Marca Cassity (Osage)
Marca Cassity (Osage) is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation and grew up on the land of their Osage great-grandmother. Happily labeled a tomboy, Marca would run around barefoot, recording the sounds of thunder on a 1970s cassette tape recorder. However, coming out as queer in the 1980s didn’t go as well, leading Marca to drop out of music school to become a nurse in the AIDS crisis, and ultimately a trauma therapist specializing in Native and 2SLGBTQ+ resilience at Native American Health Center of San Francisco. Living in urban Native and 2SLGBTQ+ communities, Marca has found a combination of pow wow music and club dancing to be vital to survival. Marca has three studio albums, including Songs From the Well, an album of folk-rock resilience funded by the Osage Nation Foundation in 2016. Marca is honored to receive the NDN Collective Radical Imagination grant to create a Native nuanced rock-electronic album, and music video about Two-Spirit belonging and its connection to decolonization.
Will Wilson (Diné)
Will Wilson’s art projects center around the continuation and transformation of customary Indigenous cultural practice. He is a Diné photographer and trans-customary artist who spent his formative years living on the Navajo Nation. Will studied photography, sculpture, and art history at the University of New Mexico (MFA, Photography, 2002), and Oberlin College (BA, Studio Art and Art History, 1993). He holds several awards, including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Sculpture (2010), the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant for Photography (2016), the NM Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts (2017), and the Native Arts and Culture Foundation SHIFT Fellowship (2021). Will has taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts (1999-2000), Oberlin College (2000-01), and the University of Arizona (2006-08). In 2020, Will was a Doran Artist in Residence at the Yale University Art Gallery, and in 2022 he is co-curator of Speaking with Light: Contemporary Indigenous Photography, a nationally touring exhibition. Will is Program Head of Photography at the Santa Fe Community College. https://willwilson.photoshelter.com
Frank Waln (Sicangu Lakota)
Frank Waln is a Lakota public speaker, multi-genre music artist and curator from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.
Frank Waln has received numerous awards for his work, including three Native American Music Awards and an international film festival award for Best Music Video. He has also received artist fellowships and residencies, including at Harvard University, Grand Performances in downtown LA, and Nemours Children’s Hospital. Frank Waln appeared on radio and television for his work including MTV, ESPN and NPR. Frank was featured on the PBS music series One Voice where he performed his original compositions with the American Pops Orchestra and hosted the show. He was recently featured on the cover of the book “Notable Native People: 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dreamers and Changemakers From Past and Present” by Cherokee Author Dr. Adrienne Keene.
As a public speaker, Frank delivers keynotes and presentations that range from a variety of topics including Native youth in education to the role of Native music in history. As a writer, his work has appeared in academic journals, magazines and the New York Times Best Selling book “American Like Me”. Frank Waln has performed and presented at museums around the world, including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and the Linden Museum in Germany. He curated a music immersive space in the new Native American Exhibition Hall at the Field Museum in Chicago. As a self-managed artist and small business owner, Frank Waln founded an independent record label which releases award winning music that has garnered millions of views, streams, and shares throughout the world.
Sarah Sunshine Manning (Shoshone-Paiute)
Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications, is a citizen of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Idaho and Nevada, and Chippewa-Cree of Rocky Boy, Montana. Sarah directs NDN Collective’s communications strategy and impact. She also serves as producer of the NDN Podcast While Indigenous and as editor of the NDN blog. Sarah has Bachelor’s degrees in American Indian Studies, Social Science-History, and licensure in Secondary Education. She has a Master’s degree in journalism and mass communication.
Mic Jordan (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe)
Mic Jordan is an Ojibwe/Anishinaabe hip-hop artist and an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Tribe in Belcourt, ND, where music heavily influenced his childhood. In addition to his own musical endeavors, he shares his life story and how he overcame adversity with the power of music. As a musician, Mic Jordan indigenizes hip-hop, bending the genre to tell his story in an honest way that reflects the positive values of his traditional culture.
Dr. María Rosario Jackson, NEA Chair
For more than 25 years, Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson’s work has focused on understanding and elevating arts, culture, and design as critical elements of healthy communities. Her work blends social science and arts- and humanities-based approaches to comprehensive community revitalization, systems change, the dynamics of race and ethnicity, and the roles of arts and culture in communities. After confirmation by the U.S. Senate in December 2021, Dr. Jackson became the 13th chair of the National Endowment for the Arts in January 2022. With this historic appointment, Dr. Jackson is the nation’s first NEA chair to be an African American and Mexican American woman.
Dr. Jackson has a long career in strategic planning, policy research and evaluation with philanthropy, government, and nonprofit organizations. She has served as an advisor on philanthropic programs and investments at national, regional, and local foundations.
A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a doctorate in urban planning, Dr. Jackson holds a master of public administration degree from the University of Southern California. She lived in Washington, DC for 20 years and currently resides in her native Los Angeles with her husband, David K. Riddick, and in Phoenix, Arizona.
Hrag Vartanian and Kamal Sinclair in conversation
The editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic, Hrag Vartanian is an art critic, curator, artist, and lecturer on contemporary art with an expertise on the intersection of art and politics. Hyperallergic premiered in 2009 in response to changes in the art world, the publishing industry, and the distribution of information. Breaking news, award-winning reporting, informed opinions, and quality conversations about art have helped Hyperallergic reach over a million readers and listeners a month.
Some of his notable essays from the past few years include the forward to The Artist as Culture Producer, which is titled “Imagining the Future Before Us,” his keynote at the American Craft Council’s 2019 national conference, and his criticism of “Tribute in Light.” He’s prepared a “30 Things of Mine You Might Want to Read” list of some favorite essays, interviews, articles, reviews, and opinion pieces for those who may have only recently discovered his writing.
Kamal Sinclair supports artists, institutions, and communities working at the convergence of art, media, culture, and technology. Currently, she serves as the Senior Director of Digital Innovation at The Music Center in Los Angeles, which is home to TMC Arts, Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Master Chorale, LA Opera, and LA Phil. Additionally, she serves as an advisor or board member to , For Freedoms, NEW INC.’s ONX Studio, Civic Signals, MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality, Starfish Accelerator, Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation, and Eyebeam. Previously, she was the Director of Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Labs Program, External Advisor to Ford Foundation’s JustFilms and MacArthur Foundation's Journalism & Media Program, Adjunct Professor at USC’s Media Arts + Practice program, and Executive Director of the Guild of Future Architects. She is the co-author of Making a New Reality. Sinclair got her start in emerging media as an artist and producer on Question Bridge: Black Males, where she and her collaborators launched a project with an interactive website and curriculum; published a book; exhibited in over sixty museums/festivals.
Andres Serrano was born in 1950 in New York City. He attended the Brooklyn Museum Art School from 1967 to 1969, where he studied painting and sculpture.
Andres Serrano's name, along with Robert Mappletorpe's, was at the crossroads of the 1989 Cultural Wars when Serrano's photograph, "Piss Christ," became the subject of a national debate on freedom of artistic expression and the public funding of controversial art. "Piss Christ", an ethereal image of a crucifix submerged in the artist's urine, remains the artist's most controversial and misunderstood work. Serrano has also created "The Morgue," an investigation of death, as well as photographed numerous subjects including the Ku Klux Klan, the homeless, and "America," a panorama of American society.
Andres Serrano is an internationally acclaimed American artist whose work has been shown in major institutions in the United States and abroad. His photographs are in numerous museums and public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institute), Washington, DC; Institute of Contemporary Art, Amsterdam, Holland; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; capc musée d'art contemporain, Bordeaux, France; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL; Fonds Regional d'Art Contemporain, Cluny, France; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid Spain; Cintas Foundation, Miami, FL; Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY; Allen Art Museum, Oberlin, OH; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Sevilla, Spain; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia.
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar earned her B.A. in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University. In 1984 Zollar founded Urban Bush Women (UBW) as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. She serves as director of UBW’s Summer Leadership Institute and is the Nancy Smith Fichter Professor of Dance and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State University.
Jawole has received fellowships from United States Artists (2008), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2009), and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (2021). She received the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and honorary degrees from Columbia College, Chicago, Tufts University, Rutgers University, and Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Jawole received the Dance Magazine Award (2015), the Dance/USA Honor Award (2016), and the Bessie Lifetime Achievement in Dance Award (2017). In 2020, The Ford Foundation awarded Urban Bush Women as one of America’s Cultural Treasures. In 2021 Jawole received the DanceTeacher Award of Distinction and the 2022 APAP Honors Award of Merit and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.
Urban Bush Women (UBW) galvanizes artists, activists, audiences and communities through performances, artist development, education, and community engagement. With the ground-breaking performance ensemble at its core, and ongoing programs including the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), BOLD (Builders, Organizers & Leaders through Dance) and the Choreographic Center Initiative, UBW affects the overall ecology of the arts by promoting artistic legacies; projecting the voices of the under-heard and people of color; bringing attention to and addressing issues of equity in the dance field and throughout the United States; and by providing platforms and serving as a conduit for culturally and socially relevant experimental art makers.
Sing Harlem is the breakout musical group from Mama Foundation for the Arts. Under the direction of Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson, the choir has grown to be a highly respected and influential force in the New York gospel scene, producing not only great vocalists, but top-notch global citizens.
At its core, Sing Harlem serves as both a social impact initiative for young people that have graduated from Mama Foundation’s music training program, and as a commercial choir delivering acclaimed entertainment nationwide. All proceeds from Sing Harlem! events and performances benefit the Mama Foundation for the Arts’ music training programs, which are provided to the Harlem community tuition-free.
Sing Harlem has performed at many prestigious venues, programs, and concerts across America including The Congressional Black Caucus, The Stellar Awards, New York Fashion Week (TOMMYxZENDAYA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, the US Open, Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, and Brooklyn’s Afropunk. Television performances include The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Saturday Night Live, The View, Good Morning America, VH1 Trailblazer Honors, and the Grammy Awards. Theatrical performances include The Let Go (Nick Cave), The Mile-Long Opera (David Lang, Liz Diller), and As You Like It (Public Theater, Public Works). Sing Harlem also continues to accompany a variety of musical artists including SZA, Sting, Arianna Grande, Pharrell Williams, Alessia Cara, Lykke Li, Chance the Rapper, and Madonna.