Despite national surveys repeatedly placing Georgia’s arts funding near the bottom of the list for decades, artists in metro Atlanta have recently enjoyed a diverse range of funding opportunities, including one of the country’s largest cash awards, The Hudgens Prize, and annual consideration for nationally coveted Artadia awards. Fellowships tied to the city’s multitude of nonprofit organizations—such as the Forward Arts Foundation’s Edge Award, MOCA GA’s Working Artist Prize, and Mint’s Leap Year fellowship—have provided Atlanta artists at all stages of their careers with a bounty of opportunities, greatly improving the incentives for young artists to continue living and working in Atlanta instead of fleeing to larger coastal art centers. Amid this rich funding landscape, however, no other initiative cuts across the city’s various demographics, career stages, and mediums with the same agility Idea Capital has shown.
Founded in 2008, the organization has awarded $122,035 to over 100 Atlanta artists, supporting projects as wide-ranging as experimental puppetry, film, artist books, and explorations of virtual reality. This week, the independent funding organization has announced its most recent suite of grants, investing $18,000 among nine awardees including Discrit, the lecture and critique series organized by Chris Fernald and Joey Molina, a new podcast from Floyd Hall, and a forthcoming documentary by Ruth Dusseault. Here is the full list of awardees and funded projects:
Shawn Campbell — A series of sculptures using ubiquitous materials like plywood and concrete will examine power and politics in Campbell’s series Domestic Theater. Referencing the American flag and Frederic Remington’s “Bronco Buster” bronze sculpture in the Oval Office, Campbell forces us to examine and interrogate icons of American values we might normally just accept as natural.
Teri Darnell — A military veteran herself, for the past two years Teri Darnell has been photographing the traditional gathering places of veterans—Veterans of Foreign Wars posts across American— in her series Veterans in Crisis. The end result will be a photo book that documents the centrality of these institutions for veterans in providing companionship, healing, and solidarity in the face of an often difficult and hostile landscape for military veterans.
Discrit: A collaboration by Chris Fernald and Joey Molina — Building upon an established program of public lectures that introduce complex ideas in contemporary art and culture, the organizers of Discrit will host a year-long series of talks featuring local scholars and professionals, supplemented by film and video work screenings from national artists.
Ruth Dusseault — Chronicling the work of a local legend, artist Dusseault will document the 40-year career of 82-year-old H Johnson, host of the long-running WABE program Jazz Classics. The film will examine the intimacy of radio and both personal and collective memory in the life of a city.
Amie Esslinger — Esslinger will travel to science museums and libraries in the Netherlands including Rijksmuseum Boerhaave and Artis Micropia to continue her study of the microorganisms that form the foundation of her paintings and drawings that, in the artist’s words, “mirror the complexity found in the organisms and systems of microbiology.” Esslinger is the winner of the Antinori Visual Artist Grant from Idea Capital.
Floyd Hall — An audio diary of how Black life and prosperity has been measured in Atlanta, Hall’s podcast Cascade Road will consider the pivotal notion of this Southside neighborhood as a Valhalla of Black wealth and achievement. The gap between reality and Hall’s own childhood memory of what Cascade represented for Black Atlantans will be treated in this podcast blending oral history and storytelling.
Antonio Johnson — Focusing on an important cultural space in Back America, Antonio Johnson’s black-and-white photo series “You Next” looks at the institution of Black barbershops as gathering spaces, sites of identity formation and wellness. “You Next” will bring the work to the public sphere with wheat pasted images from the series posted in public spaces.
Okwae Miller — In the multimedia dance and performance project a shy, [RED] moon Miller and collaborators will examine the reality of gay Black men living with HIV/AIDS, rewriting the idea of disease-as-death-sentence. Scheduled for performances at Atlanta’s The Bakery, a shy, [RED] moon will feature projection mapping technology, sound collage, and four dancers demonstrating the power of resilience and healing. Miller is the winner of the Margaret Kargbo Artist as Activist Grant.
Carley Rickles — Landscapes of Collective Trauma uses research into the ways that Germany has created memorials to the Holocaust and shared trauma to, in turn, consider how Southerners might also stage commemorations of slavery and racism in acknowledgement of our collective trauma. Rickles will create a book to document and also inspire “cultural accountability” for these twinned legacies of injustice. Rickles is the winner of the Idea Capital Travel Grant.
Awardees were chosen by Idea Capital’s steering committee comprised of Cinque Hicks, Felicia Feaster, Grace Gardener, Jess Bernhart, Jamie Steele, Jody Fausett, Oronike Odeleye, Louise Shaw, Mary Stanley, Sam Romo, and guest adjudicator Megan Schaeffer, director of the Art Farm at Serenbe. More information about the organization and the dozens of projects it had supported over the years is available on its website.
Disclosure: Two Idea Capital steering committee members currently serve as board members at Burnaway, Felicia Feaster and Jamie Steele.