A regional cohort of four artists from Arizona, Utah and the Diné Nation has been selected to participate in the 2020–21 Mellon Projecting All Voices Fellowship, a joint venture between Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and ASU Gammage.
The fellows are Elizabeth Burden, Milta Ortiz, Horacio Rodriguez and Jake Skeets.
This is the third cohort for the fellowship, which provides opportunities for BIPOC artists and culture workers to advance ideas and projects that investigate race, identity, cultural heritage, power, policy, ability and/or place and community.
“This is the first time since graduate school that I get to focus entirely on my creative work,” Ortiz said. “As a BIPOC woman/mother who hustles to make a career for myself and earn an income, this fellowship affords me the time and support to deepen my craft.”
Projecting All Voices fellows have access to a network of resources that includes mentorship, unrestricted financial support, professional development experiences, opportunities to develop and present their work, and connection to experts in the field.
Through the fellowship, artists work with communities underrepresented in higher education and art institutions. Fellows also inform conversations about how educational and cultural institutions must adapt to prepare, support and advance the creative voices of a changing America through an equitable lens and framework of practice.
“ASU Gammage is thrilled to be continuing the partnership with Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts in advancing the Mellon Projecting All Voices Fellowship,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president for cultural affairs and executive director of ASU Gammage. “Supporting the artistic development of BIPOC artists and facilitating access to multiple cultural networks are fundamental to our work and embody our commitment to racial equity in the arts.”
Elizabeth Burden is a multidisciplinary artist, blending studio work with social practice. Her recent work focuses on three interrelated themes: geographies, space and place; contemporary state and societal violences; and legacies and vestiges of historical violence and trauma. The common thread that runs through all her work is to look at old realities anew, to confront those realities, reflect upon them, shape them and transform them – whether through artistic practice or through community process, she believes we can be catalysts for change. In 2019, she was artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Arts Institute (Truth and Reconciliation Residency), and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (Trainings for the Not Yet). She holds a master’s degree in geographic information science technology and bachelor’s degrees in journalism and in visual arts.
Milta Ortiz is a Salvi award-winning playwright, who moonlights as a poet, performer and writer. A transplant from the Bay Area, she now calls Tucson home. Her recent play “Pilar and Paloma” was commissioned and developed in part at Pima Community College, and she is working with Quetzal Guerrero and Borderlands Theater on "Anita," a musical in the universe of Annie with the Tucson sound. Her play “Judge Torres,” commissioned by Milagro Theatre Group, toured nationally to colleges and universities. She received NEA Artworks and NALAC Artist grants to develop and produce her play “Sanctuary,” which premiered at Borderlands Theater in September 2018. Her play “Más” was produced at San Diego State University (2018), Su Teatro (March 2017), and co-produced by Laney College (March, 2016) and Ubuntu Theater Project (May 2016). It premiered at Borderlands Theater in September 2015 thanks in part to an NEA Artworks grant and was nominated for a Steinberg-ATCA Award. Borderlands’ production toured to Northern Arizona University (2016) and Arizona State University (2017). Más was selected to the Latino Theater Commons Carnaval play festival and the Kilroys List in 2015. She co-runs Borderlands Theater and teaches theater at Pima Community College. She is mom to a creative second grader. She earned an MFA from Northwestern University and a BA from San Francisco State University.
Horacio Rodriguez is an artist and educator originally from Houston, Texas. After graduating from Montana State University with an MFA in ceramics in 2016, he received the Morales Teaching Fellowship from the University of Utah and moved to Salt Lake City to teach and further expand his studio practice. Prior to that, he studied ceramics in Japan; taught art, digital graphics and ceramics at Chavez High School on the east side of Houston, working primarily with the immigrant communities; and traveled throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, immersing himself in the culture, language and food of his ancestors.
"My work is about the many borders I have crossed in my life,” he said. “I carry many of these borders with me in my memories and produce work about these physical and psychological borders. As a product of multiple cultures and identities, my art is used as a vehicle to explore the creation of my personal narrative within the hybrid cultures of the borderlands."
Jake Skeets is Black Streak Wood, born for Water’s Edge. He is Diné from Vanderwagen, New Mexico. Skeets is the author of “Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers,” a National Poetry Series-winning collection of poems. He holds an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Skeets is also a winner of the 2018 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Contest and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He edits an online publication called Cloudthroat and organizes a poetry salon and reading series called Pollentongue, based in the Southwest. He is a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: A Diné Writers’ Collective and currently teaches at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona.
The Projecting All Voices Fellowship and visiting artist series is generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
“The Mellon Foundation’s support of the Projecting All Voices Fellowship offers ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and ASU Gammage an extraordinary opportunity to collaborate as impact partners to support the advancement of underinvested artists and communities within Arizona and throughout the Southwest region,” said Tiffany Ana López, ASU provost fellow and in-coming vice provost for inclusion and community engagement.
“Programs like this strengthen our regional arts ecosystem with the benefit of also bolstering the diversity of voice and quality of engagement in institutions of higher education.”