A Blade of Grass Announces Inaugural ABOG Fellows for Socially Engaged Art

A Blade of Grass is pleased to announce the inaugural recipients of the ABOG Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art!

Six artists and one artist collective—Brett Cook, Pablo Helguera, Fran Ilich, Norene Leddy & Liz Slagus, Jan Mun, Laurie Jo Reynolds, and Jody Wood—will receive an ABOG Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art, a one-year fellowship that pairs $20,000 in unrestricted project support with strategic assistance, assessment and documentation of each project, access to facilities, and other tailored resources. Fellows applied via a nationwide open call that yielded 510 initial applicants and were chosen for their outstanding artistic ability, the innovative and ambitious quality of their proposed projects, and the viability of their projects in everyday life. Two independent selection committees made up of a diverse group of arts professionals with administrative, artistic, community organizing and curatorial experience evaluated applicants’ proposals and made respective first and second round selections.

About the ABOG Fellows for Socially Engaged Art

BRETT COOK is an artist and educator, who uses his creative practice to explore and transform outer and inner worlds of being. His project, Reflections of Healing (ROH), promotes health equity through participatory public art installations and wellness clinics. There will be two iterations of ROH, one at the Oakland Museum of California, and the other at “Life Is Living,” an annual event in DeFremery Park, Oakland.

PABLO HELGUERA is a pioneer of socially engaged artistic practice and currently the Director of Adult and Academic Programs at MoMA. His ABOG Fellowship will be used to realize Librería Donceles, a non-profit itinerant bookstore of twenty thousand used Spanish-language books and accompanying programming, in Red Hook, Brooklyn, for 2-3 months in the spring of 2015.

FRAN ILICH is a media artist, essayist and novelist. His project, the Diego de la Vega Coffee Co-op, will connect rural agricultural workers in Mexico’s Zapatista communities and service industry laborers in New York City by serving Zapatista-grown coffee at catered events throughout the city. Diego de la Vega Coffee Co-op will be additionally financed by Spacebank, an ongoing art project and virtual community investment bank founded by Ilich in 2005.

NORENE LEDDY AND LIZ SLAGUS have been collaborators since 2008 focusing on developing radical pedagogies that combine art, reproductive health, and participatory tools. Their ABOG Fellowship will support SexEd as it initiates an artist residency at the school-based health center and develops an arts-based sexual health curriculum at Washington Irving High School Campus in New York City.

JAN MUN is an artist and amateur mycologist, microbiologist, and beekeeper. Her project, Greenpoint Bioremediation Project (GBP), will explore using biological agents to remediate toxins in collaboration with local partners and the community in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This work will later be incorporated into community development along Newtown Creek, a polluted industrial maritime waterway and Superfund site.

LAURIE JO REYNOLDS is an artist, policy advocate, and researcher, who has dedicated two decades of work to addressing the negative representations of people in prison. Her ABOG Fellowship will support her current project, Honey Bun Comedy Hour (HBCH), a variety show co-created with currently and formerly incarcerated people and their family members to depict everyday realities of prison life.

JODY WOOD is an artist who utilizes video, installation, performance, and community organization to engage with socially charged content. Her ABOG Fellowship will support her ongoing project, Beauty in Transition, and create a mobile beauty salon that will serve New York City homeless shelters.

For more information on the ABOG Fellows for Socially Engaged Art, click HERE.

About the ABOG Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art
Through active training, incubator-style workshops and professional consultations, the Fellows will be given tools to assess their own progress, as well as gain feedback from peers, community stakeholders, and objective, third-party evaluators. A Blade of Grass will also produce three-to-five minute documentaries on each project that will be accessible on the ABOG website. Such online resources will extend the experience of these works beyond their immediate communities and illustrate some of the distinct challenges and advantages presented by socially engaged art. This documentation will complement the online debates, studies and resources that make up ABOG’s online “DISCUSS” forum and public programs. Collectively, these resources will bring clarity and excitement to socially engaged art through inclusive discussions on key topics and through direct exposure to these and other ambitious artworks.

A Blade of Grass is committed to supporting individual artists via its fellowship program for the next five years. Over this time frame the program will amass fifty case studies that will serve a larger discourse about the value of socially engaged art—how it works, what it looks like, and how projects might be compared.

Thank you First Field!
The ABOG Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art is made possible by the generous First Field contributions of our board members and friends, and by the leading support of our esteemed Groundbreakers, Agnes Gund, Eva Haller, Shelley Frost Rubin, and Linda Schejola.

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Brett CookFran IlichJan MunJody WoodLaurie Jo ReynoldsPablo HelgueraSexEd
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