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2021-2022 Black Spatial Relics Artists In Residence And Micro Grantees Announced


2021-2022 Black Spatial Relics artists in residence include Alexandra Espinoza (Philadelphia, PA), Arielle M John (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago), and more.

2021-2022 Black Spatial Relics Artists In Residence And Micro Grantees Announced

Black Spatial Relics is a new performance residency about slavery, justice, and freedom. The residency annually supports the development of new performance works that address and incorporate public histories of slavery and contemporary issues and pursuits of justice and freedom. Founded in 2016, at Brown University, Black Spatial Relics is now in its third year as a residency program and is now an independent project.

This year they have opened their program to artists in the Caribbean! 2021-2022 Black Spatial Relics artists in residence include Alexandra Espinoza (Philadelphia, PA), Arielle M John (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago), LaRissa Rogers (Charlottesville, VA / Los Angeles, CA), Sonja Dumas (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago), Candice D'Meza (Houston, TX), Awilda Sterling (San Juan, PR), nikolai mckenzie ben rema (Bronx, NY), and Monèt Marshall (Durham, NC).

Diane Exavier and Carlos Sirah will be joining them as their Dramaturgs in Residence.

This cohort of remarkable artists was selected by a panel of Black arts makers and leaders including Wit Lopéz (Philadelphia, PA), Brandon Sheats (Atlanta, GA) and Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow (New York, NY). Artists-in-Residence receive 2,500.00 in project support, dramaturgical support and presenting opportunities at the 2022 Black Spatial Relics Convening.

2021-2022 Artists-in-Residence

Alexandra Espinoza is the creator of "All My Mothers Dream in Spanish". This play is a blending of Alexandra's Afro-Venezuelan family history with the public history of El Negro Miguel el Rey, who reigned as the king of a sovereign nation established in the Venezuelan rainforest where Black and Indigenous maroons sought liberation during the1550s. Alexandra will be joined in this work with Movimiento AfroLatino de Seattle (MAS), whose mission is to uplift the "orgullo de negritud" that is at the heart of the Afro-Latinx experience. Their hope is to continue to build moments of collective celebration and healing into the play, and into MAS's public convenings for Black Latinx folx in order to recreate spiritual connections and practices that are our rightful tools for liberation.

Arielle M John is the creator of "Eco_Logic". "Eco_Logic" is a one-woman, spoken word theatre piece, where one can map the way together and dance backwards to move forward. The Working Title 'Eco_Logic' (a finessing of 'ecological') gazes deeply into the binaries of the feminine as illogical, irrational and not operating based on sound reason. All of which the main character (Mother Earth) has stood as a symbol for in the eyes of Trinbagonian society. She is partnering with The Sacred Spirit Sisterhood in Trinidad & Tobago who ushers in the cultivation of self-healing and transformation for women as well as the wider collective.

LaRissa Rogers is the creator of "A Poetic of Living". "A Poetic of Living" is a project that uses soil to articulate Black aliveness and resilience given how closely Black people are indexed to death. By posing alternative modes of temporality and existence, amnesia is explored through the ways it is built into our quotidian spaces and influences our concept of history, stories remembered, things preserved, maintained, unaltered, or allowed to remain still. Using a gesture of what it means to memorialize that is not linked to a Eurocentric framework of what it means to remain, such as a monument, a performance where Black folks' bodies from the Charlottesville community will be cast out of Virginia soil. Celosia will then be grown on the soil bodies and the bodies buried back into the earth as ephemeral monuments, excavating the hidden histories that are whitewashed from the city's landscape. Larissa is partnering with the Arts Center in Orange, Virginia.

Sonja Dumas is the creator of "Bodies of Memory (Rumination 1"). This work considers the immersive and liminal influences of the Atlantic Ocean and how these intersect with the interiority of physical, neurobiological and psychological terror that African bodies would have faced in the Middle Passage moment. The aim is to interrogate how the Middle Passage might have informed contemporary movement habits of people of Trinidad and Tobago. Sonja is partnering with Medulla Art Gallery in the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Candice D'Meza is the creator of "WAIL". "WAIL" is a digital film + ritual theater performance, conceived by Candice D'Meza that engages the broader Houston community in the co-creation of a grief ritual to honor the 95 Black persons who died at a Sugar Land, Texas convict leasing camp between 1877-1912 (known as the 'Sugarland 95'). The performance itself is informed by the funerary traditions of Blacks in the Antebellum South, the Dagara of Burkina Faso, the Yoruba of Nigeria, thev Bakongo and Haitian Vodou. Candice is partnering with DiverseWorks in Houston, Texas.

Awilda Sterling is the creator of "Soy la re-encarnación de un alma esclavizada/I am the Reincarnation of an Enslaved Soul". This work is a fictionalized, mixed-media performance based on the history of the founding of the sector where Awilda lives and will perform. San Mateo de Cangrejos, as it is historically known, was the first dwelling of freed enslaved peoples in the 16th Century, The sector is currently under intense threat of gentrification. Awilda is partnering with Taller Comunidad la Goyco in San Juan, Puerto Rico. nikolai mckenzie ben rema is the creator of "saltire". "saltire" is a storied retelling of ancestral stories through a queer Caribbean lens and re imagined from found documents, incorporating nikolai's present day realities and hopes for the future. Saltire is a conjuring of spirits convening to support nikolai's queer ass lived experience this lifetime in the shadow of an empire that left homophobia in its residue. nikolai is partnering with BAAD- Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Home of Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre & The Bronx Dance Coalition.

Monèt Marshall is working with Historic Stagville on a project that aims to transform Stagville from a site of history to a site of healing. The guiding question is, "What if the Black body, in both the individual and collective sense, is the most important site chronicling the history and legacy of slavery? How would we resource, support and protect Black play, Black joy, Black grief and Black rest?" Monèt , along with descendants of Stagville's enslaved community, local artists and community members are designing programs that create space for healing on and with the land that harmed us. They are contracted to create a permanent reflection space at Horton Grove, a section of Stagville that houses original slave cabins. They will also create a temporary art installation to accompany it. They are working to create a sound portal/audio experience that can be used as a selfdirected walking tour or listened to independently.

2021 Dramaturgs-in-Residence

Diane Exavier is a writer, theatermaker, and educator whose work resides at the intersection of performance and poetry. A 2021 Jerome Foundation Finalist, Diane's book-length lyric The Math of Saint Felix was recently published by The 3rd Thing. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Carlos Sirah grew up in the Mississippi Delta. Sirah is a writer, performer, and culture worker. Sirah creates formal structures rooted in Black expressions of possibility that take the shape of concert, lyric prose, procession, and theatre. Sirah's debut hybrid book, The High Alive: An Epic Hoodoo Diptych, was published by

The 3rd Thing in 2020.

2021 Micro Grantees

In 2020, Black Spatial Relics launched the Black Spatial Relics Micro Grants for Community Care and Collective Research. Through that program, we funded 11 projects around the country that centered research on Black liberatory practices and spaces for community care in the face of Covid-19. Need is still high, and we are entering our second year of offering these awards. In 2021 the following body of artists received micro grants. They include:

Nikki Brake-Sillá (Philadelphia, PA) with "from", Sydnie L. Mosley Dances

(New York, NY) with "What does PURPLE sound like?", Qiara Riley

(Philadelphia, PA) with Cornbread: A Black Ceramics Kitchen, GOODW.Y.N.

(New York, NY) with "Ghost of Myself and You: Mothers of the Disappeared",

Sanchel Brown/ Nubienne Productions (Philadelphia, PA) with "Home to

Homeland", Jessica Valoris (Washington, DC) with "Ode to Zipporah", Liseli

A. Fitzpatrick, PhD (Wellesley, MA) with "Seen and Heard", Maya Simone Z

(Brooklyn, NY) with "wild river dances", Barbara Prézeau Stephenson

(Montreal, Canada) and Arielle Sereia (New Orleans, LA) with collaborators

Blair Smith, Analise Sesay, Rochelle Wilburn, and Paris "cyan" Cian.

These awardees will be working on their collective care and research projects over the coming months.

For more information about the artists in residence, their work, past artists in residence, and the 2021 micro grantees, visit

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