: Afropessimism, Fugitivity and Radical Hope in Education co-edited by Michael Dumas, Ashley Woodson, and Carl Grant. A committed educator, he has facilitated workshops at New York City's legendary Urban Word, the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, Housing Works, and Rikers Island.
In the summer of 2018, Timothy debuted his one-man show NEPTUNE as the headliner for Dixon Place's "Hot Festival." Following rave reviews and sold-out performances, Timothy then restaged his show as the 2019 kick-off event for Brooklyn Museum's acclaimed "1st Saturday", where it also sold out.
A great deal of Timothy's work and activism is around HIV/AIDS and related issues. In 2015, he developed a writing workshop entitled "HIV & the State: Coalition Building beyond the Condom," in which he debunks popular narratives surrounding HIV as it relates to black people. Timothy has taught this workshop at major institutions across the country.
QUOTE: "I am so very hype to be an AIR. Community and art-making are two of my biggest passions and I believe is essential to enriching and bringing the best out of both entities. I cannot wait to get started working with University Settlement!"
PERFORMANCE PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Timothy's aim is to create a collaborative piece that explores gentrification and the general displacement of Black and Brown people in the city and the U.S. Using his background as a performance poet, playwright, and actor, the goal is to create a work that pulls on both historical and contemporary examples of these atrocities and present pathways towards urgency, mourning, reconciliation, as well as power harnessing. Timothy wants this project to be something that reinvigorates community members who have grown numb to the theft of their neighborhoods, memories, and homes. Consider this piece a siren indicating to gentrifiers that their time has run out.
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Through the use of community writing workshops, group discussions, storytelling, memory sharing, and laughter Timothy will create space to develop the work. He is particularly interested in working with native New Yorkers and Black and Brown people who have experienced displacement all across the world. The main goal is to nurture that experience—and the folks who harbor it.
The Square is a theatre collective based in New York City. The name "The Square" comes from a traditional Chinese philosophical concept: The sky is round; the ground is square. It is a metaphor for how nature and society work. The square is where people gather together to share opinions, ideas, and stories, which is exactly how we see theatre. Theatre is a public space for human beings to connect with each other and make meanings collectively. The Square is founded by two artists Jing Dong and Jiawen Hu. They collaborate on making non-traditional interdisciplinary theatre performances that explore social and political issues. They work with and for underrepresented groups on projects that aim to empower community members, celebrate their identities, and build a stronger sense of community. They generate performances through arts-based research, devising, ethnodrama, and community collaboration.
Jing is a theatre maker originally from China. She has been devising original theatre pieces that explore current issues and focus on how oppressed people navigate contemporary societies. Her works were performed in low-income neighborhoods, immigrant workers' communities, art districts, and traditional theatre spaces in China. As she continues her theatre journey in New York, she connects with immigrant communities, LGBTQ community, and female community to explore possibilities to make change through theatre.
Jiawen Hu is a theater maker and teaching artist originally from Hangzhou, China. Jiawen has been working on the interview-based theatre projects with underrepresented groups including Chinese females, undocumented immigrants, HIV positive people, and LGBTQ communities. Her work as a performer, director, and stage manager has brought her to Judson Memorial Church, The Civilians, National Queer theater, and Theaterlab. She has also served as a teaching artist with immigrant youth and multilingual learners in New York City and major cities in China.
QUOTE: "The Square is grateful for the AIR opportunity at University Settlement. We are honored to work with the settlement house community. We look forward to creating a space for community members to gather together, share stories and ideas, and reflect on both personal and communal experiences. Seeing others and ourselves, celebrating cultures and identities, and building a stronger community, are what theatre is about."
PERFORMANCE PROJECT: "We all have things that we had to leave behind when we moved from one place to another. Only after these things had disappeared from our life did we realize the absence of them. Often in our hearts rises the sorrow of not having had a proper farewell" (The Square).
The theatre project The Art of Losing explores the common human experience of losing from the perspective of immigrants. In this project, The Square wants to reactivate the sleeping memories and encourage participants to empower themselves through a meditation on the past. Through research, open workshops, ensemble building, interviews, and devising, this project provides time and space for participants to connect personal memories to a broader scope of human experiences, find echoes in other people, feel supported by fellow participants, and be inspired to step forward into the future. An interdisciplinary theatre performance consisting of words, physical movements, performance art elements, real stories, and interaction with the audience will emerge from the process of collective exploration and reflect this journey.
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: During the process, The Square provides as many opportunities as possible for community members to participate. They will welcome everyone in the settlement house community to participate in their open workshops. These workshops will center the experiences and creativity of participants. They encourage people with no theatre experience to join them because it is not professional training, but real communication that makes theatre valuable. In a later phase, they will move on to build an ensemble with participants who want to be a part of the final performance. People with immigrant experience, as well as people who are interested in the theme of losing and immigration will make up the ensemble. In this ensemble, collective inquiry and devising workshops will be conducted, so that the ensemble members gain ownership of the project and become more comfortable and capable of sharing their experiences with each other, as well as future audiences, in theatrical forms. Meanwhile, they will also conduct interviews to engage people who are willing to share outside the performance space. These interviews will be integrated into the performance. With all these ways of engaging community members, they hope the final performance will reflect the stories, thoughts, experiences, and ideas of the settlement house community.
Justina Kamiel Grayman, Ph.D., is a social interventionist creating original art and arts- and psychology-based community programming that connect people in divine and magical ways. With a BA in Psychology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Intervention from New York University, her work is at the intersection of education, art, psychology, and community organizing. Using communal arts, contemplative & embodied practices (i.e., movement), she leads groups in creating aliveness, warmth, and compassion (1) within/around individuals' bodies, (2) between people, and (3) within the institutional policies, practices, features, rituals, and norms that sustain these transformations. Through transformation at the individual, interpersonal, and institutional levels, and by focusing on the relationships and institutions central to our daily lives, Justina's original art (dance and film) and arts-based programming always aim to connect people towards communal liberation.
Her original art includes the dance films Black Man in America and Woman Versus. Black Man in America (2018) is a dance film (co-directed by Justina Grayman and Vance Brown) that explores what it means for Black men to break free. The film received tremendous community support, raising over $21K for the project from over 400 supporters and was selected by San Francisco Dance Film Festival and American Dance Festival. Her first dance film, Woman Versus (2016) explored women's collective liberation and was an official selection of American Dance Festival's Movies By Movers.
Justina is currently working on two programs. The first program, Black Man in America, is partnering with communities and universities to co-create celebrations of Black men. The second, Raw Movement, is a community movement program that connects people through their stories of internal conflict and surrender. Justina is developing Raw Movement and the movement phrases central to it as an Artist in Residence with The Performance Project at University Settlement (2019-20).
Justina began dancing in college and her professional dance experience includes being a company member in STREB Extreme Action Company (2014-16) and dancing with Kristin Sudeikis Dance (2015-present). Her love of community programming dates back as far as she can remember and her leadership in community programming crystallized in college. During her final undergraduate year at Stanford, she created a psychology-based magazine creation program for middle schoolers that allowed them to connect to each other by sharing their emotional and community concerns. During her Ph.D. at NYU, she collaborated with over 30 New York City community organizers over four years to study and reflect on the strategies they used to invite people to activism events.
In addition to creating art and community programming, Justina also teaches psychology classes at Walden University (Intergroup Conflict and Resolution, Racial and Ethnic Identities) and Manhattan School of Music. Her ultimate mission is to create and transform homes, neighborhoods, cities, and all institutions of daily life into communities of divine connection, freedom, play, and love.
QUOTE: "I am beyond grateful to move with, be with, and share with the University Settlement community. I am already grateful for the connections we will create with each other and for what we will learn from each other. I am ready to develop this class and performance into beautifully moving experiences." - With so much love, Justina
PERFORMANCE PROJECT: During her residency, Justina will be developing Raw Movement, a movement class that connects people through their moving stories. Using specific vocabulary, repetitive phrases, and exercises, individuals are guided as they newly discover their own stories and their power to viscerally move others. The experience is influenced by contemporary dance (more specifically, concert dance and dance theater), theater, gesture, and psychology.
The culminating performance will be a hybrid performance/class, where Justina and two other dancers perform some of the raw movements they have discovered that represent the conflicts and struggles many of us share in common. During the performance, the audience will be invited to participate in simple movements and exercises that unite us all (experiencing the Raw Movement class for themselves).
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Justina will develop Raw Movement by offering a regular class, open to the community to attend (adults ages 18+). In the class, participants will be guided as they repeat raw movement monologues, which are brief, rhythmic, dynamic phrases that represent our moving stories. Participants will create their own movements and tell their own stories as well. The class intends to reacquaint us with our stories, lose ourselves within our stories, and emerge within a newly connected community – one that we move and that we are moved by. Class participants will also be invited to attend the final performance and bring family/friends to share the experience
See what's going on at The Performance Project this season.
Learn More About Past Artists-in-Residence
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