Artist Community Engagement Grant

Erica Gemenese Morales, EMPRESS ROSE, 2022

The Rema Hort Mann Foundation Artist Community Engagement Grant provides project-based funds to artist projects that foster community engagement, dialogue, and cultural exchange.

The grant makes possible a wide range of project formats, including panel discussions, artist talks, public presentations, workshops, web-based activities, lectures, screenings, publications, and other public events or cultural exchanges. We support projects that encourage cultural or traditional sharing locally or across borders as well as projects that broaden audiences in a specific community.

The ACE Grant provides financial support—individual grants up to $1,500 for artists’ community-based projects annually. Artists based in the Greater New York Metropolitan Area who are not enrolled as a full time student are invited to apply. 

The 2022 ACE grants recipients are Elsa Ponce, Erica Morales, Julia Norton, Julia Rooney, Hidemi Takagi and Candace Kwan. Artist proposals are listed below.

Julia Norton, Styx, 2022
Sumac ink, imitation Indian yellow, Prussian blue, cochineal, yellow ochre, terre verte, bone black, clay pigment, lapis lazuli, and synthetic gold on handmade cotton paper

Norton’s work tells stories of regenerative life cycles from animal, geological, ecological, and spiritual – working with materials as meaningful to the content as the imagery. Color is produced from natural materials – such as earth/mineral pigments and inks – considered as a form of time travel bringing together old and new, dead and alive, and a place in between.

Norton is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and color material researcher who will work with teens from the 5 boroughs of NYC, recruited through non-profit organizations and institutions. The project entails two workshops that consider personal connection to the color spectrum and highlights natural pigments and inks – and their technical, cultural, and sociological backgrounds that have impacted color perception as we know it today. We will look at the unique qualities of these materials and explore them through art making, as well as examine their histories and uses ranging from 200,000 year old cave paintings to works by contemporary artists.

Elsa Ponce, The Corner. Digital platform and prototypes for the worker’s hiring site. Spring 2022

Ponce’s project proposes a Community Arts as Activism Workshop with the day laborers from the Worker’s Justice Project in Williamsburg. By exploring art-making and its ongoing meaning and role in justice, our goal is to develop leadership, self determination, and cultivate a cultural identity for gig workers whose workplace comprises the city streets.

The project will empower low-wage immigrant workers to build strong and economically sustainable communities through training, organizing, leadership development, and the growth of grassroots economic alternatives.

Hidemi Takagi, Laila from IDENTITIES, Digital C-Print, Size Vary, 2021

IDENTITIES is a photography and interview project started with my family’s identities —and a project I want to expand to contribute to a national discourse on mixed-race identities at this key anti-racist time. My daughter, who is half Haitian American and half Japanese American, was born and is growing up in New York City. I was born in Japan, and came to New York City in 1997. My husband was born in Haiti, and grew up in Brooklyn. In New York, we have let go of some aspects of our original cultures, and at the same time, we have not sought much to assimilate.

Through the process of creating IDENTITIES I search to visualize our roots and the cultural tendrils that have grown and intertwined from them, and also address the issues of mixed-race identity, racism, and immigration in America. After working on social engagement photography projects with multiple communities for 6 years, I started working with my own mixed-race family during pandemic, now other diverse communities. The number of people who self-identify as biracial/multiracial is growing. Nowadays, we often see mixed-race people in magazines, and ads on streaming services and on billboards, and such looks are becoming mainstream in fashion/music industries. But biracial/multiracial people are still a minority with complex public and internal pressures concerning self-presentations; they often are not encouraged to embrace the duality of their heritage. Americans tend to divide, separate, segregate and categorize people based primarily on the color of skin. We are supposedly living in a post-racial place, but racism and bias towards people of color remains alive. I am creating complex and some whimsically self-costuming of mixed-race teen life, its public and private faces, using my art as a tool to explore racial identity, race relations, public presentation of the self, and cultural norms.

Title: Laila from IDENTITIES, Digital C-Print, Size Vary, 20

Julia Rooney, Rendering of Greenscreen in Bryant Park, 2022

While historically, green screens were used as a cinematic trick to transport actors to alternative environments, they became a familiar tool during the pandemic as people routinely swapped out their actual environment on Zoom. Jumping off this phenomenon and my own artistic research, this workshop invites NYC high-school students to consider the conceptual potential of this technology—using my “Greenscreen” painting as a literal and metaphoric backdrop to probe their own relationships to physical versus digital space during the pandemic.

Envisioned for Summer 2023, Part 1 will take place at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library’s Teen Center with approximately 15 students.  Students will create collages of hybrid real/imagined environments in which they envision themselves living, learning, working, and socializing. Staff from NYPL’s Picture Collection (across the street) will introduce research strategies for locating images, which students may then scan and print as source/collage material.

Part 2 will occur in Bryant Park, where “Greenscreen” will be set up for participants to photograph themselves in front of, along with green fabric/accessories they can use to selectively blend in with the backdrop. Using Zoom’s green screen feature, we will then digitally “key out” the backdrop, replacing it with their own collages to produce unique photographic portraits. Finally, we will print the students’ photographs, and hopefully exhibit them at NYPL.

Erica Gemenese Morales, Untitled, 2022 spray paint, watercolor, marker  

Morales project will focus on exploring the stories of LGBTQX people of color through the lens of family and love within the community. The goal is to celebrate the many different forms of family that LGBTQX people of color have created for themselves.

In collaboration with ArtCrawl Harlem @artcrawlharlem whose mission is to support and promote Harlem’s creative community and promote emerging New York City artists, an exhibit and a community discussion around the intersections of race, sexuality, love and family will occur during the month of pride in June 2023. The event will be held at Governors Island at ArtCrawl Harlem house. Three to four artists who identify as LGBTQX will be selected to participate in the exhibit and discussion, reflecting the LGBTQX experience through a multigenerational lens.

Candace Kwan, Chew Mee/Francoise Therry, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), no. 1, 2021, Archival inkjet print

Re/present Asian will engage with visitors to Chinatown in New York City through a wheatpasting poster campaign of images from the series. I plan to embed QR codes in the posters with links text and images specific to the movie on which each image is based. I hope this guerilla campaign will subvert fantasies about Asians by injecting into the Chinatown landscape the project’s images of alternative fantasies spawned from Hollywood fantasies of Asians.

The proposed wheatpaste poster campaign is the next phase for my project Re/present Asian, an ongoing attempt to grapple with the construction, commercialization, and marketing of Asian stereotypes by Hollywood industry. As digital collages, the images exist in the digital space in digital files and online; I would like to turn these images into material posters which can disrupt a physical space – to create an intersection of fantasy and imaginary with everyday reality. I plan to photograph the site-specific installations of these posters to document how the images interact with the Chinatown environment.ChewThe Man with

An independent, city-specific selection jury reviews and scores applications. The jury, comprised of arts professionals and artists, rotates annually. Applications are scored based on the following criteria:

  • Artistic merit
  • Project feasibility
  • Potential for community impact
  • Diversity 

Rema Hort Mann Foundation is committed to maintaining diversity in its grant programs in terms of cultural background, geographic distribution, and areas of expertise. Jurors are not appointed to represent particular geographic areas or special interests, but are expected rather to use their knowledge of the arts in their deliberation and recommendations across media and genres.