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Four Large-Scale Collaborations between Artists of Color and Midwest Cultural Organizations Receive $200,000 in 2016 Joyce Awards


Collaborations in Detroit, Twin Cities, Chicago Awarded $50,000 Each to Create New Works

CHICAGO — Four collaborations between artists of color and cultural organizations in Chicago, Detroit and the Twin Cities have each won $50,000 from the Joyce Foundation's annual Joyce Awards competition, it was announced today.

The Joyce Awards is the only program supporting artists of color in major Great Lakes cities. The Chicago-based foundation has awarded $2.6 million to commission 50 new works since the annual program started in 2003.

A distinctive feature of the Joyce Awards is that in addition to being new, winners' work must include the process of engaging community members to inform and shape their art. Community forums, workshops, panel discussions, social media input and one-on-one conversations will help influence each artist's final presentation.

"The Great Lakes region has so many talented artists working across genres, tackling complex social issues and bringing incredible new pieces to life," said Joyce Foundation President Ellen Alberding. "We are honored and proud to play a role in supporting this critical work."

The 2016 Joyce Awards winners include: Charles McGee and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Charles McGee, 91, is perhaps Detroit's most important and influential visual artist. The Joyce Award will allow the Wright Museum to commission McGee for what he has described as his largest and perhaps final outdoor piece, a steel sculpture titled, "United We Stand." The piece will be unveiled in July 2016 to conclude the Wright Museum's celebration of its 50th anniversary and also kick off a yearlong citywide commemoration of the 1967 racial unrest.

“The world that we live in is driven by creative tension and passion, and this piece displays the innate intelligence that orders existence,” McGee said. “I hope that the imagery presented here will serve as a beacon of enlightenment and unity. I have always been inspired by Detroit and thankful for the opportunities I have had here as an artist. I am excited and proud to share this sculpture with my city and with the many generations to come.”  Juan Angel Chávez and the Chicago Children's Museum As part of the Chicago Children's Museum upcoming renovations, visual artist, Juan Angel Chávez will create a large-scale public art installation spanning the museum's second floor walls and ceiling. Schoolchildren and museum guests will inform the content of Chávez's piece, which will continue to evolve over time with audience input. The piece will be installed in the summer of  2017.

“The nature of my work is usually very large in scale and its experience is short-lived due to its temporary nature. I’ve neverhad the opportunity to create a permanent, interactive piece of this magnitude.” Chavez said. “I am excited and honored to have received a Joyce Award, because it affords me the opportunity to create the vision for a permanent project in collaboration with the Chicago Children’s Museum that can be experienced by thousands of people for years to come.”

Penumbra Theatre with Imani Uzuri and Zakiyyah Alexander

Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, Minn. will commission musician and composer Imani Uzuri and playwright Zakiyyah Alexander to stage GIRL Shakes Loose Her Skin in the spring of 2017. The play revisits vitally important work from the Black Arts Movement and delivers it in a fresh and vibrant way. It will be presented by Sarah Bellamy, who takes over artistic director duties from her father, Lou Bellamy.

"When we first began work on GIRL Shakes Loose Her Skin, we had no idea what we were getting into and no plan on how we would continue to develop this work," said Alexander. "Winning a Joyce Award means that we get a chance to finally put all the moving pieces together as part of a historic season at Penumbra Theatre. An award like this ensures our forward momentum.”

Ragamala Dance Company with Aparna Ramaswamy and Kyle Abraham

Minneapolis-based Ragamala Dance Company will commission choreographers/performers Aparna Ramaswamy and Kyle Abraham to create a new work to be presented at the Walker Art Center, with live music from Colin Jacobsen. Drawing from the artists' own experience of cultural hybridity, the new work will be informed by concepts of identity and place. The process will incorporate various community discussions and workshops, and will premiere in the fall of 2017.

"The Joyce Award will allow us to experience this dialogue with the public in an ongoing way over time and to see how it can translate into an artistic work that crosses genre and form," said Ramaswamy. "I feel many points of kinship with Kyle, specifically the way in which each of us finds grounding in traditions that are deeply rooted.  It is important to us and to Ragamala that this project have an enduring impact on the Twin Cities community, and we are eager to see how this long-term engagement will impact our creative process.”

The Joyce Foundation's  Culture Program Director, Angelique Power,  said this year's recipients reflect the people and ideas that are emanating from the Midwest's creative hubs.

"For more than a decade, the Joyce Awards have made possible new artwork that is vital and frankly needed to enhance the art world's voices and perspectives," said Power. "This year's winners feature new important voices in theater, dynamic collaborations across culture and moving contemporary art experiences for our youngest museum goers."

For images and more information, please visit the Joyce Awards web page here.

About the Joyce Foundation

The Joyce Foundation works with grantee partners to improve quality of life, promote community vitality, and achieve a fair society. We focus grant making primarily on the Great Lakes region, and also have national impact through our program areas -- Education, Employment, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention, Democracy and Culture. Our Culture program focuses on strengthening and diversifying arts organizations, building capacity within the arts sector and investing in the creative capital of artists of color. Joyce was established in 1948 in Chicago, and over the years has continued to respond to changing social needs. For more information, please visit our website or follow us on Twitter @JoyceFdn.

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