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In Session: Artist Residencies

bashezo, Ashley Ferro-Murray, John Spiak, Erica Wall, Sarah Workneh, and M. Carmen Lane

  • Education

  • Recorded panel discussion
  • YouTube/Facebook

This was a virtual event streamed on YouTube and Facebook. Watch a recording of the discussion below:

Presented by MASS MoCA and the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), In Session is a series of panel discussions on anti-racist work in museums, streamed live on MASS MoCA’s YouTube and Facebook. The first two sessions invited artists, curators, and arts administrators to discuss how museums and artists represent Black and Brown trauma in artwork, exhibitions, and performances, and navigate the resulting implications and challenges.

Tune in for our third panel on March 18 at 6pm EST with a focus on artist residencies, co-sponsored by ATNSC (pronounced Ata-en-sic), a socially engaged, artist-run urban retreat, residency, and exhibition space in Cleveland, Ohio. Panelists include bashezo, CreateWell Fund; Ashley Ferro-Murray, Curator, EMPAC; John Spiak, Director/Chief Curator of Grand Central Art Center Residency at Cal State Fullerton; Erica Wall, Director of Gallery 51 and BCRC at MCLA; and Sarah Workneh, Co-Director, Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. The panel will be moderated by artist and ATNSC’s founder and director M. Carmen Lane. Billy Sanders will provide ASL interpretation.

Designed to pose more questions than answers, topics for this discussion include: Why is there interest in these programs and why do arts leaders and funders support them? What does it look like for institutions to provide space for BIPOC artists to design their own programs? In what ways are artists advocating for their own needs in existing or newly formed residencies? How is an artist residency program a facet of the art industrial complex pipeline that prioritizes one artist’s work over another?

Do any other questions come to mind? Submit your own questions via email to insession@massmoca.org.

Gifts from individuals like you strengthen MASS MoCA’s ability to make programming like this free and accessible. Please consider making a $5 donation here.

What to Expect:

  • This event will be streamed live on MASS MoCA’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
  • While RSVPs are not necessary to watch, please RSVP to let us know you’ll be tuning in and to receive a reminder email.


About the Participants:
bashezo,CreateWell Fund (BIPOC artists and arts administrators), was born and raised in South Philadelphia, PA and currently lives in West Medford, MA. Ze is a non-binary transdisciplinary installation and movement performance creative who blends race and queer theory with African diaspora spiritual traditions and aesthetics. Soil, textiles, audio/video elements, clay, mesh, and wood are common materials in zir’s work. These materials are aggregated as a means to create immersive ephemeral 3rd spaces that centralize Black Indigenous PoC queer and trans (QTBIPoC) bodies, narratives, and experiences. The core of zir’s work centers on spiritual explorations into/around Blackness, anti-Blackness, race, gender, sexuality, trauma, and healing.

In addition to bashezo’s own creative practice, ze founded Project Resuscitation and co-founded the UnBound Bodies Collective. The objective of both of these curatorial and community-building projects is to shape and hold generative creative spaces that center and amplify the works of QTBIPoC visual and performance creatives along the East Coast.

As a member of the CreateWell Fund’s Co-Tending Designer team, bashezo is currently co-organizing a QT/BIPoC only residency, Converging Liberations, at MASS MoCA and recently completed an 18-month partnership with ArtPlace America as an artist-activist assembly member tasked with re|imagining and re|tooling philanthropic processes and practices to recognize and support QT/BIPoC creative spaceholders in MA more equitably.

Ashley Ferro-Murray is a Curator of Theatre and Dance at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She also serves on the curatorial board of Body, Image, Movement Biennial in Madrid, Spain, and the editorial board of TURBA: The Journal for Global Practices in Live Arts Curation. Ferro-Murray’s curatorial practice focuses on expanding historical frames for performance and technology artworks while supporting artist-centered approaches to media. Publications include Chameleonic Survivalism: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko’s ‘Adaptive Strategies and Ways of Being in the World (forthcoming), Biological determinism – Evolutionary inertia, constraints (forthcoming), Transborder Immigrant Tool: Choreographic Resistance in the US-Mexican Borderlands, and Technologies of Performance: Machinic Staging and Corporeal Choreographies. Ferro-Murray holds a PhD in performance studies with emphasis in new media from the University of California, Berkeley.

John D. Spiak was appointed Director/Chief Curator of California State University Fullerton’s Grand Central Art Center (GCAC), Santa Ana, CA, in September, 2011. His curatorial emphasis is on contemporary art and society, with a focus on works in socially engaged practices and video. Through the GCAC Artist-in-Residence initiative, GCAC hosts diverse national and international artists as they develop projects, including Paul Ramirez Jonas, Adriana Salazar, Carmen Papalia, Pablo Helguera, Lisa Bielawa, and Yumi Janairo Roth. Prior to his appointment at GCAC, Spiak was Curator at the Arizona State University Art Museum, joining that staff in 1994. He initiated the ASU Art Museum residency series Social Studies, originating project by Julianne Swartz and Ken Landauer, Jillian McDonald, Jarbas Lopez, Josh Green, Gregory Sale, and Jennifer Nelson. Through solo exhibitions, he has worked directly with artists including Pipilotti Rist, Shirin Neshat, Brent Green, Tony de los Reyes, Kenyatta A. C. Hinkle, and Aida Šehović. Spiak projects have received support from the British Council, Polish Cultural Institute, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), MAP Fund, and three grants from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Sarah Workneh joined Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture as Co-Director in 2010. Prior to her tenure, Sarah was the Associate Director of Ox-Bow for 8 years. Primarily focused on the educational program, and off-season programming with alumni, Workneh leads all efforts to support artists in the expansion of their practices. Understanding the holistic nature of the program, Workneh oversees the admissions process, facilities usage, and expansion under Skowhegan’s Master Plan, as well as the educational daily life on campus. Workneh has published a variety of texts — most recently an essay on participatory education and a catalog essay on radical education published by the New Museum. She serves on the boards of Colby College Museum of Art, the Black Lunch Table, and RAIR in Philadelphia, and has recently joined the Lake Wesserunsett Association Conservation Committee. In 2020, she partnered with Linda Goode Bryant and Project EATS to convert an urban farm to a food pantry in Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY.

Erica Wall is the Director of the MCLA Berkshire Cultural Resource Center. In her role, she oversees MCLA’s public art programs and spaces, including Gallery 51, DownStreet Art, and MCLA Presents! Before coming to MCLA, Wall founded ERICA BROUSSARD GALLERY in 2016 in Orange County, CA, and in 2017, an artists’ residency, 36 Chase & Barns in North Adams, MA. Both spaces were dedicated to supporting the creation, exhibition, criticism, and documentation of work by historically underrepresented artists.

Erica’s career started in museum education where she worked at both large and small art institutions, most notably the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Crocker Art Museum, The Getty Center in Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Erica is also a previous Smithsonian Fellow and holds a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a master’s degree in Art Education and Museum Studies from California State University, Los Angeles.

M. Carmen Lane is a two:spirit African-American and Haudenosaunee (Mohawk/Tuscarora) artist, writer, and facilitator living in Cleveland, Ohio. Lane’s work ranges from experiential educator to diversity practitioner to organizational systems consultant to experimental artist—all of it integrates ancestry, legacy, and spirituality, and pursues expansion, experimentation, and play. Lane is founder and director of ATNSC: Center for Healing & Creative Leadership, an urban retreat center and social practice experiment in holistic health, leadership development, Indigenous arts and culture, and the founder and director of the Akhsótha Gallery located in Cleveland’s historic Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood.

Billy Sanders credits his love for serving within the Deaf community to his mother, Debra, who is Deaf. Having earned both a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Science in Public Administration from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Billy is currently a doctoral student in the Community College Leadership Program at Morgan State University. A staunch advocate for education, Billy has taught extensively since 2000 at a myriad of colleges and universities in the subjects of American Sign Language, Signed Language Systems, and Strategies for Cross-Cultural Communication. As a nationally certified interpreter, Billy is a Communications Consultant with Bridges Consulting, a company he founded over twenty years ago to champion cross-cultural communication through education and empowerment. Additionally, he is a veteran mentor for College Bound – the pathway-to-college mentorship program for Washington, DC, high school students, an Executive Board Member of Light the Way Foundation, which hosts an annual summer teen film camp, and an Executive Board Member for the Friends of the Buea School for the Deaf in Cameroon, West Africa, to raise money for the annual operational costs of Cameroon’s premier school for the Deaf. Aside from living out his passion, Billy loves to spend time with his 21-year old son, Donovan, who is a scholar-athlete and social justice advocate attending the University of Virginia.

About Berkshire Cultural Resource Center:
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) provides opportunities, resources, and support to the Northern Berkshire Community. BCRC brings together the Northern Berkshires, MCLA, and greater creative communities through its cultural programming including: MCLA Gallery 51, Downstreet Art, B-Hip, and MCLA Presents! BCRC promotes, facilitates, and encourages dialogue in order to foster a sustainable creative community. BCRC is a collaborative project of MCLA, MASS MoCA, and the City of North Adams.

Top row: bashezo, Ashley Ferro-Murray, and John Spiak. Bottom Row: Erica Wall, Sarah Workneh, and M. Carmen Lane.