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Artist Grant 2021

Graphic Design for the Artist Grant 2021 by Unyimeabasi Udoh

Awardees – 2021


Alencia’s music is an amalgamation of colors and timbres from R&B, jazz, classical, and neo-soul. Her love for writing poetry drives the lyrical intensity of her songs. Alencia’s music tackles complex topics from societal division to love in all its forms. She released her first single “Sleeping All Year” in October 2019. Her song “Black Butterfly,” about the challenges faced by black people in America was sung and toured by the Chicago Children’s Choir. The song was also featured in A Tale of Two, a virtual performance by Hubbard Street Dance Company that premiered in October 2020.

Lorell Augustine

Lorell Augustine is a soulful singer/songwriter raised on the southeast side of Chicago in a home filled with music from gospel to R&B. She has a passion for melodic sounds and believes that good music can heal the universe. She is gifted in most genres of music and sings music with exciting rhythms and soothing sounds.

Tara Betts

Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit, Arc & Hue, and Refuse to Disappear. In addition to working as an editor, a teaching artist, and a mentor for other writers, she has taught at several universities. She is the Inaugural Poet for the People Practitioner Fellow at University of Chicago and founder of Whirlwind Learning Center. Tara can be found on twitter at @tarabetts and on instagram at @chitownbetts.

An album cover of Alencia’s single Sleeping All Year
Album cover for Lorell Jones’ song “Adonai” taken by Sandi Preston
Illinois Bicentennial Poem commissioned by Illinois Humanities and published by Candor Arts, 2019

Scott Vincent Campbell

Scott Vincent Campbell (b. 1983, New York, NY) is a visual artist and curator. He earned a BA in Fine Art from Haverford College, and currently resides in Chicago, IL where he is an MFA candidate at The University of Chicago. Grounded in the methods and traditions of assemblage and the repurposed object, his work is inspired by the materials and forms of the urban environment, the domestic interior, and vernacular architecture. Through acts of joinery, juxtaposition, arrangement, and alteration, Campbell explores our relationship to self, and how it is influenced by how others perceive us.
They Slinging Hope Again, 2021 Cardboard, hardware, MDF, wallpaper 24 x 18 inches

Alma Domínguez

Alma Dominguez was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. She emigrated 15 years ago to the Chicago area. She studied painting in Mexico, but it wasn’t until after moving to Chicago that she began to develop her technique. She is a psychologist with a Masters in Social Science, which has had a great influence on her work, focusing on political, social and environmental issues, highlighting the importance of women, minorities and the migrant community in our society. She is the founder of an International Women Collective “Pintoras Mexicanas” and co-founded OPEN Center for the Arts.
Nina S.

Colette Ghunim

As a documentary filmmaker and nonprofit co-founder, Colette Ghunim’s passion lies at the cross section of social impact and visual storytelling. Her first documentary, The People’s Girls, received over 2 million views and Best Short Documentary at the Arab Film Festival for its bold spotlight on street harassment in Egypt. As part of the Hulu/Kartemquin Accelerator Program and the 2020 BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship, she is directing Traces of Home, her first feature-length film documenting her journey back to Mexico and Palestine to locate her parents’ original homes, which they were forced to leave decades ago. Colette is also the co-founder of Mezcla Media Collective, a nonprofit organization that lifts up nearly 700 women and non-binary filmmakers of color in Chicago. and

Aaron Holland

Aaron Holland has been an active artist in Chicago for 17 years, creating performance, visual and auditory experiences from a decidedly POC and GenderQueer perspective (in every avenue possible) that seek to evoke joy and promote personal growth. You may have read his prose, seen his plays/musicals, heard his music/ podcasts, or even seen and learned from his drag persona, Shalita Cake in your cultural travels around town or on Tik Tok. After a diagnosis in 2021, much of his work is now dedicated to raising awareness for Chronic Pancreatitis.

J’Sun Howard

J’Sun Howard is a Chicago-based dancemaker, writer, curator, and arts administrator. He creates intimate performances that express generous, compassionate and loving play between Black and Brown men. J’Sun’s works have been presented at Links Hall, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Defibrillator Performance Gallery, Patrick’s Cabaret (Minneapolis, MN), Danspace Project (NYC), Center for Performance Research (NYC), Detroit Dance City Festival (Detroit, MI) and the World Dance Alliance’s International Young Choreographers’ Project (Kaohsiung, Taiwan) to name a few. He has been commissioned by Northwestern University, Columbia College Chicago, World Dance Alliance, and The Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

Still from documentary Traces of Home – Colette Ghunim and her mother, Iza Ghunim
Aaron As Shalita Cake
aMoratorium. Dedrick “D. Banks” Gray and Solomon Bowser

Dawn Renee Jones

“I’ve been fascinated by human behavior since childhood and had planned to be a psychologist. Then I discovered theatre and its unique capacity for exploring what makes people tick and why. My work as a playwright is driven by such inquiry and a need to both celebrate and caution. As a director, educator and elder it is my joy to activate and support the infinite potential in others.”

Molly Jones

Molly Jones is an improviser and composer based in Chicago. Informed by her experiences of jazz, classical, and Balkan brass musics, by experimental performance, and by a fascination with found sounds, she creates chamber compositions and electronic works in addition to maintaining an active improvisation practice. Her work originates in a place of playfulness, listening, and attention.

Roah Karim

Roah’s work revolves around the intersectional politicized Palestinian identity. They explore the essence of existence as resistance by deconstructing and shifting the narrative through visual art, resulting in the processing of intergenerational trauma. They use found object and materials that evoke a sense of familiarity to their fragmented identity to document lived experiences and history. Roah’s art provides a sense of ownership over land, culture, and being; something they can reassess and reclaim after they have been so violently taken away.
A set of metal bowls, chopsticks, and other assorted noise making objects arrayed on a carpet
DO NOT ENTER, Mud, 180 x 100 cm, 2017

Osiris Khepera

OSIRIS KHEPERA is a well-traveled, Chicago-bred, Black, Queer playwright, poet, actor, & activist. He is a member of the Playwright’s Collective at Timeline Theatre Company (2020-2022), and a Russ Tutterow Playwrighting Fellow at Chicago Dramatists Theatre (2019). Alisha Wormsley’s artistic truism: There Are Black People In The Future, is a foundational theme to much of his work, as he creates Afrofuturistic and speculative fiction pieces that celebrate the culture and kaleidoscopic variance of the African Diaspora.

Thomas Kong

Thomas Kong is an artist working in collage and assemblage, using advertising, packaging and other surplus material from his convenience store, Kim’s Corner Food, located in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Kim’s Corner Food features an evolving installation of Kong’s work, and is open to customers and visitors 7 days a week at 1371 W. Estes Ave, Chicago, IL 60626.

Jovan Landry

Jovan Landry is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist whose mission is to tell the authentic narratives of herself, the world, and others through filmmaking, photography, and hip-hop. Her goal is to reflect a positive influence and accurate representation of her community and other cultures that she contributes to through her art. Jovan disrupts the conventional concept of what it means to be a woman in this industry, not afraid to get her hands dirty, channeling her femininity and masculinity, serving articulate lyrics as an energetic force on stage.

A promotional card from Osiris’ solo show, The Fag-tionary. D’Lisha von Jankynsmurt is a drag queen returning to her glory days, and after a show at the Chicago Theatre, she’s ambushed by a reporter who forces her to deal with some hard truths.
Thomas Kong – works at Kim’s Corner Food
Jovan Landry capturing Movement Artists Keyierra Collins, KJ Light, and Aaliyah Christina during Project Tool in Set Free Performance Series

Amy Mall

Amy Mall is a Chicago based interdisciplinary artist, educator, gardener, and facilitator. Rooted in craft practices, she draws out and dialogues with the stories embodied in the materials and processes found in her environments. Amy engages with art making as a relational learning practice.

Elizabeth Myles

Elizabeth Myles is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary filmmaker and animator born and raised in Oklahoma City. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2020 with a B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies. Her interest in moving images and the possibility of freedom within structured repetitive acts drives her video and animated work, which is also informed by her ongoing classical cello practice. By combining traditional film techniques with experimental animation, her work uncovers significant themes of interior spaces and explorations of Blackness.

Felicia Oduh

Felicia Oduh is a Nigerian-American, Chicago-based actor and playwright whose work focuses on Black womanhood, identity formation, and underrepresented narratives across the diaspora. Her plays Mercy, Expecting, and Micro have been workshopped and developed with Northlight Theatre, Vertigo Productions, and Black Lives, Black Words. She can also be seen starring in OTV’s new web series How to L0ve. Felicia is an inaugural member of AGE in the Arts’ IGNITE cohort and a graduate of Northwestern University.

“Motherland”: used tincture bottles, thread and seed beads. This piece blends my experiences of mothering with inspiration from the writing of Robin Wall Kimmerer about lichen.
Love Stories, 2019, 7 minutes 25 seconds Rotoscoping, Collage, and Stop Motion Animation  From Chicago to Lawton, Oklahoma, this frame captures the beginning of her Grandparents’ love story as told by her Granddad, Maurice Myles. Through the process of making this documentary, the ability to hold each frame adds a layer of intimacy and physicality to the narrated love stories that are brought to life by experimental animations.
Virtual reading of Mercy for Northlight Theatre’s Interplay program, December 2020. Actors pictured: Shams Eugene Monteiro (left), Kelsey Scott (right), Shanesia Davis (bottom). Directed by Harry Lennix. 

Arthur Sangster

“I am a Black Queer from Saint Louis, who talks about sexual expressions and subject matters relating to my story as a Queer, with the intent of expressing these ideas and themes. That will be relatable people in LGBTQ community.”

Jacqueline Sinclair

After 30 years with Joel Hall Dancers & Center, Jacqueline Sinclair is clear that it is her life’s purpose to share and develop Urban Jazz Dance. As she moves her artistic focus from onstage to backstage, her overarching vision for choreography and artistic direction is to rise to the current collective call to healing so obviously present in our world. To rise to our current collective need for unity, she feels called to create pieces that heal the wound of separation by intentionally connecting artists and audience to Spirit and one another through movement, multimedia, and message. Sinclair holds a BA in Dance from Columbia College of Chicago, a secondary teacher’s certification from Northeastern Illinois University and an MA in Theatre from Northwestern University. She recently codified the Joel Hall Jazz Dance Method: Breathing Floor Barre. For more information visit

Hope Wang

Hope Wang is a Chicago-based artist, arts facilitator, and poet. Wang translates images of architectural “scars” in factory parking lots, construction sites, and city commutes through meticulous, repetitive processes such as handweaving and printmaking. Contending with sloppy traces of human activity around sites of industrial labour, her work considers the ways architectural spaces become artifacts of memory. She explores loss and longing, as well as questions what happens to our memories when those physical artifacts disappear or change.

“What Do you see me as?”
Choreographed by Jacqueline Sinclair titled Namo. The dancer is Moo Vang.
lai hama (toad) croaks in the church yard

Handwoven on the TC2 jacquard loom with cotton and reflective polyester and wool, mounted onto acrylic-painted canvas and stretched frame 28″ x 66″