5 months ago
At the beginning of the summer, we launched a brand new Appalshop Creators Fund to give out stipends of $3,000 to individual creatives located in central Appalachia.
Inspired by the amazing community response funds set up across the country and in our region, our intention was to provide relief for those on the front-lines of the two crises gripping our country: COVID-19 and anti-black racism.
We looked for Appalachians who were best positioned to amplify our region’s cultural diversity, and who were working in all sorts of mediums.
Today, we're very pleased to announce — we found them.
Dustin Hall is a queer painter from Neon, Kentucky who lives just up the road from Tiffany Pyette. An indigenous, two-spirit visual artist, Tiffany is also a poet, like Misty Skaggs, another Kentucky visual artist who wrote poetry specifically for the Creators Fund.
Ty Murray, from Knoxville, and Michael T. Crawford, from Huntington, both work behind the camera. Ty's photographs show us that "Black is more than a color," while Michael's videography continues the spirit of his original project #iamhuntington, creating positive stories about the city's inhabitants.
Jessica Sturgell's printmaking in Delbarton, West Virginia grapples with the queer experience, just like trans performance artist Marcus Floravante's work as an activist stiltwalker, member of a feminist cabaret, and puppeteer.
Amira Sakalla, a poet and visual artist from Tennessee, is living as a member of the Palestinian diaspora. Her self-portraiture echoes the autobiographical visual art Veronica Jackson creates in Bedford, Virginia to interrogate the idea of black women's invisibility. In Big Stone Gap, rapper Geonoah Davis is working on a new EP.
We are thrilled to fund all of these creative Appalachians' work.
When we first responded to the horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many more, we issued a call to work together to dismantle anti-Black racism in Appalachia.
And when COVID-19 first began to spread here at home, all of our programming was designed to safely bring our communities together.
It’s time to work together again. We know that arts and cultural work don’t just happen in organizations or professional studios, and we're thrilled to amplify voices that are just as grassroots as the movements we’re seeing in our country.
Creators Fund recipient Marcus Fioravante perhaps said it best: "Art is a necessary tool for liberation, a catalyst for change. Inciting collective joy incites collective resistence. It's the truth of my life to support that."
Ours, too, Marcus.