For activities between July 1, 2016–June 30, 2017

M-AAA has selected its next recipients for its esteemed Artistic Innovations Grants, awarding up to $15,000 to individual artists and arts organizations throughout M-AAA’s region. In total, more than $230,000 has been awarded to seventeen grant recipients for the creation of new, original artworks that result in public engagement. With generous support from the Windgate Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, grants of up to $15,000 are distributed after review and selection by a panel of artists and arts professionals.

Mary Kennedy, CEO of Mid-America Arts Alliance, said, “We are committed to fostering creativity and to providing the direct support that artists need to flourish. We are delighted to announce that through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Windgate Charitable Foundation, we are fueling some of the best creative endeavors in the region.”


Dallas Black Dance Theatre ($15,000) – Dallas, TX
Post Modern Jukebox is a new dance work from one of the group’s senior dancers, Sean J. Smith, to be presented during the 40th anniversary season of the company. The dance investigates and sensationalizes the traditional stereotypes of men and women in relationships throughout various decades of the twentieth century. Opening with the barbershop classic “Hello My Baby,” the section features male dancers in the throes of desperation. For a complete contrast, the female dancers take the stage for the second section in a slow classic jazz standard, “Tea for Two,” sung by Eydie Gorme. From there, the back and forth continues.

Oklahoma City Ballet ($15,000) – Oklahoma City, OK
Our Private Rooms is a new contemporary ballet by Artistic Director Robert Mills. The piece will utilize eight dancers performing in flat shoes, exploring two different types of personas that relationships portray. One is for the public eye, and one is revealed behind closed doors. The outreach program will tie into this performance the organization’s BalletReach program. BalletReach provides ballet training to students at underserved public schools in the Oklahoma City and Ada areas.

St. Louis ArtWorks ($15,000) – St. Louis, MO
This Is How We Roll: Stepping Off the Tracks is a collaboration between St. Louis ArtWorks and MADCO (Modern American Dance Company) to create, choreograph, and perform at least three pop-up performances near the University of Missouri–St. Louis campus, the Regional Arts Commission, and an area near Loop East Delmar Boulevard that St. Louis ArtWorks now calls home. With teaching artists identified by Stacy West, MADCO’s executive and artistic director, ArtWorks apprentices aged 14–19 will perform, bringing awareness to the economic divide that Delmar represents in the St. Louis region through transportation, specifically public transportation, bridging and dividing communities.

Tulsa Ballet Theatre ($15,000) – Tulsa, OK
Emerging Choreographers Showcase offers a unique experience for choreographers and dancers alike, featuring new works by budding choreographers from within Tulsa Ballet’s main company. All works are set with the dancers of Tulsa Ballet II.


Timothy DePaepe + Dr. Kelly Chong ($15,000) – Kansas City, MO
AB refers to the moniker of the little known Missouri-born painter and poet Albert Bloch (1882–1961). This is the first documentary film about the lone American of the revolutionary art movement Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Riders) that originated in Germany (1911–14). The film project is moving into its final phase of production and post-production. Screenings of the final cut will take place in March 2017, before implementing a strategic film festival submission process.


Tulsa Symphony ($15,000) – Tulsa, OK
Muskogee Song Cycle is the creation of a new work by Chickasaw Nation composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate. The work will be written for children’s choir and orchestra. The premiere performance will take place during the 2017 OK Mozart Festival in Bartlesville and will feature a children’s choir, including youth of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, singing hymns in the original Creek language. Community engagement workshops and presentations will be held at a variety of educational and cultural institutions in the weeks leading up to the premiere.


Conway Symphony Orchestra ($7,900) – Conway, AR
The Halloween Tree
Conway Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is granted $7,900 to cover commission fees, artist fees, space rental, outreach, and other activities for three shadow puppet and orchestral music performances of Ray Bradbury’s novel The Halloween Tree. Through live music, spoken word, and puppetry, this experimental production follows a group of four children on a journey along the border between life and death as they seek to find and save their dying friend Pipkin on Halloween night.

TheatreSquared ($15,000) – Fayetteville, AR
2017 Arkansas New Play Festival
Engaging more than thirty local and regional professional theatre artists, the 2017 Arkansas New Play Festival is the state’s only dedicated professional laboratory for the development of new plays. TheatreSquared (T2) presents two full weekends of performances both in Fayetteville and in Little Rock, including four staged readings and a fully produced premiere. In addition to work by professional playwrights, T2 produces a showcase of ten-minute plays written by high school students from across Arkansas.

Tricycle Theatre for Youth ($15,000) – Bentonville, AR
Adelita Rodeo: A Cinderella Story
Tricycle Theatre for Youth (Trike Theatre) will create a new, original bilingual play, Adelita Rodeo: A Cinderella Story (Adelita). Key to its Spanish language and culturally nuanced development is the partnership with Al Lopez (better known as Papa Rap) and his organization One Community, a local non-profit dedicated to bringing communities together. The project will culminate in ten performances and pre- and post-show workshops with first through third grade students and their families in five Northwestern Arkansas schools (Bayyari and Sonora in Springdale; Eastside Elementary and Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers; and Apple Glen Elementary in Bentonville). In 2017–18, Adelita will be fully produced in Walton Art Center’s Colgate Classroom series.


337 Project on behalf of Sandhills Institute ($12,500) – Omaha, NE
Blowout Residency, Workshops, and Exhibition is a continuation of the socially engaged artistic research by artist TJ Edwards with the support of the Sandhills Institute in the summer of 2015 surrounding the issue of blowouts in the Sandhills. Blowouts—depressions in sand dunes caused by destabilized root systems and wind—are a problem for ranchers, who lose valuable grazing area as a result of this natural action. Many ranchers will attempt to arrest the erosion by dumping tires and other junk into the blowouts, simply to hold the sandy soils down. Edwards proposes to work with local ranchers and range management scientists to examine blowout remediation through art interventions, both as an aesthetic undertaking and as a pragmatic alternative to tire dumping for ranchers looking to prevent blowout expansion.

Amarillo Art Center Association, known as Amarillo Museum of Art ($15,000) – Amarillo, TX
Plexus: A Gabriel Dawe Installation
Growing up as a boy in Mexico, Gabriel Dawe was forbidden to explore the artistic elements of textiles and embroidery, a discipline thought to be reserved only for women. Nevertheless, the color and intensity of his culture began appearing in his artwork. Now based in Dallas, Dawe is enjoying a career of creating mind-bending thread installations that comprise a series of works titled Plexus. Dawe will install his site-specific work at the Amarillo Museum of Art and speak about his work at the opening of the exhibition.

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston ($14,000) – Houston, TX
Teen Council Exhibition is a teen-focused program led by Jamal Cyrus, Teen Council coordinator, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH). The Teen Council, a group of 12–15 motivated teenagers employed by CAMH, create programming for their peers. In addition to their regular meetings, studio and gallery visits, discussions with individuals in the arts industry, and hands-on programming, every two years Teen Council organizes an exhibition in the museum’s Zilkha Gallery that premieres the original artwork of Houston-area teens. The next exhibition is on view from February 3–April 30, 2017.

DiverseWorks ($15,000) – Houston, TX
House of Wahalaa
The artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji has been commissioned to create and present a live collaborative performance. Ogunji, a Nigerian-born visual and performance artist based in Austin, TX, is best known for works that use her own body to explore movement and mark-making across water, land, and air. This is the second Artistic Innovations Grant for DiverseWorks.

Fisterra Projects ($15,000) – Austin, TX
The XYZ Atlas: The Experience Map of Bryan/College Station
The XYZ Atlas is Texas artist Jennifer Chenoweth’s way of mapping emotional experiences that create meaning in people’s lives. Project participants share the most powerful emotional events—their highest highs and their lowest lows—experienced in the city. The responses are collated and condensed into data points that convey critical pieces of information: the GIS coordinates that map the precise locations where these extreme emotions were experienced (X and Y axis), and the “height” or the magnitude of the felt emotions, with “up” representing a positive experience and “down” for a negative experience (Z axis). At the invitation of Texas A&M University, she has created gallery talks, an exhibition, and a mapping event to bring the project to the Texas cities of Bryan and College Station to explore the historical relationship between the two abutting cities. The project aims to show how experiences can be literally mapped onto the landscape, not just into our hearts.

Calder Kamin ($5,500) – Austin, TX
Calder Kamin: A Call to Action at Women & Their Work
This exhibition, Calder Kamin: A Call To Action, is the artist’s largest and most ambitious solo endeavor to date. The exhibition includes all new works in multiple mediums across the 1,800-square-foot space of Women & Their Work in Austin, Texas, September–November 2016. Thematically focused on climate change, synthetic materials in the environment, and how we can be better stewards of the earth and its animals, Kamin will present and collect content for this exhibition during the SXSW Interactive, Darwin Day at Texas A&M, National Citizen Science Day, and the 45 Fest at Cunningham Elementary.

Tara S. O’Nay ($11,000) – St. Louis, MO
Dysfunctionalware: White Privilege Dinner Dialogues is an innovative mass-collaboration that partners with local organizations, groups, and businesses to instigate real conversation about race and privilege by welcoming local people to the table, literally. The project involves a set of handmade fine china, used as a symbol to represent racial privilege. This fine china, used to spur conversations on local racial inequities in the St. Louis area, is called Dysfunctionalware. The physical artwork serves as a reminder of the disruption often caused when members of white families attempt to discuss racial issues and privilege at the dinner table. Twenty local artists will be commissioned to create one to two black-and-white illustrations each, in their own aesthetics, to be reproduced on the handmade dishware and used during dinners hosted by various organizations throughout the St. Louis metro area.

Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA) ($15,000) – Lubbock, TX
Los Latinos de Tejas is a dynamic group of exhibitions organized to mark the Underwood Center for the Arts’ 20th anniversary year. Featuring Latino artists from Texas, these exhibitions will include a variety of art media and stylistic approaches and will be co-curated by Linda Cullum, curator at Underwood Center for the Arts, and Tina Fuentes, artist and professor at Texas Tech University.