By Nick SestanovichSunday, November 12, 2023 Read on Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Join us on November 1 for a conversation between Lisa Dent, Elissa Blount Moorhead, and Maori Karmael Holmes about the problems and potentials of art institutions in the United States. The conversation will be mediated by Dr. Gina Dent.
Art institutions have struggled with issues of inclusion and have often failed to serve communities of color. Despite overt structural obstacles, Black cultural professionals and producers are at the forefront of institution-building through a liberation lens. In this conversation, guests will discuss their experiences leading and building art institutions. They will also address the challenges and possibilities this field can offer to those thinking through liberation.
Lisa Dent is an advocate for living artists and cultural workers. Her background includes work in film, theater and the visual arts as a curator, gallerist, writer, production designer, and creative producer. She is the Director of Public Programs at Mass MoCA, and previously was the Executive Director of Artspace New Haven. Dent was the director of resources & award programs at Creative Capital, leading the financial and advisory services programs and advising artists towards the full realization of their projects. Prior to Creative Capital, Lisa was associate curator of contemporary art at the Columbus Museum of Art, where she organized exhibitions including Stephanie Syjuco: Pattern Migration, Currents: Latifa Echakhch, and Supply & Demand. Dent was a Helena Rubenstein Fellow at the MoMA and held curatorial staff positions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. From 2004-08, Lisa owned Lisa Dent Gallery in San Francisco where she presented the work of emerging and mid-career international artists. Dent received her BFA from Howard University, her MFA from NYU, and completed the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in curatorial studies.
Elissa Blount Moorhead is an artist and director investigating the poetics of quotidian Black life. She is the founder of Seven Stories Inc., a production company which creates films, television programs, and time-based-installations. She is exploring both immutable Blackness and the impermanence of its physical manifestations in film. Moorhead has created public art, film exhibitions, and cultural programs, and co-created multimedia projects including Random Occurrences; Cat Calls (Street Harassment project); Practicum; FunkGodJazzMedicine; and Art in Odd Places. Recent awards include the USA Artist Award, Saul Zaentz Innovation Fellowship, Sundance Episodic Lab, Ford Foundation /Just Films/Rockwood Fellowship, Ruby Award, Creative Capital Award, and the Baker Award Prize. Projects she has directed include; Jay Z’s short film 4:44, a documentary on artist Damon Davis for PBS, an AR/film projection installation, As of A Now, and Back and Song, a four channel film installation in collaboration with filmmaker Bradford Young. She is the author of P is for Pussy, an illustrated “children’s” book and is featured essayist in the anthology How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance. She was a 2020 resident at Eyebeam and a Sundance Episodic Lab participant and awarded the Comedy Central Award and the Women at Sundance Adobe Fellowship for her series co- created with her sister, writer Ericka Blount Danois, entitled fiftyTWO. She was a recent Bellagio Resident in Lake Como Italy, and featured artist in Liquid Blackness Symposium: Claiming the B-Side. She has museum shows touring in St. Louis, NYC, and Berlin in 2024.
Maori Karmael Holmes is the founder of BlackStar Projects. She has organized film programs at Anthology Film Archives, ICA Philadelphia, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, The Underground Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art. She has organized the exhibitions Terence Nance: Swarm (2023), Assemblage (2019), and Lossless (2017). She hosts the podcast Many Lumens and her writing has appeared in Seen, Documentary Magazine, The Believer, Film Quarterly, Pleasure Activism, How We Fight White Supremacy, and Collective Wisdom: Co-Creating Media Within Communities Across Disciplines and Algorithms. In 2023, Maori was announced as a recipient of the United States Artists Beresford Prize and as a Philadelphia’s Cultural Treasures Fellow. In 2022, she was named as one of the Kennedy Center’s #Next50. She was Mediamaker-in-Residence at the Annenberg School at University of Pennsylvania (2020-2023), a Soros Equality Fellow (2019-2020), a DOC NYC New Leader (2021), a Ford Foundation JustFilms/Rockwood Fellow (2016), and a Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow (2014). Maori received her MFA in Film from Temple University, her BA in History from American University, and received formative training at Howard University and CalArts.