Ted and Katie Blair Ukrop Visiting Artists Fund
Eilen Itzel Mena
Eilen Itzel Mena is an Afro-Dominican American artist, write and community organizer from the South Bronx based in Los Angeles and New York. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2017, with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts. Her visual arts practice synthesizes Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism and African Diaspora spiritual frameworks through interdisciplinary work. In her social practice, she serves as a Co-Director and creative collaborator for Honey and Smoke, a global artist community and platform focused on creating space for artists to meditate on the important themes of our time through themed seasons. It is a conceptual project that explores these themes through new media and interactive digital content. She is also a Principal Member of Zeal. Zeal is a Black artist cooperative, creative agency and studio that creates infrastructure for Black artists to thrive.
Dread Scott makes revolutionary art to propel history forward. His work is exhibited across the US and internationally. In 1989, his art became the center of national controversy over its transgressive use of the American flag, while he was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dread became part of a landmark Supreme Court case when he and others defied the new law by burning flags on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. He has presented at TED talk on this. Dread’s studio is now based in Brooklyn.
Lobyn Hamilton and Samuel Levi Jones
Lobyn Hamilton conjures the likenesses of political activists, pop icons, musicians and unfamiliar faces/images onto canvas, sometimes onto a vintage turntable, and most recently in large-scale installations. His work is constructed from hundreds, even thousands, of broken pieces of vinyl records that he composes into images.
Samuel Levi Jones’ work is informed by historical source material and early modes of representation in documentary practice. For many of his works, he deconstructs out-of-date encyclopedias, law books, or medical books and uses them to re-imagining new works that explore power structures and struggles between exclusion and equality.
Concerned with history, Ja’Tovia Gary seeks to liberate the distorted pathways through which Black life is often viewed while fleshing out a nuanced and multivalent Black interiority. Through documentary film and experimental video art, Gary charts the ways structures of power shape our perceptions around representation, race, gender, sexuality, and violence. Gary is currently at work on her debut feature-length documentary film, tentatively titled The Evidence of Things Not Seen, which explores notions of family, memory, and ancestral inheritance.
Jiménez-Flores is a Mexican born artist who creates socio-political work that explores themes of colonization, migration (voluntary or involuntary), “the other,” stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Jiménez-Flores has presented his work at the National Museum of Mexican Art, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and Casa de la Cultura in Jalisco, México amongst others. He recently completed a two year-long artist residency at the Harvard Ceramics Program, Office of the Arts at Harvard University and served as the Artist-In-Residence for the City of Boston. Jiménez-Flores is a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant and a grant from The New England Foundation for the Arts.
Dr. Kelli Morgan
As a critical race cultural historian, Dr. Morgan specializes in American art and visual culture. Her interdisciplinary research concentrates primarily on historic African-American women artists, however her curatorial work often examines, critiques and theorizes the ways in which American artists, art objects, art history and art institutions both challenge and support the systematic mechanisms of anti-Black violence and oppression in the United States.
In her bold, confident and vibrant paintings and works on paper, Self plays inventively with figuration, deconstructing and recreating the Black female body, using various techniques, including collage. Pieces of collected fabric – sometimes African or African-inspired cloth given to her by her mother – and paper or perhaps sections of an earlier unresolved work, are sewn directly onto a work. The fractured figure so created seems to assert its own self-defined identity, and thereby fulfil the artist’s intention. Working in this way with mixed-media allows Self to blend fact with fiction, reality with imagination as she explores how the Black female body functions as a social and political symbol.
Dr. Wafaa Bilal
Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal is known internationally for his on-line performative and interactive works provoking dialogue about international and interpersonal politics. Bilal’s work explores tensions between the cultural spaces he occupies —his home in the comfort zone of the U.S. and his consciousness in the conflict zone in Iraq. For his 2007 installation, Domestic Tension, Bilal spent a month in FlatFile Galleries where people could shoot him via a remote-access paintball gun. The Chicago Tribune called it “one of the sharpest works of political art to be seen in a long time”—naming him 2008 Artist of the Year. That year, City Lights published Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun about Bilal’s life and Domestic Tension.
Co-hosted by Peace & Conflict Studies DePauw University
Dr. Bilal was awarded an honorary Doctor of Performing Arts from DePauw University in 2019
Marc Swanson (American, b.1969) works in diverse media, including sculpture, drawing, collage, photography, video, and installation. The artist employs a refined range of materials, relying on a concentrated vocabulary of wood, glass, textile, naturally-shed animal antlers, and precious metals. He often juxtaposes “high” and “low” materials in the same work: rhinestones, gold and silver chain, and black mirrored panels meet lumberyard two-by-fours and white cotton t-shirts coated in latex. In these juxtapositions, the former adorns the latter in a way that is transformative for both.