Fred Ata (Boston, MA – 2015 Gardarev Fellow) is a working artist and a full- time video editor for HarvardX. He has a BFA from the University of Massachusetts (Lowell), an MFA from Tufts University in conjunction with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Liberal Arts (concentrating in Middle Eastern Studies) at the Harvard Extension School. A transplant from Lebanon, Fred’s work explores questions of identity, gender and sexuality, and how cross-cultural contact makes the subject feel insecure and pressure to assimilate. He is also working on a memory recollection project with his family about their experiences immigrating to the U.S. During his Gardarev Center residency, Fred will be creating a joint video performance project with Gardarev Fellow, Melissa Boyajian (see below), called “I Object” – which will explore the gendered and other ways in which migrating bodies unconsciously absorb and internalize unseen “baggage” created by external forces and experiences.
Diedra Barber (Oakland, CA – 2014 Gardarev Fellow) has a B.A. in International Relations from Dominican University of California, and a MBA from Mills College, where she was a 2013 Goldman Sachs Business Leadership Award recipient and an Education Pioneers Fellow. Diedra has worked for non-profit and for-profit education equity enterprises. She is interested in the ways in which empathy, authenticity and transparency disrupt communication roadblocks that hinder innovation, inspiration and impactful alliances in the areas of power, privilege and access involving race, class, gender and age. By day, Diedra is the Chief Innovation Officer for a coaching firm that focuses on power dynamics and decision clarity in non-profits. By night, Diedra is building a technical assistance consulting firm that focuses on youth to adult and youth to youth training and coaching. She is working on a piece examining how gender, race, geography, and age interact with power and privilege, and in turn effect access in the innovation and technology sectors.
Melissa Boyajian (Boston, MA – 2015 Gardarev Fellow) is an artist working in video, photography, installation and performance. She received her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and her BFA from the University of Massachusetts (Lowell). Her work examines post-colonial identity, nationalism, cultural erasure, gender queerness, the control of knowledge as power, and interpersonal power dynamics. Born in Armenia, Boyajian is a contributor to the artist collective Queering Yerevan located in Yerevan, Armenia. She has written for Queering Yerevan and Off the Wall, sponsored by the National Council on Public History. She has also been an Assistant Professor of Photography, Media Arts, and Design at Chester University, and an Adjunct Professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Melissa’s work has been featured in the New York Queer Experimental Film Festival; the Boston LGBT Film Festival; Queer Me: NYC 2011, NYC, NY; In Between: (re)Negotiating Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality (Allegheny College, PA); and Queering Translation: An Art Intervention (Yerevan, AR). During her Gardarev Center residency, Melissa will be creating a joint video performance piece with Gardarev Fellow, Fred Ata, called “I Object” (see details for Fred Ata above).
Durryle Brooks (Baltimore, MD – 2017 Gardarev Fellow) is the Founder of Love and Justice Consulting, a diversity and social justice education capacity building firm with love at its center. Durryle helps leaders engage difference at the intersections in order to bring about positive change in our cultures, communities, organizations and society at large. Drawing from interdisciplinary theories coupled with critical pedagogy and adult learning principles to maximize resonance and skill acquisition, he encourages organizations to lead in ways that produce culturally responsive and affirming environments for people from all walks of life. Durryle has worked for a variety of social justice organizations, including the LGBTQ Task Force, Leadershape, and Advocates for Youth. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Education and teaches LGBT Studies at Towson University. Durryle will be working on an article about trauma, black queer love and social transformation, using data gathered from interviews and personal experience.
Sarah Cargill (Oakland, CA – 2016 Gardarev Fellow) is a San Francisco Bay Area flutist, educator and cultural organizer aiming to implement socially relevant and culturally accessible avenues to classical music training and live performance within working-class and queer communities of color. She is a fierce advocate for queer people of color visibility and leadership in classical music and believes in the power of artistic resistance to create social change. Her past teachers include Mary Stolper, Amy Likar, Stacey Pelinka, and Maria Tamburrino. She has performed in master classes led by Carol Wincenc, Robert Stallman, Liisa Ruoho, Martha Aarons and Molly Barth. Sarah was actively involved in various orchestral ensembles in the Bay Area including the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony. She is one of San Francisco Queer Cultural Center’s 2015-2016 grantees, producing and performing in Drawing Lineage, Building Legacy (2016), an intergenerational QTPoC-centered chamber music project that showcased as a part of the 19th Annual National Queer Arts Festival. She has appeared as a soloist in numerous productions including Queer Rebels and SOMArts’s The News. Sarah graduated from The University of California, Berkeley, with a B.A. in Music and Gender and Women’s Studies. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Bay Area Girls Rock Camp in Oakland, CA. Sarah will be working on a multimedia solo staged performance that will weave deconstructed soundscapes, video, imagery and interactions with physical space to create an externalized expression of the relationship between creative labor, play and black interiority.
Goussy Célestin’s (NY, NY – 2016 Gardarev Fellow) personal mission is to stir up all her musical influences into a moving experience, incorporating jazz elements and dance influences. Called a “renaissance woman” by the New York Times, she has studied/performed music with such esteemed names as Ron Carter, Jimmy Heath, C. Scoby Stroman, Max Roach, Donald Byrd, Barry Harris, and Sheila Jordan; and dance with Pat Hall, Jean Leon Destiné, and Camille Yarbrough. Goussy is an alumna of ASE Dance Theater Collective, a neo-folklore ensemble dedicated to the traditional/ contemporary arts of the African Diaspora filtered through Haitian music and dance. She is also a member of ¡Retumba!, an all-female multi-ethnic music-dance ensemble dedicated to the traditions of the Caribbean and Latin-America, in addition to serving as lead vocalist for Charanga Soleil. While in Cuba, she had the honor of performing with members of the Buena Vista Social Club, as well as performing and mentoring with Grupo AfroCuba de Matanzas, Yoruba Andabo and Clave Y Guaguanco. Goussy has performed around the US, including at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, Del Terzo Studio at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, SOB’s, the Knitting Factory, NJPAC, Tilles Center, Newark Symphony Space, and Joe’s Pub, as well as in Cuba, England, Wales, Japan, and Haiti. Currently Goussy teaches in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Education Department, where she serves as a WeBop instructor and faculty member of the Middle School Jazz Academy. While at Gardarev she will be working on creating a sound/movement piece centered around community building, using the roots of Jazz, traditional Haitian music and sound healing.
Catia C. Confortini (Boston, MA – 2016 Gardarev Fellow), a dual citizen of Italy and the US, is an Associate from Professor of Peace and Justice Studies (P&J) at Wellesley College. She holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California and an MA in international Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame. As a scholar-activist, Catia has been engaged a wide variety of with feminist peace and justice activism, including volunteering at a domestic violence shelter, a prison, an Episcopal peace and justice ministry, and programs for the homeless. Catia has published extensively on the contributions of women’s peace activism to peace studies and on feminist peace theory more generally. She is the author of Intelligent Compassion: Feminist Critical Methodology in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Catia is currently WILPF’s International Vice President. Catia will be working on her new writing project, Bio-Pink: Gender, Power and the Transnational Diffusion of Breast Cancer Governance in Nigeria, which examines the responses of breast cancer advocates in Nigeria to the reach of biomedical and pink ribbon cultures to the global south.
Fay Chiang (NY, NY – 2011 Gardarev Fellow) is a poet and visual artist, and has been a community and cultural activist in NYC Chinatown and the Lower East Side for 40 years. She was the Executive Director for The Basement Workshop (the first Asian American nonprofit multidisciplinary cultural organization in NYC and the east coast) from 1974 to 1986, director of Henry Street Settlement’s Asian American Outreach Program, and director of Poets & Writers’ Readings/Workshops state-wide re-grant program. Chiang joined Project Reach in 2000 and is currently working with young people at risk and supporting youth and adults living with HIV/AIDS. She is the author of the poetry volumes: 7 Continents 9 Lives (Bowery Press, 2010), In The City of Contradictions and Miwa’s Song (both with Sunbury Press, 1979 and 1982 respectively). Her work is also been published in: The Bowery Poetry Cafe Women’s Poetry Anthology, Mamapalooza/The Mom Egg, Amerasia Journal, Tribes Magazine, Voci Dal Silenzio (I Canguri/Feltrinelli, Milan), Changer L’Amerique: Anthologie de la Protestaire USA (La Maison de la Poesie, Rhones-Alps) Girls: An Anthology (Global City Press), Quiet Fire, (Asian American Writers Workshop, NY), Ordinary Women (Ordinary Women Books, NY), American Born and Foreign, (Sunbury Press, NY). A recipient of a NY State CAPS Poetry grant, a Revson Fellowship at Columbia University, a Lifetime Achievement Award from New York University’s Asian/Pacific American Studies Department as well as The Five Colleges, MA, Fay has taught poetry, visual arts and playwriting. She has a B.A. from the New York School of Visual Arts and studied film history as a Revson Fellow at Columbia University. A frequent speaker at colleges and community based organizations, Fay is now making art and exhibiting again after a 3 decade break consumed by arts administration, parenting and battling breast cancer since 1994. She is currently working on a book-length poetry manuscript, “In This Life”, based on her conversations as a breast cancer survivor with a friend living with AIDS. She lives in the East Village and is mother of the inimitable Xian.
Yadira De La Riva (Brooklyn, NY – 2012 Gardarev Fellow) is an actress, poet and playwright from the border region of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master’s Degree from NYU: Gallatin School of Individualized Study in Activism: Performance Art as Cultural Resistance. De La Riva has been an intern for Theater of the Oppressed in Brazil and taught theater workshops in California, New York, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba and Ethiopia. Her one-woman show, “One Journey: Stitching Stories Across the Mexican ‘American’ Border,” addresses the effects of border enforcement in her home community. One Journey, which has been performed as part of Emerging Identities Solo Performance Collaborative, One Woman Standing Theater Festival, and Gallatin’s Master’s Thesis Showcase in New York, has toured in California, Illinois, Georgia, New Jersey, Washington and Wisconsin. De La Riva is an intellectually fierce, multi-faceted performer whose passion is to create “edutainment” that celebrates and empowers marginalized voices worldwide.
Cheryl Patrice Derricotte (Oakland, CA – 2016 Gardarev Fellow) is a visual artist whose primary medium is glass. Originally from Washington, DC, she now resides in Oakland, CA. Recently named one of two inaugural Emerging Artists at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, Cheryl’s other awards include the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass’ Inaugural Visionary Scholarship, a Center for Cultural Innovation grant and a D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities/ National Endowment for the Arts Artist Fellowship grant. Select shows include “Ghosts/Ships” at the Museum of the African Diaspora (2016); the “Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef” at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History; “Terrestrial Forces,” at the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, and “Contemporary Glass” at the SFO Museum. Cheryl has a Master of Fine Arts from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), a Masters of Regional Planning (MRP) from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, Cornell University, and a BA in Urban Affairs from Barnard College, Columbia University. Cheryl will be working on a new body of work based on The Guardian’s “The Counted: people in the US killed by the police.” This work on paper will visually map the number of people killed each month in 2016.
Laura Di Piazza (Vermont – 2012 Gardarev Fellow) is a practicing visual and conceptual artist with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. She uses material offered to her from the gallery of her subconsciousness and the mixing bowl of her everyday life. Her work addresses topics ranging from intimate violence to parental ambivalence and the art of calligraphy. She has been exhibited at the O’Tannenbaum Internationale Sommerakademie für Bildende Kunst (Austria); and in Vermont at: Goddard College’s Opening into Presence: Reflections on Geography, Story, Memory, Art and Identity; Goddard College’s Art Crawl; Tip Top Media’s Among Circles; and the Norwich Historical Society.
Linda Dusman (Baltimore, MD – 2014 Gardarev Fellow), is a composer whose compositions and sonic art explore the richness of contemporary life, from the personal to the political. CDs of her work, include the newly released, “I Need No Words” (CD Universe) and “Sounding Out – Electronic and Experimental Music by Lesbian Composers” (Everglade). She has received awards from the International Alliance for Women in Music, Meet the Composer, the Swiss Women’s Music Forum, the American Composers Forum, the International Electroacoustic Music Festival of Sao Paulo, Brazil, among others. Linda has published in Link, Perspectives of New Music, Interface, and several anthologies. She was a founding editor of the journal Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture, and is as an Associate Editor for Perspectives of New Music. A longtime supporter of women in the arts, Linda recently founded I Resound Press, a digital press/archive for music by women composers. She is currently Professor of Music at University of Maryland (Baltimore). In addition to working on a new composition that explores the emergence of the “self” from a feminist perspective, Linda will be writing an article on the late feminist, and experimental composer, Eleanor Hovda.
M. Blair Franklin (Baltimore, MD – 2016 Gardarev Fellow), a Baltimore born and bred creative, intuitive, radical healer, and social justice activist, works at the intersections of public health, LGBTQ equity, and racial justice. Currently, he is a consultant and trainer of workshops for peoples of color conducted by Baltimore Racial Justice Action, and is HIV Prevention Program Manager at the STAR TRACK Adolescent Health Program at the University of Maryland where he oversees HIV prevention, community mobilization, and advocacy and coalition building for youth and young adults ages 12-26. He previously worked as Co-Chair of GLSEN Baltimore, a chapter organization working to establish safer schools for all in the Baltimore Metro area, and now advises their developing governing board. He also sits on the Board of Directors of Free State Justice, a legal advocacy organization that seeks to improve the lives of low-income LGBTQ Marylanders. In 2014 he received a BMe Community Award and was recognized as one of the 100 Black LGBTQ/SGL Emerging Leaders to Watch by the National Black Justice Coalition. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Delaware. Blair will be working on novel called “The Wandering”, a speculative fiction piece focusing on narratives of resistance and uprising, suffering and community healing, loss, and the wellspring of power within us all.
May C. Fu (San Diego, CA – 2014 Gardarev Fellow) is an Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and Coordinator of the All Nations Institute for Community Achievement at the University of San Diego. She teaches classes on the comparative histories of people of color, social movements and women of color feminisms. Her research examines Asian American community organizing in the 1960s and 1970s and explores the panethnic, interracial, and international politics that shaped Asian American radicalism. May serves as lead organizer of the San Diego Ethnic Studies Consortium, a countywide collaboration of educators committed to social justice and community engagement, and is a Board member of Alliance San Diego and Students for Economic Justice. She has participated in grassroots movements for educational justice, transformative justice and community accountability, and women and transfolks of color against violence. She will be writing a book chapter on the Union of Vietnamese in the United States, a historic Vietnamese youth collective that utilized cultural performance, poetry and music to politicize and mobilize Asian American communities, their allies and the peace movement during the Vietnam War.
Brian Fuss (Wellesley, MA – 2015 Gardarev Fellow) is a passionate advocate for the equality and inclusion of people from vulnerable populations. Brian has worked as a manager in the mental health and substance abuse fields for Rehabilitation Support Services in Albany, and the Harm Reduction Coalition Training Institute in New York. He has also served on the boards of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the ALS Foundation. Brian has an MPA from Walden University, a BA from SUNY Empire State in cultural studies (with minors in religion and public policy), and is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy Administration at Walden University. During his Gardarev residency, Brian will be working on an article about how progressive religious institutions can play a role in creating a more tolerant and equal society for LGBTIQ communities.
Bryan E. Glover (Harlem, NY – 2014 Gardarev Fellow) is an independent arts producer, filmmaker, writer and life coach living in Harlem, NY. Over the past 20 years he has worked at numerous non-profit organizations as a manager and administrator, primarily serving and advocating on behalf of LGBT communities, with particular focus on the mental, spiritual and emotional needs of Black gay men. Bryan has delivered presentations and spoken publicly on issues such as HIV/AIDS, children’s grief, African American LGBT issues, sexism and spirituality. As a producer in the fields of music, theater, film and performance art, he is interested in enhancing and promoting the careers of LGBT artists of color. As a writer, thinker and life coach, Bryan is interested in the workings of community, keeping alive the art of conversation, and how the two can support people in manifesting their vision. He has served on the boards of the Gay and Lesbian Education Fund (Washington, DC), Washington Peace Center, Adodi National and Freedom Train Productions (NYC), and co-founded the Black Feminist Discussion Group (Washington, DC) and Adodi DC. A proud native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Glover has travelled extensively around the world. He has a B.S. from the University of Chicago. Bryan will be working on an article about his experiences with “Adodi,” the 27 year old US black gay man’s community and spiritual retreat. The article, “Intentional Intimacy: The Heart-Centered Space of Adodi, will explore Adodi’s meaning, significance and value, both to those who come, and those who may be interested in coming.
Rahilia Hasanova (Baltimore, MD – 2015 Gardarev Guest Artist) is a brilliant and prolific composer with a unique and powerful voice. By combining the essence of her native Azerbaijani culture and traditional music with contemporary western classical music traditions, Hasanova creates unparalleled music forms and materials. Hasanova has a Ph.D. from the Baku Conservatory of Music, where she taught for many years. Since moving to the US in 2009, she has received commissions for the chamber opera, Pendulum Clocks, Pazyryk and Flying Over Canyons (2014); Plasma Clusters, Dance of Water, Yurt, and Eos-Helios (2013); Dance of Fire, Rainforest, Zilli, Khazri-Gilavar, and Zoom in – Zoom Out (2012); and Fugues and Postludes (2011). She was also a featured composer at the “Livewire-4” (2013) and “Livewire-5” (2014) Contemporary Music Festivals at the University of Maryland, and her symphony, Lullaby of the Stars will be performed by the Baltimore Philharmonia Orchestra this Spring. Many of her works are inspired by events taking plave in her homeland. A review of her Fall 2015 concert at Brandeis University (co-produced by the Gardarev Center and the Rebecca Clark Society) hailed her “mastery of the piano”, and said: “One of the most touching pieces … [Monad] was created in direct response to the 1990s invasion of Azerbaijan by the Soviets. During the invasion, Hasanova witnessed one of her neighbors being killed. The piece conveyed the chaos and sorrow of that deeply traumatic event.” We are honored to have Rahilia spend some time with us in the Fall of 2015.
Juliana Delgado Lopera (San Francisco, CA – 2017 Gardarev Fellow) is an award-winning Colombian writer, community organizer and historian based in San Francisco. The recipient of the 2014 Jackson Literary award, and a finalist of the Clark-Gross Novel award, she’s the author of ¡Cuéntamelo! an illustrated bilingual collection of oral histories by LGBT Latinx immigrants and Quiéreme (Nomadic Press 2017). She’s received fellowships from Brush Creek Foundation of the Arts, Lambda Literary Foundation, The SF Grotto, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and an individual artist grant from the SF Arts Commission. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Four Way Review, Foglifter, The Bold Italic, Revista Canto, and SF Weekly. She’s performed in countless venues around the West Coast and lectured at San Francisco State University, Wayward Writers and 826 Valencia. She’s the executive director of RADAR Productions, a queer literary non-profit in San Francisco. Juliana will be working on a new novella, set in contemporary Bogotá, Colombia. A story of fatherhood, loneliness, womanhood and queerness, the novella will trace the life of 12-year-old Lucía and her queer dad, Ignacio.
Min Min Hein (Myanmar/Burma – 2016 Gardarev Center Fellow) is a filmmaker whose work explores life in Myanmar from a variety of perspectives. Along with his award winning films, “At the Horizon” and “Hope”, his documentary film, “Monks” (which examines how young, novice, Buddhist monks coexist in a Burmese monastery), won the “Solidarity Shorts International Film Award” in Warsaw Poland. Min Min has been a directing fellow at the Asian Film Academy and is currently a Fulbright scholar in the MFA in film program at CUNY in New York City. He will be working on a feature length documentary about exiled Burmese artist and activist, Chaw Ei Thein.
Letta Neely (Boston, MA 0 2011 Gardarev Center Fellow) is a Black dyke writer, artist, feminist, and mother, originally from Indianapolis, where she survived the busing experiments of the 1980s. She is honored to have worked with and learned from young people in elementary, middle and high schools, prisons and juvenile detention centers across the country. Neely’s writing explores the various textures, technologies and intersections of race, sex, sexuality, class, gender, economics and liberation in her daily living. She the recipient of the New York Fellowship for the Arts (1995), and was a finalist for the Massachusetts Cultural Council Poetry Fellowship (2002) and the Astraea Lesbian Writer’s Award (1999). Her books, Juba and Here were finalists for the Lambda Literary Award. Neely’s work has been included in various anthologies, literary journals and magazines such as: Through the Cracks; Sinister Wisdom; Common Lives, Lesbian Lives; Rag Shock; African Voices, Rap Pages, Catch the Fire , Does Your Mama Know, The World in Us, Best Lesbian Erotica 1999, and, Roll Call—a Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature & Art. Neely’s play, Hamartia Blues, was produced in 2001 by the Theatre Offensive in Boston and was nominated for two IRNE awards. A second play, Last Rites, received a staged reading at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and a world premiere production with The Theater Offensive at the Boston Center for the Arts. She currently resides in Boston with her wife, niece, and daughter.
Marisol Negron (Boston, MA – 2012 Gardarev Center Fellow) has a Ph.D. from Stanford University, and is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where she teaches courses on Latino, Race, Gender, Sexuality andDiasporic and Cross Border Studies. A 2012-2013 recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship for junior faculty, she is currently working on a book tentatively titled, “Made in NuYoRico: Salsa as Commodity and Cultural Marker Since the Mid-1960s.” Exploring the impact of society and culture on market forces, the book will demonstrate that salsa entered into a series of social relations marked largely by issues of class and ethno-racial, gendered, sexual, and national identities.
Oscar Palacio (Boston, MA – 2011 Gardarev Fellow) is a Columbian-born, Rochester, New York-based photographer. He received his MFA in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Miami. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover. Palacio’s work has been exhibited at Smith College Museum of Art, Julie Saul Gallery, Bonni Benrubi Gallery, Howard Yezerski Gallery, Elias Fine Art and the Plymouth Historical Museum, among others. His work has been reviewed in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe, Tema Celeste, Art Nexus and Art on Paper. In 2004 and 2005, he was Edward E. Elson artist-in-residence at the Addison Gallery of American Art, where he had his first solo museum exhibition, Unfamiliar Territory, in 2005. He was also a resident artist at Light Work at Syracuse University in 2008. Recent exhibitions include the 2010 DeCordova Museum Biennial and Still Here: Contemporary Artists and the Civil War at the George Eastman House. He is currently a Professor at Lesley College in Boston.
kt shorb (Austn, Texas – 2017 Gardarev Fellow) is a multi-disciplinary artist who grew up in Massachusetts, rural Japan, and Tokyo. They hold a BM from Oberlin College Conservatory, an MA from the University of Texas at Austin, and are currently pursuing a PhD in Performance as Public Practice at the University of Texas, Austin. kt is the Founding Producing Artistic Director of the Generic Ensemble Company (geneco.org), a troupe that foregrounds queer women of color in collaborative, ensemble-based work. Devised theatre directing credits include: Islamophobia, Scheherazade (a 2017 Open Meadows Foundation Grant winner) and The Experiment (2012; co-written with Ana-Maurine Lara), among others. Directorial work includes: Radio Kaduna and a tortoise walks majestically on window ledges (by Guggenheim Fellow, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, presented at The Pulitzer Foundation and the Menil Collection in 2013). Upcoming directing credits include: Così fan tutte (Butler Opera Center), 893 | Ya-Ku-Za, and the all-Latinx, devised play, CARMEN. shorb’s solo performance, Una Corda, has been performed at the Philadelphia COLLAGE Collaborative Arts Festival, the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, Oberlin College, Southwestern University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Alma de Mujer Center for Social Change, Co-Lab Austin, and the University of Chicago. shorb has also published pieces in the anthologies, Restoried Selves: Autobiographies of Queer Asian Pacific American Activists, and The Blind Chatelaine’s Keys. They have served as faculty in the Theater program at Southwestern University, and at the University of Texas at Austin. kt will be working on a script for a solo performance piece called, “Inappropriate”.
Javaka Steptoe (Brooklyn, NY – 2011 Gardarev Fellow) is an eclectic artist, designer, and illustrator, building a national reputation as an outstanding contributor to the genre of children’s literature. His debut work, In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, earned him the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. His book, Hot Day on Abbott Avenue, written by Karen English, received the 2005 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Steptoe’s most recent illustration projects include Rain Play by Cynthia Cotten (2008) and Amiri and Odette: A Love Story written by Walter Dean Myers (2009). Javaka’s latest book, Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow – A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix (written by author Gary Golio) was recently featured on NPR’s weekend edition and on the New York Times bestseller list. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Steptoe is very committed to children’s education, and has made appearances at the American Library Association, the International Reading Association, and Reading is Fundamental, Inc.
M. Yvonne Taylor (Houston, Texas – 2011 Gardarev Fellow) writes about single motherhood, diversity, education, and culture. She is working on a book about single mothers, and is also in the process of conducting a multigenerational research project about gays and lesbians in her own family. Taylor has worked in higher education as an Assistant Director of Minority Community Affairs at Rice University and Assistant Director of Student Activities at Reed College. She has a M.L.A. from Southern Methodist University and a B.A. from the University of Houston.
“Many of my friends are in prison, far away and inaccessible. There are over 2000 political prisoners in Burma. Some have been sentenced to 56 years of imprisonment, some 65, and some 102. All are committed to their fight for freedom and justice in Burma, and for our people. I am lucky because I am not in prison like them. But I always think of them: how they spend their time in the prison, and how they have sacrificed. So I am doing this performance for them.”
Chaw Ei Thein (Myanmar/Burma – 2011 Gardarev Fellow) is one of the most important contemporary artists to emerge from Burma. She graduated from Rangoon University with a degree in Law. With her father, Maung Thein, as her art teacher and mentor, she received numerous international art awards at a very early age. Highly regarded as a painter, conceptual and performance artist, Thein’s feminist inspired work explores the conflict embedded in the socio-political environment of her country of origin. She has lectured, performed or exhibited extensively in and outside of Burma, as well as at the Asian House in London (with Htein Lin) in 2007, the Singapore Biennial in 2008, and the Open Studios Exhibitions – International Studio and Curators Program in New York in 2009. She has also given artist presentations at the School of the Art Institute Chicago (SAIC), Massachusetts College of Art, Brown University, Northern Illinois University and the Open Society Institute in New York. Thein is the recipient of the Elizabeth J McCormack and Jerome I Aaron fellowship in connection with the Asian Cultural Council in New York. She currently lives in New York.
Manish Vaidya (Oakland, CA – 2014 Gardarev Fellow) is a storytelling, comedy and spoken word artist with Mangos With Chili and is the Artistic Director of Peacock Rebellion, a queer people of color–centered crew of artist-activist-healers who make art to help build a culture of collective liberation. He’s performed at the National Queer Arts Festival, the United States of Asian America Festival, and the United States Social Forum. Manish has also worked as a trainer, coach and consultant on grassroots fundraising, strategic planning, organizational and leadership development for small nonprofit organizations, activist collectives and grassroots community-based groups dedicated to social, economic and environmental justice. He has Masters in Activism and Social Change from New College of California, and a BA in Social and Economic Justice from Pennsylvania State University. Manish’s writing appears in Ghadar, the Hyphen blog, Fierce Hunger, Body Image/nation, and elsewhere. He is a former co-coordinator of the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action. He will be working on a Shapeshifter, a hybrid chapbook-workbook that charts his story as a survivor of family, relationship, institutional and structural violence, and the fragments of a map that ancestors drop into dreams to guide one’s personal transformation.
Kevin Matthew Wong (Toronto, Canada – 2017 Gardarev Fellow) is a Toronto-based theatre creator, actor, musician, producer and environmentalist. He is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Broadleaf Theatre (broadleaftheatre.com), a company that seeks to authentically merge environmentalism and theatre praxis. Kevin is a graduate of the University of Toronto Drama Centre and Generator’s inaugural Artist-Producer Training Program. He has worked as an Artistic Director Intern at Cahoots Theatre and the Outreach Coordinator for the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival. Recent credits, as producer: Silk Bath (Next Stage), Mr. Shi and His Lover (Summerworks), Brave New World (Litmus Theatre), as actor DREAMS (Canadian Rep Theatre), Half Full (Mixed Company Theatre). Kevin’s original theater/mixed media piece – The Chemical Valley Project – exploring Canada’s petrochemical industry, debuted at the 2017 SummerWorks Festival and was a NOW Magazine Critics’ Pick. Kevin will be working on a new multi-media theatre project called Siu Bah, which means mini-bus in Cantonese. It explores the relationship between modern Hong Kong and the Western world, as well as the Hong Kong diaspora in North America.
Devin Zuber (Berkeley, CA – 2014 Gardarev Fellow) has PhD from the City University of New York, and is an Assistant Professor of American Studies in the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California (GTU). He writes and teaches about the intersection between art and environmental justice, and oversees GTU student internships relating to the pursuit of environmental justice in faith communities. Devin has held fellowships at the Glencairn Museum of World Religions and the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and serves on the board of the Center for Arts, Religion and Education at the GTU. He has written for the American Quarterly, Religion and the Arts, and Variations, and will be working on a book chapter, called, “Jewett, Gender, and the Politics of Place,” about 19th century lesbian writer and environmental activist, Sarah Orn Jewett, who tried to rethink gender roles and sexual identity as they were tied to place and nature in her writing.