Camille Acker, Writer
“I don't want my work to be easily consumed, easily digested. I hope the jagged edges of characters who aren't ‘likeable’ and the odd premises of my stories catch in the reader's throat.”
Acker’s multi-genre novels and short stories interrogate race, class, and gender, contrasting the societal expectations and self-determined identities of Black women and girls. Her writing exposes the “humor in systems that are inherently absurd,” she says, to grapple with racial power dynamics and "imagine new worlds without constraint.”
Maia Chao, Interdisciplinary artist
“I am drawn to working at various in-betweens as an artist: in between the art museum and the public, the art gallery and the artist, the art organization and its contract workers.”
Chao’s work in performance, video, sculpture, and social practice investigates systems of value and power within formal and informal institutions such as museums, economic structures, and families. Often playful and humorous, her projects invite collaborations with the public and reveal opportunities for cultural institutions to become more communal spaces.
Sabaah Folayan, Writer and director
“I make work in which viewers occupying different social positions can eavesdrop on one another’s subjectivity and notice where their own viewpoint is located relative to others’.”
In fictional and documentary films and writing, Folayan engages with her collaborators and subjects through a holistic and trauma-informed approach, guided by principles of behavioral science and social justice. Examining Black, American, and female identities, her work presents multiple subjectivities within the same narrative, “rejecting the belief that difference is insurmountable,” she says.
Denice Frohman, Poet and performer
“What draws me to poetry is that it allows for multiplicity; it’s a form meant to hold more than one thing at one time.”
Frohman writes and performs poetry that centers cultural preservation, particularly that of her Puerto Rican heritage and queer communities. Inspired by the Nuyorican literary tradition and what she describes as the “communal alchemy of gathering,” she frequently performs her narrative and rhythmic poetry aloud to create intimate connections with audiences.
Adebunmi Gbadebo, Visual artist
“With my use of the land and body as material I am asserting literal Black bodies and Black spaces within an artistic canon that historically denies our influence.”
Gbadebo’s multimedia practice surfaces the often overlooked lives, creativity, labor, and oppression of people who were enslaved in the American South. She works with materials that carry cultural significance and memory, such as indigo dye, rice, cotton, and red earth hand-dug from a plantation where her ancestors once toiled and are currently buried.
Jesse Krimes, Visual artist
“My work frequently incorporates beauty...to draw viewers into an intimate examination of more brutal, visceral, or challenging content.”
Krimes uses materials such as prison bedsheets, used clothing, and bars of soap to probe systems of power, with a particular focus on criminal and racial justice. He draws from his own past experiences in prison and works with currently and formerly imprisoned people to illuminate their humanity and the societal impact of mass incarceration.
James Maurelle, Visual artist
“A dance...between destruction, creation, and possible calamity is forever existent when I create objects.”
Inspired by five generations of tradesmen and woodworkers in his family history, Maurelle’s sculptures in wood, metal, and found materials consider the relationship between labor and creativity. His works, which also include video and photography, speak to memory, history, and place and often commemorate influential Black activists, athletes, and the African diaspora.
Odili Donald Odita, Visual artist
“I want to open painting to complex and nuanced cultural perspectives. I want to open painting to difference and to possibility, however it can be imagined.”
Odita uses color and pattern in abstract paintings, murals, and other public artworks that place African art and culture in dialogue with Western aesthetics. His large-scale pieces speak to issues of cultural diversity, his experiences as a Nigerian-born artist, and what he describes as “an embrace of all that is African despite one’s location in the world.”
Asali Solomon, Writer
“Artistically I am committed to the precision, power, and imaginative capacity of language. And jokes.”
Solomon’s novels and short stories portray the lives of Black Philadelphians in a city contending with the transformational effects of gentrification. Through a combination of reality, memory, imagination, and humor, Solomon situates her work in what she describes as “a multi-ethnic, culturally fertile space characterized by a diversity of Black identities.”
James Allister Sprang, Multidisciplinary artist
“I create sensory audiovisual poems for the spirit...[and] space to lower the mind into the body in order to find transformation and restoration.”
Sprang creates audiovisual installations using multiple mediums such as photography, cyanotype prints, and spatial audio technology that gives sound dimension and movement—offering “the opportunity to feel through the unseen,” he says. Informed by his family’s Caribbean heritage and experiences of immigration, his work considers diaspora, displacement, and survival.
Ada Trillo, Photographer
“I see myself as an artist...who wants to capture the essence of people who are being mistreated. I want to make their plights seen.”
Trillo documents the migration of people through Central America and the US-Mexico border while traveling alongside her subjects through dangerous conditions. Trillo typically exhibits images in black and white, which she says places the focus on her protagonists and captures “the spark, the feelings in their eyes.”
Cesar Viveros, Visual artist
“I use my art to heal social wounds, bring communities together, and call attention to spaces where valuable work is being done and needs support.”
Viveros creates murals, public art projects, and mixed-media installations that address issues of gentrification, spirituality, acceptance, and belonging. His practice reflects and interprets the personal—his Mexican heritage and bicultural experiences—in conjunction with the collective through work that is grounded in community needs and developed through collaboration.