Below are links to important projects I've been working in/on....
Between the Bottomlands & the World is a long term colloaborative project with Ryan Griffis that explores Beardstown, IL, a rural Midwestern town of 6000 people--a place of global exchange and international mobility, inscribed by post-NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) realities. It consists of a series of videos, photographs, exhibitions and narrative writing. The video series tells a story of Beardstown in three acts. Act One: Submerging Land, portrays a landscape massively engineered to redirect water for the production of commodity crops. Act Two: Granular Space, is a meditation on the movement and scale of the international grain trade--from one seed to millions of bushels, moved from field, to elevator, to barge, to ocean going vessel. Act Three: Moving Flesh, chronicles how and why so many people from around the world have come to Beardstown, a formerly all-white, Sundown town of 6000 people.
Moving Flesh is based on the research, analysis and fieldwork of Faranak Miraftab published in her book "Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives, and Local Placemaking" Featuring a soundtrack by Mark Cooley, and the acting of Karen Alderidge, John Gray, Saren Nofs-Snyder, Yunuen Pardo, Mateo Smith, Eddie Torres and visual and audio assistance by Casey Puccini and M. Anthony Reimer.
Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project is a project I co-founded in 2012. After teaching for several years in IL prisons and feeling isolated and overwhelmed by the crisis of incarceration, I worked with an amazing cohort of artists and educators to shape a project that fosters a public discourse by and with incarcerated people about criminalization, incarceration, art and education and shaping a world we want to live in. PNAP is now a teaching collective / visual arts and humanities project that connects teaching artists and scholars to people at Stateville Prison and organizes regular discussions, exhbitions and events in the Chicago area. At the prison we host a guest lecture series and teach 13 classes each year on subjects that include art history, Latino studies, African American history, gender studies, poetry, creative writing and art. Guest lectures and classes typically look at intersections of education, art, poverty, race, violence, gender, social movements and communities of care. Classes are held once a week, on a 14 week semester schedule and often produce projects—visual art, creative writing and critical essays—with specific audiences and neighborhoods in mind.
In 2012 I joined Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) -- a group of artists, lawyers, activists, educators and survivors of Chicago Police torture. The project started in 2010 when CTJM put out a call for speculative memorials to recall and honor the two-decades long struggle for justice waged by torture survivors and their families, attorneys, community organizers, and people from every neighborhood and walk of life in Chicago. This effort culminated in several exhibitions, a year-long series of associated teach-ins, roundtables, and other public events -- and importantly a call for reparations. Between 2013-2015 we worked with city Aldermen to introduce an ordinance for reparations for survivors and their families. In 2015 the ordinance passed only with the support, advocacy and activism of CTJM, We Charge Genocide, Amnesty International and Project NIA. The reparations ordinance marks the first instance of reparations to people + their families who have been harmed by the police. Plenty of writing and history of the cases and the movement can be found at the websites of CTJM, Project NIA, WCG and AI.
Regional Relationships started as a project between collaborator Ryan Griffis and myself. We commissioned artists, scholars, writers and activists to create works that investigate the natural, industrial and cultural landscapes of a region. We wanted a platform to re-imagine the spaces and cultural histories around us. It was an invitation to join in seeing what we can learn—and learning what we can see—by juxtaposing spaces and narratives that are usually kept apart. Nowadays, we are continuing the project by collaborating with other artists to continue a project about globalization in rural spaces. In the coming year we'll be working on a project that looks at the soy feilds of Brazil-- an landscape that mirrors that of the U.S. corn/soy belt.