The dominance of industrialized farming and the shrinking of domestic manufacturing have transformed the landscape of much of the South. In its wake, we see communities struggling with many of the same issues faced by underserved urban populations: poor access to education, health care, and opportunities for advancement. We will be identifying rural communities and rural-based artists in 2018-2019 to develop projects around the stories and experiences of this often overlooked and disrespected part of our community.
In a series of artist-led educational workshops, public forums, exhibitions, and project development sessions beginning in September 2018 and running through the festival in March 2019, a selected Fellowship of artists (filmmakers, artists, activists, community organizers, etc) primarily residing in South Carolina will work with Columbia-based community stakeholders, partnering organizations, and rural communities to develop and create projects exploring the Rural theme. Artworks will be revealed by the Fellowship during the 2019 Indie Grits Festival, taking place March 28-31.
Lillian Burke, born and raised in South Carolina, is a filmmaker, musician, and part time farmer. She received her bachelor’s degree in Media Arts from Antioch College in 2016. Drawn to more diy and experimental forms of media, her artistic philosophy embraces subjectivity, vulnerability, and doubt. After finishing college, Lillian moved to her family farm in Saluda, SC where she became fascinated and increasingly invested in the story of the small rural town that she is now working to document. Today Lillian works at the Nickelodeon theatre and is involved with Indie Grits Labs as an educator, a filmmaker, and as a project coordinator for the Rural Project.
Kelly Creedon is a documentary filmmaker whose uses intimate storytelling as a means to explore communities and the questions that unite and divide us. Her work has been featured in Vimeo Staff Picks, National Geographic, the Los Angeles Times, Reel South, and the PBS Online Film Festival, among others. Her short documentary In This World screened widely at festivals around the country, and her editing credits include the feature-length documentary Farmsteaders (2018) and the documentary short Santuario (2018). In 2018, she was awarded a NC Arts Council Artist Fellowship.
Ian Dillinger is a South Carolina native who has been found frolicking in the wetlands and waterways of the Lowcountry since he could crawl. Growing up in a creative family, Ian took every opportunity to deconstruct, build, and explore the world around him. Time spent traveling has given him a wealth of inspiration and empathy for the lives of people all over the World. It is the margins and rural places that he finds most fascinating. Ian’s artistic drive is to document the folks that make their living off the natural resources around them, and to provide insight into culture and traditional of previously unheard rural voices.
Mahkia Greene is a Columbia based filmmaker. Her love for film emerged at a young age, when she began shooting and editing home movies and short films with family and friends. Mahkia graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Media Arts from the University of South Carolina in 2016. Since then she has done her best to incorporate her own identity as a young queer, black, southern woman in her art. Currently Mahkia is a media education instructor for Indie Grits Labs where she teaches two media based afterschool programs, TakeBreakMake and Come Around My Way.
Thaddeus Wayne Jones Jr is a filmmaker, writer, director, and artist from Hampton South Carolina. Thaddeus began his interest in film at an early age by making videos with classmates and writing stories in his gifted and talented classes. During high school Thaddeus worked as a photography assistant, learning the basics of lighting and photography. Thaddeus spent many years after high school discovering his talents and understanding his shortcomings he now uses what he has learned about himself, people and his environment to influence his art, rather it is narrative films, documentaries, or photography Thaddeus strives to give voice to the voiceless.
Yulian Martinez-Escobar lives in Charleston, South Carolina. His avid interests include languages, traveling, and culture, which have defined his artistic style. Yulian first cultivated an interest in the fine arts in his native Colombia as an actor in his college theater company. He later went on to become a self-taught photographer and videographer. He especially enjoys capturing candid portraits of people he meets in his travels, from Scotland to Peru to Senegal and the Gambia. As a foreigner, he wants to explore and document the lives and diverse backgrounds of other people who have ended up in the United States.
Cedric Umoja was born in San Francisco, California, but is based out of Columbia, South Carolina. Cedric Umoja developed his style under the instruction of Tony Cacalano, a Yale MFA and veteran fine artist, whose own teachers included Jack Tworkov, one of the founders of the now Famed New York school. Cedric has painted mural in San Francisco’s Mission District, Charleston’s Alicia Alley, and in 2017, organized and completed a collaborative mural on Columbia’s Millwood corridor. In addition to his street art, Umoja has had solo exhibitions at Sumter Gallery of Art, South Carolina State University, and The Goodall Gallery at Columbia College.
Kelly Creedon | Durham, NC
Set in Orangeburg, SC, this documentary follows a battle over a Confederate Flag flying in the center of town in the wake of the 2015 Charleston Massacre. Through the battle, the film challenges audiences to consider if the flag has a place in Southern culture of the 21st Century.
Thaddeus Jones Jr. | Columbia, SC
This documentary offers an intimate look into the lives of entrepreneurial businesses through interactions with a current and former breadman in Hampton County, SC. Interviews and decaying spaces are contrasted with scenic sprawling spaces and bumpy roads as residents strive to keep their dying towns alive.
Yulian Martinez-Escobar | Charleston, SC
With sweat and toil, migrant tomato farmers provide the invisible labor that brings food to the American table from seed to harvest. Invisible Hands is an intimate film documenting this vulnerable community of laborers in rural South Carolina.
Ian Dillinger | Walterboro, SC
An informative story-driven documentary of the rural South seen and heard through the lives of farmers and individuals who make their living off the land, this film highlights the diverse natural resources and traditions that shape the landscape and issues a call to action for stewardship and sustainability.
Lillian Burke & Amada Torruella | Columbia, SC
In Saluda, SC, established latino immigrants and generations of black and white residents coexist in isolation. A poetic exploration of the rural South, this immersive documentary showcases a collage of experiences from 21st-century America.
Cedric Umoja | Hopkins, SC
To ensure a future for itself and its children, The Land possesses a man and performs various spells.
Ony Ratsimbaharison & Margaret Walters | Columbia, SC
After reading Jon J. Muth’s Stone Soup, Newberry County students collaborate to create their own stone soup, along with several other projects, during a weekend arts program at the Newberry Arts Center. This film documents their creative process over a period of two workshop days, during which the students discuss what they would share with their community as they paint stones to go into their “soup.”
Adam Forrester & Jared Ragland | Atlanta, GA
Atop Sand Mountain, a sandstone plateau in northeast Alabama infamous for poultry processing, Pentecostal snake-handling, and meth production, we meet Chico, Alice, and Misty, whose lives have been shaped by methamphetamine use. Chico struggles with reintegration into society following a jail sentence; Alice pursues recovery and fights for custody of her daughter; and Misty rebuilds a stable life after ending an abusive relationship. Seven Million Miles presents a meditation on loss and the search for redemption amidst systemic social and economic marginalization.
Mahkia Greene & Students from Lower Richland High School | Columbia, SC
This film serves as an experimental visual record of Lower Richland StoryLab (LRSL), a high school arts program in rural Hopkins, SC. Fusing both the student and instructor perspective of the art process, this film follows the students of LRSL as they explore the past, present, and potential of their community.
Kara Anderson | Columbia, SC
In this personal profile, the filmmaker reflects on her work as a young Southern white antiracist—and the lifelong search for belonging that led her there.
Carleen Maur | Columbia, SC
Estranged is a meditation on rural landscapes, queer sexuality and multiple modes of invisible and camouflaged communication.
Shannon Ivey | Columbia, SC
The Dirt Project is an immersive multimedia exploration of one woman’s journey home to unravel the strained connection to family land, legacy, and privilege using audio interviews, video, and dirt.
Aaron Walker | Columbia, SC
Foodwise is an ongoing, anecdotal collection of recipes that looks to the ubiquitous spiral bound community cookbook as its subject and guiding light. Foodwise is comprised of recipe contributions excerpted from regional, self-published family and community cookbooks. The publication and collection includes food focused poetry, collages, notes and stories that consider how recipes are shared.
Foodwise will also be on sale at all merch locations throughout the festival.
Sherrie Belton | Winnsboro, SC
Mo Jess had a love that stuck to you like a pot of pinto beans, Seib was as steady as the barrel of his shotgun, and their 12 children inherited the best of the both of them. Through their stories, this audio series is a love letter to Fairfield County, SC that celebrates everyday triumph, overcoming challenges, and the resiliency of black families in the rural south.
Haitham Alrikaby | Pittsburgh, PA
Newberry Old Hotel tells the story of an old hotel, built in 1878 in Newberry, South Carolina. The hotel houses the historic Newberry Art Center, founded by Marguerite Palmen. When the hotel went up for sale, Joseph McDonald and his wife decided to purchase the building because they were worried that if an outsider bought the Hotel, the art center and history would be destroyed.
Yutsi | Charlottesville, VA
Geography of Robots is a collection of pixel art, games, interactive fiction, and other experiments that explore the hidden geographies, environmental histories, and speculative futures of the Deep South. A collection of games, pixel art, and other experiments that explore the hidden geographies and environmental histories of the Deep South.
Zaire Love | Oxford, MS
Southern trees are the griots of the South. They hold wisdom and knowledge of the godly and the terror in the region. Listen as the trees talk my chile.
Thaddeus Jones and Ian Dillinger explore the conventions and culture of the rural southern landscape. Their images evoke conversation about the evolution of rural spaces and strive to give voice to those who call these places “home”. The pair of 2019 Indie Grits Fellows present unique perspectives and capture what they believe to be the essence of a culture stuck in the margins of the South.
Among Strangers: Cuba and Saluda in Conversation is an exploration of what it means to be a stranger. Yulian Martinez-Escobar and Lillian Burke will exhibit a series of collages and photographs that document their connections and conversations throughout their travels in Cuba and Saluda, SC.
As our first foray into the Rural Project, The Southern Disposition is an exhibition of photographs from a diverse group of Southern artists. Having sought work that “addresses and challenges the social, cultural, and physical landscapes of the South,” we are excited to showcase submissions from over 30 photographers, stationed throughout the Southeast and beyond.