Fall 2020 Presenters
Wednesday, September 16, 6-7 p.m.
Shawana Brooks is a spoken word poet, memoirist, author and avid public speaker whose art revolves around all things literary. Her art revolves around personal storytelling fused to issues of social justice from medical and maternal concern to civic engagement. In her Jacksonville, Florida community she also functions as a community curator, art consultant and owner of a public arts agency who works to amplify Black artists through representation and communication.
Her role as a curator has evolved from the programming she did for the Main Library as the first official curator for the City of Jacksonville. There she sought to reflect the depth of artistic expression in a city of almost one million people. Her aim was often less about presenting a perfect experience and more about bringing access and inclusion. Often artists, especially minority artists are often left out of opportunities to exhibit or perform their art, and Brooks works to break the barriers.
Recognized by her peers early in her career she received the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, Robert Arleigh White Award for Artist Advocacy. She was the first black person to win the award (2018) and has been nominated for the Council’s highest award, the Helen Lane Founder Award. She is a recipient of the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida Art Venture’s Individual Artist Grant. The Yellow House Gallery hosted her first arts exhibition centered through her writing, “Magic, Mirth and Mortality: Musings on Black Motherhood.” Her current projects include placemaking through her Art Consulting Business, the 6 Ft Away Gallery, and the public art project Color Jax Blue. In all of these roles she is supported by her artner & husband, painter Roosevelt Watson III.
Wednesday, September 16, 6-7 p.m.
Hope McMath is a cultural leader, educator, artist, and activist whose knowledge of, and passion for, the arts is matched by a strong commitment to social justice and generating positive change in organizations and the community. She connects the arts to community needs including education, accessibility, the environment, wellness, and inclusion and diversity. A Florida native, McMath earned a bachelor’s degree in visual art and art history and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Jacksonville University. She served at The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens for 22 years, the last eight as its executive director. During her time at The Cummer Museum, from her early years as a museum educator through her tenure as director, McMath implemented art programs, education outreach, and facility expansions that increased the Cummer’s relevance and reputation. Her commitment to using the arts to lift up conversations around education, race, equity, and universal human rights has been recognized with the OneJax Humanitarian Award (2016), the EVE Award (2012), a Cultural Icon Award from the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville (2016), the Frances Kinne Alumni of Distinction Community Service Award (2017), and the Educational Service Award from the Atlantic Institute (2017).
Wednesday, September 16, 6-7 p.m.
Artist, educator, curator, administrator, and writer Jessica Borusky’s experience spans nonprofits galleries and art centers, civic entities, and educational institutions. Borusky received a B.A. at New College of Florida in Art and Gender Studies and an M.F.A. in Studio Art from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, with a concentration in performance, and studied gender studies through the Women and Gender Studies Consortium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, culminating in a research-based thesis in video and live performance. They hold a certification in nonprofit management from the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, served as executive and artistic director at Living Arts of Tulsa, and curator for the Art in the Loop Foundation at the Downtown Council of Kansas City. Their practice utilizes historical and colloquial language and objects to invoke American exceptionalism, personal narrative, art history, accumulation, and failure: creating a satirical space for examining social and intersectional relationships concerning “progress.”
Wednesday October 7, Noon-1 p.m.
Yvette Angelique, is an award-winning poet, teaching artist, and proven culture change strategist. She is author of poetry chapbooks, Shut Eyes See, and Intimate Moments. Her poems appear in Bucks County Journal, and Sonia Sanchez’s mural arts anthology Peace is a Haiku Song. Yvette’s essays, book chapters, and articles are located in various publications and contribute to the discourse of personal and social change. She is on the editorial board for Practicing Social Change. Her audio chapbook, Something Old, New, Borrowed, and The Blues, (EAT Poems) is scheduled for release in September 2020.
Elizabeth “Lizz” Straight
Wednesday October 7, Noon-1 p.m.
Elizabeth “Lizz” Straight has been on the spoken word scene internationally for over 20 years. This native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast has held rank as one of the United States’ top spoken word artists. She is also an accomplished radio personality and social activist. Born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi and partly raised in the no holds barred streets of South Philadelphia, the way she steps to the mic is gritty and in-your-face as much as it is literary, poised and graceful.
Rion Amilcar Scott
Thursday, November 5, 6-7 p.m.
Ron Amilcar Scott is the author of the story collection, The World Doesn’t Require You (Norton/Liveright, August 2019), a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. His debut story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016), was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Hillsdale Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His work has been published in journals such as The New Yorker, The Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, and The Rumpus, among others. One of his stories was listed as a notable in Best American Stories 2018 and one of his essays was listed as a notable in Best American Essays 2015. He was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland and earned an MFA from George Mason University where he won the Mary Roberts Rinehart award, a Completion Fellowship and an Alumni Exemplar Award. He has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writing Conference, Kimbilio and the Colgate Writing Conference as well as a 2019 Maryland Individual Artist Award. Presently he teaches Creative Writing at the University of Maryland.
Spring 2021 Presenters
Poetry, Race & Publishing
Wednesday, February 3, Noon-1 p.m.
Join Tayve Neese and Artress Bethany White for a reading of their poetry and a conversation on race in the publishing industry. Local poet and publisher Tayve Neese runs Trio House Press, publishing authors from underrepresented groups. Artress Bethany White is the author of the poetry collection My Afmerica (2019), published by Trio House Press, as well as a collection of essays, Survivor’s Guilt: Essays on Race and American Identity (2020).
The Color of Life: Everyday People
Thursday, February 11, 6-7 p.m.
Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional, creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and contributing editor to Electric Literature. Jennifer is also the editor of the all PoC-short story anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life (Atria Books, 2018). Her fiction, nonfiction, and criticism has appeared in various print and online publications. Her website is: jennifernbaker.com.
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is the author of Powder Necklace, which Publishers Weekly called “a winning debut.” Named to the “Africa39” list of writers “with the potential and talent to define trends in the development of literature from Sub- Saharan Africa and the diaspora,” her short fiction was included in the anthology Africa39. Her work also appears in Everyday People: The Color of Life and New Daughters of Africa, among others. Forthcoming from Brew-Hammond are a children’s picture book and a novel. Brew-Hammond was a 2019 Edward F. Albee Foundation Fellow, a 2018 Aké Arts and Book Festival Guest Author, a 2017 Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar, a 2016 Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence, and a 2015 Rhode Island Writers Colony Writer-in-Residence. Every month, Brew-Hammond co-leads a writing fellowship at Manhattan’s Center for Faith and Work.
Dennis Norris II is the author of the chapbook Awst Collection — Dennis Norris II, which was named a Best Book of 2018 by Powell’s. Their writing has been supported by The MacDowell Colony, VCCA, Tin House, and the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction. The former Fiction Editor of Apogee Journal, they currently serve as Senior Fiction Editor at The Rumpus and co-host of the critically acclaimed podcast Food 4 Thot. Based in Brooklyn, they are hard at work on their debut novel.
Arts Alive Exhibition
Thursday, February 18, 7-8:30 p.m.
Visual artists Erin Kendrick, Tatiana Kitchens, and Malcolm Jackson will join us from their studios to display and discuss their work.
Friday, March 8, 7-8 p.m.
Kinney Harold is a classically trained percussionist with a music degree from the University of Maryland. He served 8 years in the United States Air Force concert, jazz and rock bands. As a jazz drummer, he has opened of Rion Lucien, Greg Osby, Terrance Blanchard, Stefon Harris and Etta Jones—all in Atlantic City, NJ. As a jazz vibraphonist he’s played in bands with national jazz artist John Blake, Bootsy Barnes, Monet Sudler and Robert Bynum. His mission is to bring all people together in harmony with his music.
Orisirisi African Folklore
Thursday, April 15, 7-8 p.m.
Orisirisi (pronounced O-re-she-re-she) African Folklore is a performing arts and arts education company that uses folktales, legends, myths, music, dance, children’s games, and other African-rooted folklore to teach, entertain, and illuminate the beauty and poignancy of African life and culture.
Greenwood Arts Project
Wednesday, April 21, 6-7 p.m.
william cordova is a lead artist for the Greenwood Art Project. He is an interdisciplinary cultural practitioner born in Pueblo Libre, Lima, Peru. He lives and works in Lima, Miami, and New York City. cordova’s work addresses the metaphysics of space and time, specifically how objects and perceptions change when we move around in space. He received a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996 and an M.F.A. from Yale University in 2004.
cordova has been an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem; American Academy in Berlin; Museum of Fine Art, Houston’s CORE program; Headlands Center for the Arts; Artpace San Antonio; Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture; and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC); among others. He has exhibited in the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. His work is included in the public collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Walker Art Center, Museo de Arte de Lima, Ellipse Foundation, Pérez Art Museum Miami, and La Casa de las Américas, among others. His work has been included in several surveys and biennials including the Whitney Biennial (2008), Greater New York at MoMA PS1 (2010), Prospect.3 (2014), 12th Havana Biennial (2015), and SITElines at SITE Santa Fe (2016).
His recent exhibitions include william cordova now’s the time: narratives of southern alchemy at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (2018); the 13th Havana Biennial (2019); In Plain Sight at Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington (2018); and on the lower frequencies I speak 4U (alquimia sagrada) at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York (2020).
Organized the AIM Biennial in Florida (2020). Forthcoming projects include solo exhibitions at Galerie Florian Schönfelder, Berlin, and 80M2 Livia Benavides, Lima.
Rick Lowe is a Houston-based artist and professor of art at the University of Houston. He has exhibited and worked with communities nationally and internationally. His work has appeared in: the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles; Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York; Phoenix Art Museum; Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju, Korea; the Kumamoto State Museum, Kumamoto, Japan; the Venice Architecture Biennale; and Documenta 14, Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece.
Rick is best known for his Project Row Houses community-based art project that he started in Houston in 1993. Additional community projects include the Watts House Project in Los Angeles, the Borough Project in Charleston, SC (with Suzanne Lacy and Mary Jane Jacobs), Anyang Public Art Program 2010 in Anyang, Korea, Trans.lation: Vickery Meadow in Dallas, TX, and Victoria Square Project in Athens, Greece. Among Rick’s honors are the Rudy Bruner Awards in Urban Excellence, the AIA Keystone Award, the Heinz Award in the arts and humanities, the Skowhegan Governor’s Award, the Skandalaris Award for Art/Architecture, and a U.S. Artists Booth Fellowship. He has served as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University, a Mel King Fellow at MIT, an Auburn University Breedan Scholar, and as the Stanford University Haas Center Distinguished Visitor. President Barack Obama appointed Rick to the National Council on the Arts in 2013; in 2014 he was named a MacArthur Fellow.
Jerica D. Wortham is a Tulsa, Oklahoma native. She is a bestselling author and award winning spoken word artist. She has been writing, and performing her poetry since a very young age and in May 2012 Jerica founded J’Parlé LLC, and started J’Parlé Literary Magazine. This endeavor gathered artists from all around the world, and provided a platform to those that were in some instances more comfortable with the pen than the mic…. The mission: to give every voice a chance to be heard. In 2013 she was presented with the opportunity to host her very first live show; and J Parle’ Live was born! An author, publisher, business coach, curator, BBC Radio writer/producer, humanitarian and philanthropist, in October 2014 she founded the J’Parlé Scholarship fund where she was able to award local students and adults with funding to continue or pursue their education. Recently Jerica began her work as the Program Director for the Greenwood Art Project. Her accolades include countless Poetry Slam Championships, featured in New York Times2020 Black Wall Street Spoken Word Artist of the Year, and YWCA’s 2021 Woman of the Year, Pinnacle Award for Arts and Humanity. When she is not working, or teaching inmates with the Department of Corrections, she enjoys spending time with her husband Webster, and their two sons Solomon and Jonah.