CATALYST INITIATIVE: PROJECT PORTRAITS
The work of the artists, partners and stakeholders who have been a part of the Catalyst Initiative are documented in individual project portraits that tell the story of each team's work together. All of the portraits are linked below, or can be found through CPCP on Issuu.
Mark Strandquist, an artist, activist, and educator, worked with the Legal Aid Justice Center's JustChildren Program, Virginia's largest children's law program, and ART 180- an organization that provides art-based workshops for youth. Their work together focused on how intentional arts-based training and strategic partnerships can create a container for incarcerated youth to publicly communicate their needs and perspectives in spaces where their voices are often silent. Their story over a year of collaboration is one of using youth-created art to educate civic leaders and policymakers, co-designing an arts-based training program with the Richmond Police Department to reduce the number of youth arrests, and inviting public investment in developing strategies that help make their communities safe, just, and whole.
In this project, artist Jennie Hahn, based in Portland, Maine, worked with Stephanie Gilbert, Farm Viability and Farmland Protection Specialist at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Their work together focused on how artistic practice could illuminate issues of farming and conversation by creating spaces and process for varied stakeholders to be in dialogue about complex and, at times, polarizing issues. Their story together, over a year of collaboration, is one of deepening relationships; land-based creative experiences; discovering the powerful invitation art can make in non-arts settings that allows people to engage with each other; and how that invitation, when accepted, informs and even alters the quality of decision-making and coalition-building that can occur.
Yolanda Wisher, poet and educator, worked with Trapeta Mayson of Historic Germantown in Philadelphia, a partnership organization of sixteen historical houses, destinations and museums in Northwest Philadelphia’s Old German Township that works collaboratively to preserve its extraordinary historic assets, increase access, interpret them to the public and raise their visibility. Their work together focused on Yolanda’s artistic practice and innovative project design to create an educational program that brings Germantown youth into active dialogue with historic sites and residents, inviting them to be leaders and co-creators. Their story over a year of collaboration is one of experimentation and testing, balancing vision with resources, combining art and technology to activate historic places, and creating a model that invites and empowers young people to build a relationship with and become stewards of their neighborhood.
Patrick Mullins, a theater artist, worked with the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads, a program of ACCESS AiDS Care that promotes LGBT health and human rights, while providing a safe space for the LGBT community. Their work together focused on how theater can facilitate a space that empowers trans people to educate, advocate, and deepen understanding of transgender issues through publicly sharing their personal experiences. Their story over a year of collaboration is one of profound listening and trust-building, being fully present in moments of complexity and challenge, and creating an invitation for public support, empathy, and investment towards a community of people who are often marginalized.
new orleans and the gulf coast
In this project, artist Nick Slie, with his collaborators at Mondo Bizarro and ArtsSpot Productions, all based in New Orleans, worked with Gulf Future Coalition, a culturally and racially diverse group representing fishermen, faith leaders, environmentalists, clean-up workers, residents and cultural workers, who live and work on the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida. Their work together focused on using the original show Cry You One as a launching pad for a series of dialogue salons in five states to raise awareness of coastal issues and ensure local participation in decision-making regarding the allocation of Federal dollars coming to the Gulf Coast via the Restore Act.
central valley, california
In this project, artist and farmer Nikiko Masumoto, based in Central California, worked with the Central Valley's Center for Land-Based Learning, a not-for-profit with ongoing programming around California. Their work focused on using Nikiko's artistic practice and process skills for capacity building with grassroots organizers who conduct educational programming around issues of hunger. Their story, over a year of collaboration, is one of relationship-building, organizational culture, and translating creative practice into settings and structures that may not initially seem conducive to change.
cowan county, kentucky
In this project, artist Mark Kidd, based in Whitesburg, KY, worked with Cowan County Community Action Group, a fifty-year-old not for profit focused on citizen-led anti-poverty efforts in Letcher County, KY. Their work together focused on bringing stakeholders into creative dialogue while exploring the legacy and future of anti-poverty work in their region. Their story together, over a year of collaboration, is one of strategizing what tools match the intention and needs of a project, developing effective invitations for productive participation, and having the patience to see and respond to what develops over the course of an evolving process.
In this project, artist Elizabeth Burden, based in Tucson AZ, engaged a small collective of local artists to work with several Tucson organizations — each of which addresses public transit and access-related issues in the community. Their work together focused on creating a public engagement strategy and online platform called Transit Talks aimed at bringing the public into dialogue with public and private decision-makers around public transit culture and options in Tucson. Their story over a year of collaboration is one of multi-disciplinary public acts, civic dialogue, and a culminating invitation from a major local player in the transit ecology to continue and grow Transit Talks as an ongoing public engagement strategy.
st. louis, missouri
Artist Joan Lipkin worked with Magdalene St. Louis, a care community that offers a "two-year residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, traffickin, addiction, and life on the streets." Their work together focused on using Joan's artistic practice of constructing public narratives and inncreased visibility for an organization serving a population in crisis. Their story over a year of collaboration is one of reimagining outcomes, navigating profound institutional changes, and discovering new strategies for successful collaboration.
los angeles, california
María del Carmen Lamadrid, a media designer, and Shawn Jackson, an engineer and interaction designer, worked with David De La Torre and the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch in Los Angeles, an association of Elysian Valley residents who work together to maintain a clean and safe neighborhood. Their work together focused on how artistic practice and participatory design can amplify often overlooked voices and create strategies for a neighborhood to organize around issues of public safety. Their story over a year of collaboration is one of listening to community, designing delightful interventions around places of contention, navigating challenges faced by a population combating the effects of gentrification, and leveraging neighborhood concerns into civic action.
Artist Rulan Tangen worked with Roxanne Swentzell of Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute, an organization focused on creating healthier communities through native culture and permaculture practices. Their work together focused on building a transformational ritual of appreciation, restoration, and renewal for community leaders, while highlighting intergenerational community support systems and mentoring. Their story together over a year of collaboration is one of recreating the patterns of nature, the concepts of biomimicry and seasonal rhythms, to nourish the body, mind, spirit, heart, and to help create sustainable lifestyles for women leaders who work tirelessly in their community.
Actor and playwright Anu Yadav worked with Emily Norton of the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington, DC based progressive multi-issue think tank and community of public scholars and organizers. Their work together focused on how artistic practice can support an organization’s management team and staff as they experience strategic planning by creating environments for conversation, team-building, and visioning. Their story together over a year of collaboration is one of deep listening, trust-building and improvisation; discovering the impact an artist can have on an organization that is facing large-scale shifts; how artistic process tools can make space for a 50-year old organization to consider its legacy and future.