By Kathy DeMott
One of the goals of the Prairie Ronde Artist Residency program is continuing to broaden Vicksburg’s vibrant art scene. “It’s very exciting to be engaged with different artists from all over the world, said the program Director John Kern. “As we wrap up our fourth year of the program, we are attracting high quality artists.”
The residency provides housing, a stipend and allows artists to spend four to seven weeks to create art that is inspired by Vicksburg and The Mill. Part of the agreement includes community engagement and leaving behind a tangible piece as part of the permanent collection of Prairie Ronde.
The October artists include Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder of New York, who have been collaborating since 2000 as “expanded cinema artists.” With backgrounds in experimental film-making, they are known for their inventive re-purposing of obsolete cinematic materials such as 16 and 35 mm film, reels and projectors versus the actual camera. “With the introduction of digital video at the turn of the century, there is a gradual disappearance of the materiality of media,” Recoder said. Self described as “media archaeologists,” they work to discover the affinity of the past and present in their installation pieces. Discovering the industrial side of the Mill, its paper production and community will be their inspiration.
Gibson and Recoder have works in several major art museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. They have multiple awards and commissions including the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy. They lecture in media departments at several universities and art residencies.
Another, Asante Amin, describes himself as an artist-musician, Hip Hop producer and educator, but most importantly, a healer who helps others create and tell their own stories. “I am here for the stories.” Amin has performed and conducted classes extensively at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater. He is the musical director and co-founder of Soul Science Lab. Its latest endeavor is a comprehensive show called Make a Joyful Noize, a documentary, visual album and arts curriculum, all working together to highlight the power and dimensions of black joy.
“I am looking forward to being in nature, hearing the rhythm of water and sounds specific to Vicksburg,” said Amin, a New Orleans native. “Coming to a more agricultural environment is not merely a luxury but a necessity to find some reprieve from the pressures and pace of the city, to make space to create.” He’s looking forward to connecting with the community, sharing life experiences and being inspired to create in the process.
Arriving November 1 from Pontiac, Jeff Schofield a sculptor and installation artist, uses found objects, natural materials, and discarded plastics to create large scale pieces.
“My multi-disciplinary artworks probe the intersections between sculpture, architecture, installation and land art to comment on humanity’s complicated relationship with nature.” Schofield creates environmental artworks which speak to sustainability and the visual aspects of climate change and the impact on the earth.
With a background in architecture, art training in Paris, and as art director for Gallery 76 in Dubai, diverse experience is part of his ongoing artistic development. His work has been exhibited in various galleries, public institutions, and hotels in New York, Paris, Rome and Dubai. “Attending artist residencies across the country offers different microclimates to explore local ecological narratives.” Schofield is also a forest therapy guide, a practice of immersing yourself in nature walks for health and wellness benefits, also known as “forest bathing.” He often incorporates this as part of his community engagement.
A Brooklyn-based orchestral-pop duo, Gracie and Rachel, fuses suspenseful baroque sounds with contemporary melodies. The lyrics are often autobiographical and speak of personal and relational tensions, societal issues, and self-empowerment. Gracie Coates, a singer-songwriter keyboardist, and Rachel Ruggles, a classically-trained violinist, met in high school in Berkeley, California. Their self-titled debut record was chosen as one of Bob Boilen’s Top 10 Albums on NPR Music, while the duo’s sophomore album, Hello Weakness You Make Me Strong, released last year on Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records, elicited an invite back for their second NPR Tiny Desk Concert as well as features with All Songs Considered and Strings Magazine.
The two are now embarking on their next chapter of sonic-exploration and look forward to being out of the urban setting to experience a rural community where they can be surprised by a fresh environment in which to create new textures and ideas.
Rachel said, “We want to push beyond our training and what we’ve done in the past and let our creative flag fly during our stay.”
To learn more about the Prairie Ronde Artist Residency, visit the website or social media for updates.