With its founding the Foundation created a pay it forward model in which it initially selected 5 artists to whom it awarded $1500 each in unrestricted microgrants and then asked those original artists in turn to pay it forward by granting an additional $1500 to other members of the Detroit arts community. In addition, the Foundation also offered residencies to a wide variety of artists in Detroit in the Foundation's studio space in southwest Detroit.
PAINTER, MURALIST & PHOTOGRAPHER
Bakpak Durden is an interdisciplinary fine artist. With a primary focus on the figure, Bakpak uses a range of mediums including oil and acrylic paint, graphite and fine art photography to create their hyperrealistic, conceptual style. Their detailed, emotionally engaging subjects shine a spotlight on human feelings and moods.
FINE ARTIST & MURALIST
Sydney G. James paints are the beginnings of what will become rich, emotional portraits. Deep hues, and complex layering created with the use of acrylics, oils, pastels, graphite, and other mediums, have become signatures of her work portraying familiar, friendly and familiar faces.
OIL PORTRAIT ARTIST
Gisela McDaniel is a diasporic indigenous Chamorro artist. Her work is based in healing from her own sexual trauma and reflecting the healing of women and non-binary people who have survived sexual trauma. Interweaving assemblages of audio, oil painting, and motion-sensored technology, she creates pieces that “come to life” and literally “talk back” to the viewer upon being triggered by observers. She intentionally incorporates survivor’s voices in order to subvert traditional power relations and to enable both individual and collective healing.
Cyrah Dardas is a transmedia artist based in Detroit, MI. She is the co-founder of Paper Street Press, the lead teaching artist at People in Education and has contributed to many local art movements in Detroit since 2013. Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Room Project in Detroit and the 23rd International Open at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago. Her recent curatorial projects include working with artists Ava Ansari and Wayne Curtis through Red Bull House of Art, and curating The Future is Fluid through SaveArtSapce in Detroit.
Founder of Black Art Library: born from Walton’s desire to create a tactile means for communities to engage with Black artists and Black art history. A living archive of global Black creativity, the collection includes artist monographs, exhibition catalogs, children’s books, artist memoirs, artist biographies, art history texts, and other art related ephemera. As a mobile collection and interactive installation, Black Art Library provides a platform for community accessibility and engagement with the rich legacy of Black art, aesthetics, and history.
FASHION & PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER
Since 2010, Bre’Ann White has curated stunning photographs and branding materials for organizations worldwide. The Detroit-bred fashion and portrait photographer is known for creating and cultivating striking images that draw you into the subject’s world. Throughout White’s work portfolio, there is a consistent layer of authenticity and imagination.
saylem celeste (they/them) is a Black, Queer, Trans non-binary Reparations Alchemist (Artist/Activist Hybrid) working in their hometown of waawiyatanong (Detroit, Michigan). They create images and objects that communicate the living relationship between the experiences of Queer, Black/Indigenous, Femme identifying folks and ideas of home and heritage. As a previous student of academic institutions such as risd, sfai, the university of michigan, and wayne state university, saylem has now turned away from traditional academic prospects to pursue direct community involvement, alternative learning experiences, and grassroots guerilla theory. saylem is currently practicing the Black folk tradition of quilting in tandem with a sustainable fibers practice to provide mutual aid- in order to cultivate a spirit of healing, restoration, and solace to those in need of immediate care and inspiration.
HARPIST, FILM & SOUND ARTIST
Working across myriad disciplines, Detroit based multidisciplinary artist, performer, filmmaker and harpist. Ahya Simone's many pronged practice is bound by an exploration of black identity, aesthetic, and community building. Simone’s engagement with music stems from a childhood spent in the black church, where she learned to sing. In high school, she began to play the harp and became principal harpist for the Wayne State University wind symphony upon her graduation.
Tiff Massey's work merges the regal aesthetics of traditional African fashion and hair-styling techniques with the grandiose bravado of 1980’s hip-hop jewelry. Influenced by Detroit’s history of ostentatious fashion, their work examines how symbols of wealth in the regalia of African diaspora affect the wearer’s behavior and attitude, eliciting an experience whereupon the viewer may encounter an object and engage in thoughts and/or acts of vanity.
Ijania M Cortez (B 1990) is an American fine artist whose practice centers on figurative portraiture. Cortez's work interrogates themes of masculinity, hubris, consciousness, and the human condition through paintings of black men. She uses color to incite modern awareness as well as a sense of divinity in her subject matter. A self taught artist, she was introduced to the craft of draughting at 9 years old by early teachers, and began to explore it. She decided to take up her practice professionally in 2016, and by 2017 threw her first solo show, A Summer Nativity, to great reception. She has been in several group exhibitions including 2019s Deeply Detroit.
Ijania is represented by Collected Detroit Gallery.
MULTIMEDIA PERFORMING ARTIST
Kesiena Wanogho, aka KESSWA, is a multimedia performing artist from Detroit, Michigan. Through her work as a vocalist, producer, and DJ, she creates performances that integrate sound and light through music and mantra. Her most recent performance, KESSWA UNLIMITED, blends afro-surrealist visuals and the sonic elements of her debut EP, Soften. This site specific installation activated the museum component of techno headquarters, Submerge Distribution. She has performed in support of avant-garde black artist's such as Sudan Archives, Sun Ra’s Arkestra, River Spirit, Rashad Newsome, and Sterling Toles at art spaces like the Cleveland Art Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, The University of Michigan Museum of Art, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Her musical work has scored film projects such as Detroit Narrative Agency project “Femme Queen Chronicles”, and the Locarno Film Festival selected “Gramercy”. Her collaborations include; Boldy James and Sterling Toles “The Manger” and an upcoming project with renowned electronic producer, and drummer Shigeto.
Tony Rave (b. Detroit MI 1986) is a multidisciplinary artist from the east side of Detroit. Rave’s work has been exhibited in Detroit, Chicago, and New York. Notable solo exhibitions include The Purge; King of Broken Hearts and Politics as Usual. Rave’s work has been supported by Detroit Institute of Arts, the Heidelberg Project, John S. & James Knight
Foundation, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and the Skillman Foundation and participated in The Red Bull House of Art residency program in 2015. Raves has created opportunities for Black artists in Detroit. He cultivates spaces for local artists to express unapologetically revolutionary ideas through their work. Rave co-founded The 48 Hour as a platform to create a network between Black artists in Detroit to Black artists globally, grow in their practice, and exhibit.
Pigs have been a muse for his work. The animal has allowed him to open up artistically
and communicate with depth, humor, and insight into the place pigs hold in our collective
imagination and society. Rave works with controversial themes of white propaganda to spark critical conversation about current issues in society.
ARTIST & ENTREPRENEUR
Isaac Coenca is a promising young Afro-Brazilian Transgender Immigrant Artist and Entrepreneur inspired by the gaps and what they still see missing in our current art and media landscape. Their work aims to use social research, graphic design, identity in marginalization, the power of representation, and the use of technology to merge the bridge between cyberspace and print media. Living in Detroit, MI, but most alive on the web, they are able to collaborate and connect with other traditionally marginalized artists across the world to forge paths towards more representation and autonomy for artists and creatives online. They are striving to create safer spaces for people of all backgrounds and identities to take up space and reclaim their voices.
Olivia Guterson is an interdisciplinary artist, based in Detroit, Michigan. She is deeply influenced by the textures, landscapes, and patterns of her upbringing in the Southwest, as well as her Jewish and Black heritage. She works predominantly in black and white for its stability, intensity, and honesty while incorporating ancestral patterns and narratives. In 2020, she curated her first exhibition, The Space Between at the Ann Arbor Art Center. She presently is a resident at Sibyls Shrine and AS220’s Practice//Practice. Her work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Arab American National Museum, Art Week Miami, JADA Art Fair, Norwest Gallery, Detroit Artist Market, Ann Arbor Art Center, The Scarab Club and more. She is a founding member of Art Mamas Alliance.