Two Cities

 

The Two Cities Project

2017-2018

The 2017-2018 project “Two Cities” focuses its activities in North Columbia along North Main and Monticello Road, seeking to promote an open, inclusive, and welcoming dialogue through vibrant social events and original, place-based works of art with an eye towards social practice artworks, community collaboration and sustainability. By engaging artists and community members in a collaborative incubator, Two Cities is exploring how racial and socioeconomic factors define our experiences and interactions within our shared city.


An Introduction

Article by Jonathan Thomas

Indie Grits Labs (IGL) has dedicated the past eight months to producing a series of conversations, workshops, and community roundtables that explore the idea that Columbia is not one city but two, and that these two cities are experienced as parallel worlds. The project begins with an understanding that the diversity of our perspectives as well as the resources we can access as residents of Columbia are conditioned, if not curtailed, by the lived realities of racism and economic disparity, and that there are historical dynamics—shifting demographics, legacies of municipal neglect, and various modes of social exclusion—that have created a cultural force field that separates the downtown district from the North Main corridor.

Read More:


The Fellows


Yolanda Anderson


Yolanda Anderson, often known as Dorcas, is a Residents Services Coordinator at Gable Oaks Affordable Housing and North Pointe Estates. Originally from Lexington NC, she migrated to Gastonia, NC where she Graduated from N. Gaston High School. After college (1994) she made her home in Columbia SC and has been here since. Single mother of two, she enjoys singing, networking and traveling. She holds a MBA from Webster University, as well a BS Management degree from UNC Greensboro. Ms. Anderson, a dedicated educator, implemented and Directs an After School Program in the Gable Oaks Apartment complex off N. Main St. An outgoing, determined and resourceful person, she enjoys meeting and helping others. Her mottos in life are: “Blessed are the Flexible, for They Shall Not Be Broken” and “To Thine Ownself Be True.”

Mary Brebner

Mary Brebner is an educator, writer, journalist and graphic designer who uses her skills to engage journalism students in the active pursuit of balanced stories that affect them and their community. A member of the Journalism Education Association and South Carolina Student Press Association, she holds a Master’s Degree in Divergent Learning, advises multiple publications, teaches high school creative writing, and is in her 18th year in the classroom.


Michaela Pilar Brown


Michaela Pilar Brown is a multidisciplinary artist using photography, installation and performance to address issues attendant to the black body. She has had solo and group exhibitions in North and South Carolina, New York, Georgia, Washington, DC, California, Germany and Canada. She participated in 2016 Satellite Art Fair, Basel Miami. She was the 2011 Harvey B. Gantt Artist in Residence at the McColl Center for Art and Innovation, an artist Grant recipient at the Studio Center of Vermont, and an Artist Venture Grant recipient of the South Carolina Arts Commission. In 2016 she was one of six American artists chosen to participate in Open Immersion which was created as a Virtual Reality lab convened by the Ford Foundation, National Film Board of Canada and Canadian Film Centre in Toronto. This November she’ll travel to Montreal for (RIDM) [Montreal International Documentary Film Festival] for three days to present the prototype that she co-directed, and will exhibit work in the 2018 Biennial at 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, SC.


Fart.PDF


Columbia, South Carolina native, Fart.PDF (Benjamin Moore) is a self-taught conceptual artist of many mediums. Experimenting in abstract painting, graphic design, poetry and photography, Fart has served as, what some may consider, a bridge between both local and neighboring youth-driven artistic communities. Using Instagram as his primary platform, Fart began sharing his work publicly since late 2013 and has showcased his unique yet relatable mixed-media pieces throughout most of South Carolina’s biggest towns. Going by the alias “Farticus Was Here ®,” he has barely touched the surface of the impact and impression he wishes to have in the millennial avant-garde influences so prominent in today’s artistic expressions.


Mahkia Greene


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. However, when she’s not creating (or helping others create), Mahkia enjoys consuming copious amounts of television and food.


Roni Nicole Henderson


Roni Nicole Henderson is a Columbia, South Carolina based filmmaker who makes fiction, experimental, fine art, and documentary films and video installations. As a photographer, she shoots fashion and fine art and documents artists and everyday folk. Her work has been exhibited and presented across the U.S. and in the Netherlands, and her films have been featured in the Blackstar, Crown Heights, and Pan African film festivals. In 2012-2013, she was a Walthall Fellow at Wonderroot in Atlanta.

Curtis Heru

Curtis Heru was born in Raleigh, NC but raised in Kingstree, SC. He is the owner of the free enterprise Hakuna Matata Unlimited, which offers Vibrational Therapy, African Fashion, African Dance, Art, Meditation, Cultural Discourse and their Spiritech products. At Benedict College he served as an instructor for the School of Business and Economics, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music with an instrument specialty in saxophone, and is currently an Associate Artistic Director for an African cultural performance troupe. Curtis is also a candidate for a Master of Arts degree in Ethnomusicology from Kenyatta University, in Kenya. In 2011, Curtis was featured on a nationally broadcast musical TV series in Nairobi, Kenya, and has also been honored with the key to the City of Quibdo, Choco in Colombia for his leadership skills and work towards the ongoing fight for the enlightenment of the African Diaspora.


Laura Kissel


Laura Kissel is a professor of Media Arts in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina where she teaches courses on media culture, video production and documentary filmmaking. Her Emmy-nominated documentary about a global, cotton supply chain—Cotton Road (2014)—has been translated into four languages and exhibited around the world in film and video festivals, at community events on sustainability, and in classrooms. It was included in SCETV’s inaugural season of the nationally syndicated public television show Reel South and broadcast on more than 75 national public television stations, including in the major markets of New York and Chicago. She was an Invited Featured Artist at the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 2011 and a Fulbright Research Fellow in 2009. Laura is a long-time resident of North Columbia and a board member of the Columbia Rowing Club.

Darion McCloud

Darion McCloud is an actor, director, storyteller, educator, arts activist, and children’s literature advocate from Columbia, SC. He founded and serves as Creative Director of both the NiA Theatre Company and Story Squad. He is a company member of Trustus Theatre and the SC Shakespeare Company and a Riley Institute Diversity Fellow. McCloud is a formally trained visual artist with a BA in Studio Art from the University of South Carolina who found his way to the stage through telling stories. McCloud has committed his life to the transforming power of art and enjoys crafting theatre experiences for the old, young, the initiated, and the un-initiated.

Rico McDaniel

From Winnsboro, SC Rico graduated from Fairfield Central High School with dreams of becoming an artist, writer and filmmaker. A graduate of The Art Institute of Charlotte with a BFA in Digital Film and Video Production, Rico uses uses popular culture, trends, misconceptions and media biases to
influence and inspire his artistic process. He uses his gift of gab to captivate audiences, communities and crew members alike. Rico has won multiple public speaking awards and is also the Runner-up in the 2015 Toastmasters International South Carolina Humorous Speech Contest. He is also the President of Raconteurs Toastmasters at Hyatt Park. He is currently an Artist-in-Residence at Midlands Arts Conservatory, and is teaching an after school program for Indie Grits Labs at W.A. Perry Middle School.

Betsy Newman

Betsy Newman is a documentary producer and web content developer specializing in making programs on the history and culture of South Carolina. To date she has produced twelve documentaries about the Palmetto State. A South Carolina native, she worked for many years in New York City as an independent producer, video artist and media educator. In New York she created video installations on feminist themes in a laundromat and a beauty parlor. Betsy has been nominated for two Emmy Awards and is the recipient of a CINE Golden Eagle and a Webby Award. Her interactive multimedia website Between the Waters received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History in 2017. She is a 2016 recipient of the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities.

Josetra Robinson

Josetra Robinson is a Columbia, SC native by way of Anniston, AL. She is the co-founder and co-manager of One7evenOne Productions (O7O), a video production and photography company specializing in short films, promotional and music videos. The production company has won the Second Act Film Festival for 2 consecutive years with their short films Eva’s Plug and BAIT. Robinson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and a Masters of Science in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University.

Tahirah Spann

Tahirah Spann is a California-born, South Carolina-raised food equality advocate and educator. Growing up, the importance of whole foods to overall wellness were instilled, leading her to work within schools throughout Northern California and South Carolina implementing agriculture, art, and literacy projects. It was these experiences that exposed her to the vast disparities in food access and education. Realizing that many students simply didn’t know where food comes from or where food scraps go, and more importantly the role we all play in this process, Tahirah made it her life’s work to change the perception of food through exposure and access. In 2015, Tahirah founded the Sugar Beat Project, an organization whose aim is to develop community-centered sustainable food practices and increase food access and awareness as a means to restore holistic wellness and vibrancy in our communities.


The Process

In a series of workshops and public forums beginning in August 2017 and running through the festival in April 2018, a selected cohort of artists (filmmakers, artists, activists, community organizers, agriculturalists, etc) primarily residing in North Columbia will work with community stakeholders and partnering organizations including SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, Richland County Library, SC Arts Commission, One Columbia, Hyatt Park Keenan Terrace Neighborhood Association, and the North Columbia Business Association amongst others to address issues such as race, gentrification, arts funding inequities, housing displacement, and unification of the North Main corridor. Artworks were revealed by the cohort during the 2018 Indie Grits Festival, taking place April 12-15.


The Leadership Team
 

Seth Gadsden

Indie Grits Labs Director
Seth Gadsden is an artist, filmmaker, curator of public programming, and current director of Indie Grits Labs in Columbia, SC. Focusing on public art, experimental documentary filmmaking, and transmedia installations, Seth has exhibited his personal work across the US and has completed murals and outdoor sculptures in places like Mexico, North Dakota, Boston, Houston and his hometown of Clover, SC.

Michaela Pilar Brown

Visual Artist
Michaela Pilar Brown is a multidisciplinary artist using photography, installation and performance to address issues attendant to the black body. She has had solo and group exhibitions in North and South Carolina, New York, Georgia, Washington, DC, California, Germany and Canada. She participated in 2016 Satellite Art Fair, Basel Miami.
She was the 2011 Harvey B. Gantt Artist in Residence at the McColl Center for Art and Innovation, an artist Grant recipient at the Studio Center of Vermont, and an Artist Venture Grant recipient of the South Carolina Arts Commission. In 2016 she was one of six American artists chosen to participate in Open Immersion which was created as a Virtual Reality lab convened by the Ford Foundation, National Film Board of Canada and Canadian Film Centre in Toronto. This November she’ll travel to Montreal for (RIDM) [Montreal International Documentary Film Festival] for three days to present the prototype that she co-directed, and will exhibit work in the 2018 Biennial at 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, SC.

Roni Nicole

Visual Artist/Filmmaker
Roni Nicole Henderson is a Columbia, South Carolina based filmmaker who makes fiction, experimental, fine art, and documentary films and video installations. As a photographer, she shoots fashion and fine art and documents artists and everyday folk. Her work has been exhibited and presented across the U.S. and in the Netherlands, and her films have been featured in the Blackstar, Crown Heights, and Pan African film festivals. In 2012-2013, she was a Walthall Fellow at Wonderroot in Atlanta.