How can an African American female who is visually impaired get the funding she needs to use her skills in a positive way in her community. This female being someone not employed by a college, without connections to some of the big players like Blade of Grass, Jerome Foundation, or Creative Time, and someone who did not attend Yale Art School. Someone who has never received funding from these organizations but has been able to create with her community. I did however, take the money I would have used to go to one of these colleges (loan to my nonprofit) to start my nonprofit.
For years I applied to big-name organizations, like Creative Time & A Blade of Grass, for funding. What I noticed was how incredibly hard it was. I did not go to Yale Art school nor did I work for a College. What does this have to do with it? A paycheck and access. When you have a paycheck coming in it gives you some security to create and can also give you access to some of the big names like Creative Time or a Blade of Grass. Look up some of your favorite artists who are using social practice in their work and getting funded. This is nothing against them or their instututions. This is about finding the money to help my community and being able to create art. So, I decided to start a social practice nonprofit and become my own advocate for my community using art.
I could have paid the $10,000 a year to Queens College for their social practice program or I could get a loan and use the money to build my community. There are many other programs at universities around social practice and I'm sure they're good but I wanted to help my community using art. If I paid it to the university I would have nothing for my community when I graduated. Also, I could end up trying to find some job teaching and be unable to give at the level of time I wanted. I said to myself, "Take the money and do the work while you learn on the way." And, that's what I started to do in 2015 when I incorporated as a social practice nonprofit. I took a loan( no the smartest. thing) and I started creating. Here are some accomplishments.
1. Women Who Build. Building a tiny house with 200 women while learning how to use tools and raise the funding for the project. It was 1 year to build the shell and inside. The following year it was turned into a design studio to support designing and building furniture with interns to go in community gardens
2. Elmhurst Sculpture Garden - revitalized 3,000 of the 10,000 square feet of space in Elmhurst with two different communities. Installed benches to change the space into one that functioned for the community. Installed sculptures I created and asked others to create sculptures as well for the space.
3. Designed and painted 11outdoor murals with the community and advocated with them for over 4000,000 in funding to revitalize other outdoor spaces.
4. Created 5 public art pieces in parks around NYC, including Flushing Meadow Corona Park, with the community that inspired dialogue and action around homelessness, blindness, and public space.
5. I have brought in over 600,000 to my nonprofit and every day I walk around in my community and see what we've created.
Never Give Up. Become your own Artist in Residence.