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Twelve Atlanta artists working in diverse media have won the latest grants from Idea Capital, an Atlanta independent arts-funding group. They’ll share a total of $14,600 in increments from $500 to $5,000.

Ideal Capital believes:

  • In supporting risk-taking art.
  • Creating community.
  • Making Atlanta a viable center for working artists.
  • Establishing a democratic network of investors.
  • And celebrating the role that individual artists play in creating a vibrant cultural environment.

The artists that Idea Capital chooses demonstrate a commitment to its mission of recognizing work not likely to be funded by more traditional revenue sources, it said in a press release. This year’s winners will all take on the twin themes of isolation and digital connection in the age of COVID-19.

Kendall Bessent photo 2020

“Amadou” is a 2020 photograph by grantee Kendall Bessent. (Courtesy of the artist)

The work ranges from an installation by sculptor Sonya Yong James and topics of Black resistance and resilience in photo projects by Kerri Garrett and Kendall Bessent, plus dance work by Jessica Bertram and an evening of poetry and music from spoken-word artist Ashlee Haze.

In addition to Bessent and Bertram, Garrett, Haze and James, the 2021 recipients are writer Abraham Johnson; multidisciplinary artists Amina Daugherty, Artemus Jenkins, Daniela Rodriguez and Erik Thurmond; visual artists Craig Drennen and Sergio Suárez; and Kathleen Wessel, who’s a movement artist, director, choreographer and writer.

Look for these projects in the coming year:

FROM JESSICA BERTRAM. The choreographer will use her grant to develop a full-length production of her dance work about two resilient Black women navigating the life in contemporary America. In Our Hair Feels Like Flower Petals, she says, “the choreographic process researches how Black women move forward, rebuild the communities they occupy and how they heal themselves mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.”

FROM AMINA DAUGHTERTY. Her Sunder, Disorientation, Disapora is a sculptural project that examines the disconnect between African and African American people via a series of busts that will combine African and contemporary imagery to interrogate that divide. “The goal is to cause the observer to feel confused, lost and to question where it comes from,” she says.

FROM CRAIG DRENNEN. The artist is the founder of the THE END Project Space on Atlanta’s Southside. His grant will fund the 2021-22 exhibition year there, including an additional build-out of the space.

FROM KERRI GARRETT + KENDALL BESSENT. The Shadows Whispered Secrets is a collaborative dance photography project based on Black family legacy and lineage and the shadow of slavery and oppression.

FROM ASHLEE HAZE. The spoken-word artist will create Poets for the Revolution: A Virtual Protest, a music-and-poetry performance on themes of social justice, civil rights and the revolution. Haze is the winner of the Margaret Kargbo Artist as Activist Grant, named for the Idea Capital steering committee member who died in May 2015. This grant goes to a project that embodies Kargbo’s commitment to social justice.

“It Is: As a Revelation, time presents itself” is a 2020 woodcut print on muslin by grantee Sergio Suárez.

FROM SONYA YONG JAMES. Interwoven Ballad, an installation piece and soundscape that envisions a meditation on the loneliness of isolation and our digital connection amid COVID. It will include her signature fiber materials and her own experience with COVID. James won Ideal Capital’s Antinori Visual Artist Grant for this project, dedicated to an artist working in traditional and nontraditional 2-D and 3-D media.

FROM ARTEMUS JENKINS. His FREE WIFI project imagines a wake for a dead Black man and uses digital elements and a physical installation to examine the limitations to social mobility and technology that can impact advancement in the world. “Without access, one’s potential for growth is severely disadvantaged,” Jenkins says. This grant will help him work toward the 2021 Atlanta Biennial, Virtual Remains, at the Atlanta Contemporary.

FROM ABRAHAM JOHNSON. The writer will use his grant to overhaul and expand his script about grief and food and workshop it with a team of nonbinary/trans actors and a director.

FROM DANIELA RODRIGUEZ. Her experimental film Rodent Country will combine illustration, sculpture, animation and live action to look at how ordinary activities help us experience mindfulness and appreciate beauty. The finished film will be a collaborative, multi-voiced work/meditation on life during COVID.

FROM SERGIO SUÁREZ. His The Sublime Process of Becoming will incorporate massive-in-scale woodcuts that will be displayed alongside the resulting prints. He’ll also produce an ongoing series of wood sculptures about fire.

FROM ERIK THURMOND. Action Board Services: Atlanta is the artist’s anticipated TV show, blending elements of reality TV, documentary, variety show and experimental film. A collaborative performance is part of his plan.

FROM KATHLEEN WESSEL. Her HereAFTER, Episode 3 is part of an ongoing, episodic theater piece about grief and a matriarch’s death told in a series of unusual performing spaces. This iteration will use a seven-story downtown parking deck and ask, “How did we get here? How do we find a way through?”

Idea Capital is a grassroots initiative founded in 2008 to jump-start Atlanta-based artist-initiated projects that might not otherwise be supported. The group and its grants are funded entirely through donations from Atlanta artists and arts supporters. Since its inception, Idea Capital has awarded $136,635 in grants to 116 artists.

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