meet the fellows.
Interdisciplinary artist Mengxi “Althea” Rao creates social engagement models to facilitate open and playful conversations around topics that are traditionally associated with shame and negativity, such as inherited privilege, mental illness, gender and sexuality. Her works empower individuals and help them find reconciliation with their cultures and selves. “Humans exist in the physical realm but my art does not.” Mediums Rao has explored include, but are not restricted to: film and video, multimedia installation, live performance, light sculpture, public space activation, rituals, dance, and choir singing.
Rao has lived and worked in China, Japan and the US, and received training in journalism and filmmaking. She was a Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow in 2016, and most recently a mentee in NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program, a toolmaker-in-residence at Signal Culture (Owego, NY), and a Social Impact Fellow at Halcyon Arts Lab (Washington DC). Her work on gender equity was featured during By the People Festival in 2019. During her time in the nation’s capital, she has set up multi-iterations of public space activations at the Goethe Institut, Corcoran School of Arts, Smithsonian Freer|Sackler Gallery, The French Embassy, and Hirshhorn Museum.
Rao is currently an artist-in-residence at Artspace New Haven.
Amy Khoshbin is an Iranian-American Brooklyn-based artist and activist. Her practice advocates for changing commercial culture by using popular media genres to create discomfort and subsequent catharsis. She has shown at venues such as The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Times Square Arts, The High Line, Socrates Sculpture Park, VOLTA Art Fair, PULSE Art Fair, Leila Heller Gallery, Arsenal Contemporary, National Sawdust, BRIC Arts, and festivals such as River to River and South by Southwest. She has received residencies at spaces such as The Watermill Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Anderson Ranch, Project for Empty Space, and Banff Centre for the Arts. She has received a Franklin Furnace Fund and a Rema Hort Mann Artist Community Engagement Grant. Khoshbin received an MA from New York University in Tisch School of the Arts and a BA in Film and Media Studies at University of Texas at Austin. She has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Karen Finley, Tina Barney, and poets Anne Carson and Bob Currie among others. Bringing together electoral politics and artmaking, Amy is running for City Council in District 38 of Brooklyn in 2021 to ensure space for underrepresented voices in our political system and to shift our culture towards one of creativity and compassion.
Bryanna Bradley is a body-based broad, notorious ballet class crybaby, and Southeast Queens local circa 1995. During the Summer of 2016, Bradley participated in The School at Jacob’s Pillow under the tutelage of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (Urban Bush Women) and shadowed Camille A. Brown through her Black Girl Spectrum program. Bradley premiered her dance work buck: an exploration of black masculinity in Nick Cave’s exhibit Until at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art while scrambling to finish college. Bradley’s other work has been seen at Poe Park, The Knockdown Center, and the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning.
Cody Ann Herrmann is a New York City based artist and community organizer with an interest in participatory design methods, public space, and urban resilience. Through multidisciplinary arts, community engagement exercises, and grassroots organizing, she applies an iterative, human centered approach to environmental problem solving. Since 2014 Cody’s work has revolved around her hometown of Flushing, Queens, creating a series of projects critiquing policy related to land use and environmental planning in areas surrounding Flushing Bay and Creek. This ongoing series of socially engaged work has led her to collaborate on all-ages public programs with numerous environmental and civic groups working locally in Queens.
Cody is currently a Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning Jerome Foundation Artist in Residency Fellow. She has participated in the Works on Water / Underwater New York artist in residency program, and has been a recipient of the Waterfront Alliance City of Water Day Award. She has presented work as part of Open Engagement, and has been featured in Hyperallergic. Cody holds an undergraduate degree from Parsons School of Design, and an MFA from Social Practice Queens at CUNY Queens College.
Luisa Valderrama was born in Colombia and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She holds an MFA in Sculpture from Pratt Institute with Honors (2018), a BFA in Painting and Drawing and a BA in Art History from Los Andes University, Colombia (2014). Her work draws on her autobiographical experience of growing up between the rural region and the urban life in the city of Bogota. She is a recipient of a NYFA 2019 Mentoring Program (NY), a 2019 thematic residency at RU-Residency Unlimited (NY), 2019 MASS MoCA Resident (MA), a 2019 Marble House Residency (VT), and a Sculpture Space residency for 2020 (NY), amongst others. She has participated in numerous exhibitions in Colombia and New York and collaborates with 4-18, a nonprofit community-based art organization in Colombia. Solo exhibitions: Hato [’a.to] in Steuben Gallery at Pratt Institute, 2018. Selected projects and group exhibitions include Mediated Mediations curated by Niama Sandy; Boiling Point at The Boiler Pierogi in 2018 curated by Regine Basha. Half a Wave at the Pfizer Building in Brooklyn curated by Christine Rebhuhn, 2018; The Latin American Contemporary Fine Art Competition, New York, 2018. Crossings, at El Sótano Art Space, Brooklyn, 2018. And Entramado at Espacio Alterno Gallery curated by Lorenzo Freydell Vanstaseghem, Bogota, Colombia, 2016.
Mafe Izaguirre is a New York-based artist, graphic designer, and educator. Her work explores the artificial mind framed by the ideas of philosophical post-humanism: a movement that poses the human as a plural, fluid and de-centered being living in multiple spaces of interaction with machines, software, other species, and spiritual hybrid systems. Framed as The Mind Project, fragments of her cybernetic installations have been exhibited in Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Izaguirre graduated from PROdiseño School of Visual Communication, specializing in Digital Media (2002). In 2016, she studied digital fabrication at Cooper Union. Izaguirre is an artist member of the Long Island City Artist Association. She works as a tech mentor at Mouse Inc, DreamYard Project (Bronx), and as co-founder and Creative Director of ROOM: A Sketchbook for Analytic Action, an online psychoanalytic magazine created by IPTAR members. Since 2018, Izaguirre is a Board Member of the humanitarian Foundation Cuatro Por Venezuela. www.mafeizaguirre.com
Sean Desiree is a self taught artist and furniture maker, born and raised in the Bronx. They use wood from found pallets, demolished buildings, and discarded scraps to create works informed by the language of geometry and their commitment to highlight stories of resistance. Their most recent solo show LIFTED: Public Housing, an Aerial Perspective is a collection of two-dimensional works depicting aerial views of seven public housing units in Hudson, NY. The title holds dual meaning, referencing the series’ intent to support residents of public housing through both a grant and the creation and celebration of work that reflects the inherent beauty in the units. It also refers to the literal and metaphorical perspective shift involved in portraying the buildings from an aerial view. In the summer of 2019, they released their debut coffee table collection, QUILTS, a series that pays tribute to the women of Gee’s Bend, a small, remote, Black community in Alabama that created magnificent quilts starting in the 1920s.
In addition to being a visual artist they are also a musician with the solo project, bell’s roar. In 2018, they produced the ART FUNDS ART TOUR a seven city concert series that ran from Albany, NY to Atlanta, GA. At each performance they selected one local queer and/or trans artist of color to receive a grant funded by the profits from ticket sales.
Yemisi “Juliana” Luna
Yemisi “Juliana” Luna is on a journey as a multidisciplinary artist, leader, mentor, and narratorial creator. Her mission is to empower women through movement, ancestral awareness, and intuitive knowledge.
Luna is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but currently traveling the world designing shared experiences for people of every background. Through her studies and research Luna created The ALUNA method, a system for holistic understanding of our emotional bodies through a lunar perspective. With the ALUNA method, she bridges people together and allows their stories to bloom. Luna brings forth to our contemporary world the creative power present in inhabiting our bodies with confidence, awareness and compassion.
In May 2015 she was invited to go on a trip to reconnect with her ancestral roots where a DNA test revealed that her ancestors come from Nigeria, more precisely, the Yoruba nation. As the co-founder of the Instagram-based movement Project Tribe, whose motto is “your crown inspires”, she learned that the knowledge about her ancestry proved to be a turning point in her personal narrative.
Later Luna created the Yemisi Experience, a program that presents Yoga, head wrapping, writing, intuitive movement, and conversations around identity and belonging as a channel of connectivity for individuals to bond with themselves while fostering a holistic environment.
Today, Luna uses her art to empower not only the next generation of Afro-Brazilians, but also the next generation of women to be confident in where they come from and the stories they’re meant to tell.
meet the artist in residence.
Nola Hanson with Trans Boxing
Nola Hanson is a trans artist whose practice centers the role of embodiment in contemporary social systems. Nola received their BFA in Painting and Art Criticism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2014. In 2015, they started boxing at the New Bed Stuy Boxing Center, a community-run gym in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, where they continue to train. Nola’s practice includes independent work and collaborative socially engaged projects. Their work has been shown in New York, Chicago, Portland, and Milwaukee. Nola is currently an MFA candidate in the Art and Social Practice program at Portland State University.
Hill Donnell with Trans Boxing
Hill Donnell is an athlete, organizer and educator born in Torino, Italy and raised on the US Gulf Coast. Their pedagogical and creative practice seeks to engage critical perspectives on technological change, embodiment and the promise of participatory governance. Hill serves as Policy and Programs Manager at Athlete Ally, a NYC based non-profit working to end homophobia and transphobia in sport. Hill began boxing in 2016 and started organizing with Trans Boxing in 2017, shortly after moving to New York.