reflect / project is an ongoing exhibition series featuring socially engaged video work by artists who identify as LGBTQIA+, Black, Indigenous, and/or persons of color.
The reflect / project exhibition series originated in fall 2020. This series grew from the racial reckoning, shifting policy regarding LGBTQIA+ people, and the global pandemic that cracked open a vision of long-standing inequity. reflect / project serves to amplify underrepresented artists while creating a public space for viewers to consider their position in our rapidly changing world. Artists have responded to violence and discrimination throughout history and the creative works that emerged have endured over time. They become the artifacts that society measures us by, how we are remembered, and a guide to the future.
Works are projected on the street-facing gallery wall of the subCulture Lab at Mid-America Arts Alliance for one month, with new content premiering on the first Friday of each month. Additionally, selected artists will be asked to choose two artists (of any discipline) whose work will be hosted online as a complement to the work displayed in the subCulture Lab.
April 2–May 6
All in-person exhibitions will occur nightly at M-AAA headquarters, 2018 Baltimore in Kansas City, Missouri, from 7:00–10:00 p.m., and the digital exhibition accompanies below.
April’s exhibition is from El Paso, Texas artist Xochitl Rodriguez. Grown Without Water is a collective video/oral history project that explores how the US/México border between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez marks and defines perseverance on a twenty-first-century border. Confronting tragedy and magic at once, the film, documenting and translating the stories of real women who are between the ages of twenty-eight and thirty-eight, provides an alternate lens through which to view border crossing, tragedy, and brown-skinned women.
Xochitl Rodriguez was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. In 2009, she accepted an invitation from Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck as Bhutan’s first artist in residence. In 2011, Rodriguez moved to the middle of America to participate in the Charlotte Street Foundation’s Urban Culture Project. She returned home to initiate the Caldo Collective, a non-profit organization. In 2016, she organized Boundless Across Borders—a womxn’s march on the border and Braiding Borders | Trenzando Fronteras. In 2018, Rodriguez and her daughter served as ambassadors for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s We Will Not Be Tamed Campaign. The artist also was awarded an Interchange grant, M-AAA’s program that supports artists working as change agents and connectors in the region.
Xochitl Rodriguez, Grown Without Water, 2020; video, Time: 10:00 minutes; Courtesy of the artist.
Briseida “Brioch” Ochoa
acetate sheet, inkjet print, gelatin with blood and beet juice, glass
4 x 4 inches each glass (12 glasses total)
Briseida “Brioch” Ochoa
chlorophyll print on leaf
4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches
Briseida “Brioch” Ochoa
chlorophyll print on leaf
4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches
Briseida “Brioch” Ochoa
La Receta (The Recipe)
cyanotype with beet juice extract
25 x 44 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Ricardo Castro
Briseida “Brioch” Ochoa
Pliegue de una Penumbra (Fold of a Penumbra)
beet juice anthotype on BFK paper
44 x 30 inches
Courtesy of the artist
Artist Aldo Amparán is exhibiting poetry. Read the poems by clinking their linked titles, and listen to the audio files.
Aldo Amparán, “Glossary for What You Left Unsaid: Border/Cities,” 2018.
Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) is pleased to present the final lineup of outstanding artists for the reflect / project series, which features video work projected in person at M-AAA headquarters and through an online gallery with supplementary works chosen by the featured artists. Artists Xochitl Rodriguez, Brian Ellison, Sav Rodgers, and the Saint Louis Story Stitchers were selected from a competitive pool of applicants from across the six-state M-AAA region (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas). All in-person exhibitions will occur nightly at M-AAA headquarters, 2018 Baltimore in Kansas City, Missouri, from 7:00–10:00 p.m., and the digital exhibition will accompany right here.
Artist Brian Ellison of Houston, Texas, presents UnMASKunlinity, which explores the complexity of African American masculinity by documenting the daily lives of the Black experience and same-gender loving comradery, simultaneously creating safe spaces for Black men to engage in this dialogue. By dismantling the stigma associated with Black masculinity and speaking about subjects that are traditionally taboo in the Black community, the film impacts viewers and participants by allowing them to gain perspective on how the emotional boundaries that were created centuries ago, beginning with American slavery, have been passed down—reflected in how today’s Black men understand and experience their emotions.
Brian Ellison is a self-taught photographer, cinematographer, and conceptual visual artist. He is the director and producer of the film UnMASKulinity and the founder of The Black Man Project. Ellison believes there is no limit to self-expression and that art is a universal language that can be the catalyst for healing. Through his lens, Ellison documents the everyday Black experience such as gentrification’s impact on historical communities, under-publicized Black love and comradery, parenthood, and the persistent courage of Black women and men.
The Saint Louis Story Stitchers of St. Louis, Missouri, present WADE, a new film with lyrics from The WHY of MY City, which captures and documents elements of Black history through written word and art while training the next generation to become active, engaged citizens. Lyrics written and performed by KP Dennis with Stitchers Youth Council members AnnaLise, Branden, Cali, Emeara, Rachel, Shawn, and She’Kinah; Music by Ntegrity, KP Dennis, Branden, and Emeara; Urban Videography by Troy Anthony; Water and Editing by Susan Colangelo; Produced by Saint Louis Story Stitchers for The WHY of MY City, 2020.
Story Stitchers erase real and perceived divisions through cultural exploration and arts practice—by stitching together their city. Members include professional artists with experience in song and lyric writing, beat making, hip hop, and performance. Artists include photographers and videographers. Their mission is to document Saint Louis through art and word and to promote understanding, civic pride, intergenerational relationships, and literacy. The project The WHY of MY City was awarded one of M-AAA’s Artistic Innovations Grants in FY2020.
Artist Sav Rodgers of Olathe, Kansas, presents No Reason for Celebration, an archival documentary project that juxtaposes the early gay liberation movement with modern LGBTQ+ rights activism. Relying solely on the archival footage sourced by the filmmakers, this project highlights how trans people are often shunned from their own movements for the sake of “progress.” The sharp juxtaposition of these images promises to leave an impact that leaves viewers questioning, “What exactly have we been celebrating?”
Sav Rodgers is a filmmaker, writer, podcaster, film festival professional, and nonprofit executive. His work tends to center on the queer experience through a comedic or personal lens. He is the director of CHASING CHASING AMY, an upcoming feature documentary about the cultural impact of Chasing Amy (1997) on the greater LGBTQ+ community and the profound, lasting impression on his own life. Rodgers also delivered a TED Talk on the subject titled, “The rom-com that saved my life” in 2018. In 2019, he received the Filmmaker of the Year Award at the Austin Revolution Film Festival.
To visit an archive of August’s works by Campbell, Lydia Cheshewalla, and Christina Beatty, click here.
Crystal Z Campbell is a multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer of African American, Filipino, and Chinese descents whose work engages with the intersection of witnessing and public secrets. Campbell finds complexity in the public secret, or a fragment of information which is known by many, but perhaps undertold, unspoken, or underacknowledged.
Recent works revisit questions of immortality and medical ethics with Henrietta Lacks’ immortal cell line, ponder the role of a political monument and displacement in a shifting Swedish coastal landscape, and salvage a 35mm film from a demolished Black Civil Rights theater in Brooklyn as a relic of gentrification. Campbell engages with sonic, material, and archival traces of the witness through film/video, live performance, installation, sound, painting, and writing.
In a forthcoming fellowship appointment at the Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center, Campbell will continue work on SLICK, an experimental feature film centering the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and its longstanding effects on the city of Tulsa. The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre marks one of the most hushed incidents of racially motivated domestic terrorism in the United States, with over 300 people killed and 35 blocks of businesses and homes in the predominately Black community of Greenwood destroyed.
Campbell exhibits and screens internationally: The Drawing Center (US), Nest (Netherlands), ICA-Philadelphia (US), Artissima (IT), Studio Museum of Harlem (US), Project Row Houses (US), Visual Studies Workshop (US), and SculptureCenter (US), amongst others. Select honors and awards include: Pollock-Krasner Award, MAP Fund, MacDowell, M-AAA, Skowhegan, Rijksakademie, Whitney ISP, VCCA Alonzo Davis Fellowship, and Flaherty Film Seminar Fellowship.
Campbell is a concurrent Tulsa Artist Fellow and Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center & David and Roberta Logie Fellow (2020-2021) who lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
To access McKinney’s work and other information about this exhibition, visit this page.
Adam W. McKinney is a former member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet Company. He has led dance work across the US and in Benin, Canada, England, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Palestine, Poland, Rwanda, Serbia, Spain, and South Africa. Named one of the most influential African Americans in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by St. Vincent DePaul, McKinney is the Co-Director of DNAWORKS LLC, an arts and service organization committed to healing through the arts and dialogue. He holds a BFA with high honors in Dance Performance from Butler University and an MA in Dance Studies with concentrations in Race and Trauma theories from NYU-Gallatin. McKinney is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He was recently selected to participate in Mid-America Arts Alliance’s Interchange program, designed to strengthen communities and individual artists within our region by supporting artist-led projects focused on social impact.
McKinney is featuring artists Zeus Hope and Najeeb Sabour.
View Lyle’s exhibition here.
Kristen Lyle’s background in the social sciences and community organizing informs her interest in art and graphic design as a communication tool. She uses both digital and handmade techniques, including video, graphic design, historical photographic processes, printmaking, and letterpress. Inspired by artists such as Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, and Glenn Ligon, Kristen’s work aims to draw attention to voices that fall outside the “norm” in order to critically examine the visual media that we create and consume, particularly the ways in which art and design can perpetuate unexamined ideologies. Her work encourages explicit conversation about these ideas, in order to foster deeper intentionality as we engage creatively with the world around us.
Visit Kristen’s website or find her on Instagram at instagram.com/interstitial
View Thomas’s exhibition here.
Câmi Thomas is a documentary filmmaker, photojournalist, professional marketer, and writer. In 2017, Thomas directed Smoke City, a documentary series and collection of episodes that explores post-Ferguson St. Louis, and attempts to dismantle the racial divide by introducing viewers to the city’s most misunderstood residents. She displayed her first photojournalism project titled Saint Scrimmage in a solo exhibition at the Chicago Art Department on August 29th 2019, as part of the AMFM Pink Things Pop-Up. She was a featured artist in an augmented reality 3D exhibition by Huffpost, RYOT, and All Black Creatives, titled Art is Revolution. Thomas is currently a Harvard Fellow as part of the Commonwealth Project through the Charles Warren Center. She speaks on race relations in America, the importance of digital storytelling as a catalyst for change, art as activism, and how brands can utilize storytelling techniques to better connect with their audience. Visit her website or Instagram.
To view Grise’s December exhibition, visit this page.
From panzas to prisons, from street theatre to large-scale multimedia performances, from princess to chafa—Virginia Grise writes plays that are set in bars without windows, barrio rooftops, and lesbian bedrooms. Her published work includes Your Healing is Killing Me (Plays Inverse Press), blu (Yale University Press), The Panza Monologues co-written with Irma Mayorga (University of Texas Press), and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations with Don Durito (Autonomedia Press). Grise is a recipient of the Yale Drama Award, Whiting Writers’ Award, the Princess Grace Award in Theatre Directing, and the Jerome Fellowship from the Playwrights’ Center. She is an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the Women’s Project Theatre Lab, and the NALAC Leadership Institute.
In addition to plays, she has created a body of work that is interdisciplinary and includes multimedia performance, dance theater, performance installations, guerilla theater, site specific interventions, and community gatherings. Grise has taught writing for performance at the university level, as a public school teacher, in community centers, women’s prisons and in the juvenile correction system. She holds an MFA in Writing for Performance from the California Institute of the Arts and is the Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Cara Mía Theatre.
reflect / project is an extension of Mid-America Arts Alliance’s Interchange program in collaboration with its Arts and Humanities Programming Division. It is supported in part by the City of Kansas City, Missouri Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund.