April 23, 2019

Creative Arts Award Winners

The Studio is proud to announce the 2019 winners of the Creative Arts Awards! Heron Splinter will conduct research on using performance art to break down the walls of isolation in society. Samuel EklundGodwill Oke, and Deryk Gonzalez will initiate a new venue in the basement of their rented home for performers of all types to share their art with the community, thus making Madison a more vibrant and artistic place for all.

We look forward to hearing updates on these projects!

Here’s an update from Jasmine Kiah, 2017 recipient:

The Humane Experiment was created in 2017 as a play, but shortly expanded into is a series of shows and perfomances that uses interdisciplinary artistic mediums to examine how blackness responds and reacts to white supremacy and a capitalist society. The series focuses it attention on black and brown students at UW–Madison and people of color living in Madison. For the past two years, The Humane Experiment short performances have been featured in many on-campus events, but May 1st will be the first full production of The Humane Experiment; focusing it’s attention on dance, poetry, and film to fulfill its purpose.

I am very honored to have been provided this opportunity by The Studio, The Campus Women’s Center, and ASM! Can’t wait to see you all there!

The Human Experiment will take place Wednesday, May 1 at 7:00 pm at the Play Circle, Memorial Union. Doors open at 6:30 pm.  Click here to watch a preview video of the series!

Read below to hear what 2018 winner Duncan Slagle has to say about his experience with the Creative Arts Award.

Due to the support of The Studio and the Division of the Arts, I was able to travel to Florence, Italy in May 2018 to develop a poetry manuscript I have been drafting since beginning two of my majors in the Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies department at UW–Madison.

Once in Florence, I continued research I had been conducting back on campus. I visited historic cultural sites, witnessed art, and held conversation across language with many queer people who had lived in Italy their entire lives. These conversations were mostly about queer experiences growing up, coming out (or if the interviewee had any interest in doing so), and what modern queer (sub)culture looks like in Italy. Through these informal interviews, I tried to draw connection between the stories I was hearing, American narratives surrounding Western Mediterranean queerness, and the Greek & Roman myth I’ve been reading in translation. Interviewees’ perspectives on queer identities, as they specifically relate to the literary origin of Greek & Roman myth, were the thread I used to string my manuscript together.

The manuscript, currently titled “Mirror Study” utilizes both the literal and literary landscape(s) of Ancient Greek and Roman mythology, in an attempt to imagine contemporary Queerness and queer sexual ritual in its most organic, primordial form. The interviews appear in slightly altered, interpreted forms, with the goal of capturing a dramatic characteristic of queer speech which I think better mirrors the dialogue of ancient stories. In trying to question the language assigned to queer bodies and identities, I tried to capture these conversations in ways that problematize, frustrate, and elicit all the queerest experiences—lust, desire, fear, loss, etc. By doing so, my hope is that the manuscript will stitch the past, the present, the future, the personal within the political, the figures of myth, the stories of reality, the question of language and definition all together—some queer, impossible tapestry.

I am so grateful to The Studio and the Division of the Arts for their support in helping me develop this manuscript.

Finally, check out 2018 recipient Shasparay Lightheard‘s reflections on the inaugural Black Arts Matter Festival.

Shasparay LightheardIt has been several weeks since the final event of the first ever Black Arts Matter Festival in Madson, Wisconsin, and during my spring break that I spent in Oakland, California I was able to reflect. 

BAM FEST went from a dream, to a grant proposal, to an obligation and took several turns and twists before it materialized to what was the actual festival. 

This happened all in a span of less than 8 months. 

Before this festival, I had never produced or planned an event. I was a sophomore when I received the Studio Service Learning Grant from the Division of the Arts and before that I had done no grant writing. I actually was using this grant application as practice to get feedback on my application from an advisor. Then I got it. That was the push for me to create this thing. I had no idea that this would take over my life, and connect me to the community in a meaningful way.

So I am existing in this twilight zone that is Madison, Wisconsin. I am a Black woman, attending a major university with no connection to the community, very few people I knew, and a homesickness that I had never experienced in my life, although I was a frequent traveler. I traveled to different states for poetry competitions so frequently my freshman year that it became a standing joke between classmates. “ What city were you in this weekend” I traveled so much because I yearned for connection to other artists in the community. 

A friend I met in Boston at one of the many Poetry festivals I attended gave me something valuable. Before heading to the airport she gave me a bracelet that I told her I had liked earlier in that long night full of laughs and connection. This small and simple piece had a powerful statement on it. It read,” Bloom where you are planted”. I took that to heart. How could I bloom? How could I improve this space that I felt so oppressed by? This was the impetus for the festival.

I said all that to say, challenge your surroundings. Challenge others, and most importantly, challenge yourself. I am so proud of Madison, for allowing this festival to exist and I am proud of the community for its support. Things really can change. Create the space that you wish existed. Always. You can improve your world.