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Artistic Innovations

2014 Recipients

For activities between July 1, 2013–June 30 2014


Walton Arts Center Council, Inc.(Fayetteville) for Bear State of Mind, an original production created by Walton Arts Center (WAC) and partners Trike Theater for Youth, playwright Ashley Edwards, and songwriter Shannon Wurst. Designed for Kindergarten-second grade students, the play uses music, drama, and puppetry to tell the story of Bear, who, when separated from his family, travels through three of Arkansas’ geographic regions meeting new friends and uncovering native wildlife, folklore, and state symbols. The script is based on Kindergarten-second grade Arkansas history and social studies curriculum.

Northwest Arkansas Prison Story Project (Fayetteville) for a four-month, twice-weekly storytelling workshop. In the twice-weekly session, the twelve incarcerated women examine storytelling through literature, poetry, songwriting, film, and personal essay. The end result of each NWA Prison Story Project semester is a performance of a staged reading by local actresses of a script created from the inmate’s writings performed inside the prison for the entire prison population and then outside the prison for the community-at-large.


Chad Freidrichs (Columbia) for The Secrets of Nature Revealed, a feature-length documentary that recounts the wonderfully strange evolution of the often discredited idea of spontaneous generation (the notion that living things like mice, flies and microbes can arise fully formed from dead and decaying matter). The method of creating this film is an experimental undertaking: the transformation of materials, discovering long-forgotten gems of filmmaking, many of which are in the public domain, and using innovative projection techniques (high-definition film transfer, camera motion control, image re-recording from high-resolution displays, and projection on and through various materials) to modify and create appropriately stunning visuals which, from a technological standpoint, would have made this project impossible even a decade ago.

Sarah Paulsen (St. Louis) for Elegy to Connie, a documentary that addresses the events leading up to and following the Kirkwood City Council shooting through stop-motion animation, as retold by a group of unintentional women activists, bound together by their friendship to slain Councilwoman Connie Karr. Addressing issues of inequality in local politics, governmental alienation, and community healing, this film illustrates the complicated issues surrounding this mass shooting.

Circus Flora, Inc. (St. Louis) for Circus Alive, a series of fifteen pop-up circus performances and programs at various locations throughout St. Louis. This dynamic new program will feature world-renowned performers, such as the Flying Wallendas, as well as highly skilled local artists. Each program will consist of two acts, the first featuring professional artists, and the second, a collaborative performance by the artists and members of the audience. The intermission between acts will serve as a mini-workshop during which audience members learn simple skills and routines. Circus Flora would like to develop best practices that can be replicated in other cities where the organization tours, or that currently have a vibrant community of circus artists.

Dance St. Louis (St. Louis) for New Dance Horizons, which pairs St. Louis’ leading dance companies: Saint Louis Ballet, Leverage Dance Theater, and Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company with diverse, nationally renowned choreographers to create three world premieres. The companies and choreographers will spend three weeks in the creative process, culminating in three performances at the Touhill Performing Arts Center Oct. 4-5, 2013. Then a tour of New Dance Horizons will bring these new works to underserved communities.

Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City) for the in-progress New Play Reading Series. This series of readings of new plays still unpublished in manuscript form provides emerging and established playwrights with a process for new play development. The Unicorn is a charter member of the National New Play Network and works with colleagues around the country to identify, develop, exchange and produce new works.


The Kent Bellows Studio and Center for Visual Arts (Omaha) for young artist mentoring programs. Over sixteen-week courses of study, at-risk youth aged 14-18 are provided mentoring, art making materials, and independent studio time to develop their personal strengths and new levels of creativity. In these programs, students come to the studio twice a week to work alongside a mentor artist. Each semester of programming culminates with a student-curated, student-run community arts exhibition.

Anti-Defamation League: Plains State Region (Omaha) for Typecast | Recast: Art of Experience, Engagement & Respect, which will engage the community in dialogue about prejudice, hate, and respect through innovative and adventurous temporary public artworks in North Downtown Omaha. The project will feature works from six-ten commissioned regional artists with an educational curriculum and online resources intended to challenge perceptions, break down stereotypes, and initiate dialogue. Supplementary workshops, and facilitated discussions will take place in schools in Southeast Nebraska and Western Iowa. Typecast | Recast is integral to ADL’s goal of making the Plains States Region No Place for Hate by 2016.

Watie White (Omaha) for All That Ever Was, Always Is, a collaboration among Watie White Studio, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, and high school students. The project explores the rich history contained within condemned homes through a combination of visual arts, design, anthropology, and narrative. These condemned homes, set for imminent demolition, are used as narrative inspiration, material sources, and temporary public gallery space. White’s Studio has developed a process for removing the installed artwork from each condemned home in a manner that preserves the integrity of the space surrounding each installed piece for future touring installations.


Oklahoma City Theatre Company (Oklahoma City) for the Native American New Play Festival, which gives a voice and a stage to Native writers by facilitating the presentation of their plays for the very first time. The two-week event will take place May 8–18, 2014. Company actors and directors collaborate with the playwrights to mount two-three staged readings of 2014 finalist submissions and offer workshops to build a larger and more flexible native talent pool.

Romy Owens (Oklahoma City) for An Imagined Motherhood, a site-specific installation of an immersive sanctuary in which themes of femininity and feminism are explored while discussing the broader cultural issues involved in choosing whether to have children, specifically the challenge that (primarily) women face regarding career vs. children. The installation will be included in the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s triennial exhibition Art 365 in March 2014 and close in Tulsa in August 2014.

Bryan Cook (Oklahoma City) for Give Nature Time, a year-long exploration of the idea that civilization, our cities, or our homes are separate from an environment “out there” which encourages an attitude of conflict and separation, an attitude that prevents us from engaging the world on its own terms. The project culminates with very large scale photographs (up to 84 inches in width) of America’s wilderness to be included in two shows as part of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s triennial exhibition Art 365.


Forklift Danceworks (Austin) for PowerUP, a grand civic spectacle featuring over fifty Austin Energy linemen as the exclusive performers. Weaving together choreographed movement drawing from the employees’ everyday work, documented interviews, a set of twenty utility poles, repair vehicles, high wire risks, and an original score by Graham Reynolds performed by a live orchestra and conducted by Austin Symphony Conductor Peter Bay, PowerUP will be a free evening-length performance for audiences of over 5,000, celebrating city workers while drawing attention to the inherent beauty and artistry in their work. Artistic experimentation with the linemen’s movement of climbing power poles will allow the choreographer to work with vertical space in ways that are never afforded in a traditional theatre or any other outdoor, site-specific projects.

Jason Neulander (Austin) for The Intergalactic Nemesis, Book Three: Twin Infinity, the final installment of The Intergalactic Nemesis trilogy. The live-action graphic novel combines theatre, music, sonic art, and visual art under one performance umbrella. Three actors voice all the characters, a Foley artist creates all the sound effects, and a keyboardist performs a cinematic score, while an original adventure story set in 1942 is told visually through the projection of more than 1,100 hand-drawn, full-color, hi-res comic-book panels on a two story-high screen.

VSA Texas (Austin) for Body Shift, central Texas’ mixed-ability dance community of people with and without disabilities. VSA Texas will bring international choreographer Gerda König and her artistic team (director Gustavo Fijalkow, assistant Marc Stuhlmann, and company dancers) for an artistic residency to create an original production with Body Shift. König is the choreographer of Germany’s DIN A 13 tanzcompany, a mixed ability dance ensemble that challenges the visual habits and aesthetic categories of contemporary dance.

Ana Maria Maynard (Austin) for When Nature Sings, a workshop and presentation as part of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center’s Taino Project at Pedernales Falls State Park. This project will use original photography and inspirational anecdotes based in native Taino spirituality to present the timeless wisdom that can be learned from nature’s subtle but impressive performances.

The Bridge Club Collaborative (Huntsville) for The Trailer, a mobile installation and series of live performance artworks centered around a vintage camper. The interior of the trailer has been transformed to more closely resemble a Victorian sitting room with alterations that include tufted velvet upholstery, custom woodworking and a crystal chandelier. This ornate interior conflicts with the notion of mobility, allowing the project to embody a search for what is distinct in our increasingly homogenous culture, while addressing our simultaneous and conflicting desires for adventure and security, experience and memory.

DiverseWorks (Houston) for the commission of a new body of work including a performance, film, and site-specific installation by Los Angeles-based artist Wu Tsang. Tsang, a transgender second-generation Chinese-American, is internationally known for creating works that explore human stories at the intersections of complex identities. Tsang will partake in an extended residency with DiverseWorks, involving multiple trips to Houston over the next year culminating in a performance which will be documented and incorporated into a larger film project and exhibition to be presented at DiverseWorks in April/May of 2014.

Olivia Chacon (Austin) for Búsquedas: The Search, a new work of original flamenco music and dance by A’lante Flamenco Dance Ensemble. Búsquedas imagines a mythical dialogue with Kahlil Gibran’s fictional prophet Almustafa on how to live in the modern world, using music and dance as a common idiom. The creative goal of the work is to use the centuries-old, traditional art of flamenco as a medium to contrast the new realities of a digital world with the timeless universality of human experience and emotion, with the object of provoking audience members to consider the role of tradition in our modern times.