Amber Bemak, Christian Cruz, Inyang Essien, Karla Garcia, and Xxavier Edward Carter are the recipients of the Nasher Sculpture Center’s 2021 Artist grants. Cruz lives in Irving while the other four artists live in Dallas.
The annual program offers grants to North Texas-based artists that can be used for acquiring studio space, purchasing equipment and materials, and funding travel-related research for their projects. This year’s winners were selected by a jury of artists that included recent Nasher Public artist Jer’Lisa Devezin and other local artists Leslie Martinez, Shelby David Meier, and Matthew Ronay. All have shown at the Nasher in the past.
Each recipient received $2,000 to help pay for their projects.
“This year’s awardees show a strong and imaginative commitment to raise the voices of their communities and to highlight the struggles of others through their artistic work, a labor that the jury found deeply important in this moment,” read a statement from Dr. Leigh Arnold, the Nasher’s associate curator.
Bemak, Cruz, and Garcia’s projects tackle Mexican American identity, the U.S./Mexico border and immigration, and Chicanisma (Mexican American feminism). Bemak will use the money to produce a documentary about Guillermo Gómez-Peña, the Mexican/Chicano political activist and performance artist. She is calling her work 100 Ways to Crash the Border. Breastmilk Bodegas, a performance installation about the monetary, social, and cultural value of women’s labor practices, will be one of the featured installations at Cruz’s venue. She plans to rent the space with the grant. Garcia says she’ll use her funding to acquire permits to display her clay sculptures in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
Carter and Essien’s projects use multi-media to explore he intersections of art, culture, society, and technology. Essien plans to build an immersive photo and video exhibition that articulates the relationship between the geometric patterns found in nature and the textile formations present in African and Indigenous American cultures. Described as “heritage algorithms,” Essien will record the ways they show up in South Dallas through hair designs and drum rhythms.
In a similar vein, Carter plans to launch a quarterly arts magazine that will feature photos, drawings, and articles from writers across the globe. The magazine creates spaces for bodies and voices historically overlooked for coverage in print publications, Carter says.
“This publication looks to build community by tapping writers globally to track the pulse of art, sex, and society in a shrinking global climate where both physical and virtual spaces are becoming ever more commodified by capitalism and white supremacy,” read a statement from the artist.