Rudy Ramirez is a director, writer and teaching artist specializing in the development of new work and new artists. They have directed and developed work for a number of organizations around the country, including Colby College, Contemporary American Theater Festival, The Lark, Latino Theater Company, Lexington Children’s Theater, Herman Melville’s Arrowhead, National Queer Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, New York University, Octopus Theatricals, The Playwrights’ Center, Red Bull Theatre, The San Antonio Public, Shrewd Productions, Sky Candy Aerial Arts, Southwestern University, Teatro Audaz, Teatro Vivo, Signature Theatre, and the University of Texas at Austin. They are the founding Artistic Director of Avante Theatre Project and Associate Artistic Director of The VORTEX in Austin, TX, where they were named Best Director of 2017 in the Austin Chronicle Readers Poll and where they won 10 B. Iden Payne Awards for their work in directing, acting and music composition. They were finalists for the NNPN Director’s Fellowship and the TCG Alan Schneider Award. They have an MA in Performance Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and an MFA in Directing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The cornerstone of my practice is the radical potential of human bodies connecting in shared space. The modern world alienates us from our bodies with everything from sedentary jobs to impossible beauty standards to anonymous online platforms that bring out our cruelest selves. To show that bodies working in tandem can create a world onstage without having to rely on expensive sets or special effects--especially when they are bodies of color, older bodies, trans bodies, fat bodies--empowers an audience to see their own transformative potential. By combining movement-based theatrical practices ranging from Michael Chekhov technique to butoh to circus arts with naturalistic acting practices that shift character in the moment, I bring to life work that draws the mythic and monumental into the contemporary world to speak to the capacity of communities to shape social movements on the global scale. I've collaborated with a diverse array of writers and performance artists including Gabriel Jason Dean, Reina Hardy, Jose Rivera, Lisa B. Thompson and Jesus Valles to develop new work that expands the imaginative landscape of the American theater.
Mas Cara, Written by Krysta Gonzales, Photo by Errich Petersen
The Benedetti Teaching Artist Residency is a nine-month Visiting Instructor/Artist-in-Residence Fellowship offered through MCLA Arts & Culture and MCLA's Department of Fine and Performing Arts. It is an annual residency, beginning in the Fall of every school year. Selected artists may work in painting, sculpture, graphic design, illustration, or mixed media. While teaching courses at MCLA they also work in the studio as one of Gallery 51's resident artists who will culminate their tenure with an exhibition in Gallery 51. These exemplary artists provide our students and the community with workshops and public programs and each teaching resident has an MCLA student who assists them and is mentored by the resident for the school year. The residency aims to bring new artistic perspectives to MCLA and contribute to the diversity, equity, access and inclusion on campus and in the community.
This residency is funded by a generous bequest from the estate of Alma Benedetti ’37. A beloved North Adams art teacher and life-long advocate and friend of the College, Alma Benedetti inspired generations of children with her keen sense of color, composition, and design.
Sunny Allis works intuitively and with embodied physicality to create works that convey a heightened state of aliveness, spontaneity, and play. They explore transformation as a generative state of creation, and celebrate the queer/trans body as expansive, dynamic and limitless. Many of Sunny’s projects focus on community and connection through different mediums of storytelling. Sunny released a gender-inclusive, bilingual children’s book called Hooray, What A Day!/¡Viva, Qué Día! They are currently developing a multimedia, inclusive kids TV show called All Together Now!
Sunny (they/them) is a trans non-binary multidisciplinary artist. Sunny studied directing and design for theater at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and received their MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Integrated Media. At Occidental College, the City of Santa Monica, and Kidspace Children’s Museum, among other organizations, they have created several interactive public art installations that take people through imaginary worlds and immersive environments. Their animations have won awards internationally, including at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Madrid Experimental Film Festival, and the Linoleum Festival in Moscow. Sunny has worked for many years as an educator in schools and with communities of all backgrounds. They have taught classes in sculptural storytelling, world building, musical performance, recycled art assemblage, puppetry, and public art. Sunny is passionate about engaging people’s voices and visions, so they feel empowered as change-makers, transforming themselves and the world around them.
WANG Chen (b.1991) received a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University (2014) and an MFA in Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology (2018). WANG has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at Fotografiska Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, Roswell Museum, New Mexico, Lauren Powell Project, Los Angeles, The Immigrant Artist Biennial, NYC, Alfred University, and Crosstown Art Center in Memphis.
WANG’s fellowships, awards, and residencies include New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellow (Interdisciplinary), MacDowell Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center, NYFA IMP 2018, NARS Artist Foundation in Brooklyn, and Roswell Artist’s in Residency.
WANG Chen incorporates drawing, animation, sculpture, costumed performance, fabrication, sound engineering, and 3D game design to create highly saturated fictional immersive dreamscapes within video installation. For WANG’s recent solo exhibition at Roswell Museum, In the Woods, which draws upon the artist’s concerns and anxiety to the (im)possibility of the future during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using the dark woods as a metaphor to mimic the current chaotic present-day society, exploring both utopia and dystopia and examining issues such as power structures, politics, race, and gender.
This work was funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Nathaniel Donnett is a multi-disciplinary cultural practitioner who lives and works in Houston, TX. Donnett's practice holds metaphysical and phenomenological spaces that speak to history, uncertainty, socio-political and cultural concerns, space/time, the interior/exterior self, and race. He applies refusal strategies that cultivate his oeuvre, embedding polyrhythms into the poetics of the everyday. By exercising black aesthetic traditions, radical fractal theory, ideas of incompleteness, and sacred geometry as methodologies and everyday aesthetics, Donnett challenges conventional linear timeline narratives and Westernized frameworks. Visual, haptic, and audio languages are translations via modes of abstraction and figural vernacular coded systems. Donnett employs these codes to find the nuance and meaning in the overlooked and undervalued. Investigating materials and ideas compiled from daily life, a series of endless questions arise that refer to the imagination, experience, and thought processes. These associations are applied asymmetrically, unfolding imaginative and practical cosmologies.
Nathaniel Donnett received his BA in Fine Arts from Texas Southern University and his MFA from Yale University School of Art. Donnett is a recipient of a 2020 Dean's Critical Practice Research Grant, 2020 Art and Social Justice Initiative Grant, and the 2020-2021 Helen Frankenthaler Scholarship. Donnett has been awarded a 2017 Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant, 2015 Idea Fund/Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, a 2014 Harpo Foundation Grant, and a 2010 Artadia Award. His work has been shown at The Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA, The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virgina Beach, VA, The Mennello Museum, Orlando FL, The Ulrich Museum, Wichita, KS, The American Museum, Washington, DC, The Kemper Contemporary Arts Museum, Kansas City, MO, The Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury CT, The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX, Project Row Houses, Houston, TX, The University Museum, Houston, TX, and The New Museum, New York, NY.
Nathaniel Donnett is represented by Morton Fine Art Gallery
This work was funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Conrad Egyir (b. 1989, Ghana; lives and works in Detroit) has an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. His work has been featured in group shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Cranbrook Art Museum (Bloomfield Hills, MI) and Grand Rapids Art Museum (MI). Paintings have been acquired by the Detroit Institute of Art (MI), Perez Museum (FL), Kalamazoo Institute of Art (MI), Rennie Collection (Vancouver, BC), the Jimenez-Colon Collection (Puerto Rico) and the Cranbrook Art Museum (MI).
Addressing contemporary American culture, biblical parables and Ashanti iconography from his native Ghana, Egyir’s work explores questions of ethics, honesty, identity and the social-psychology of community. Monumental, uncanny and often satirically grandiose, the paintings combine the graphic sensuality of Pop Art with the far-reaching narratives of history painting. Egyir’s materials include oil, acrylic, glitter, Plexiglas, wood and found fabric flowers. His works are deeply art historical, often making explicit reference to specific works by Kerry James Marshall, Jacob Lawrence, Charles White and Kara Walker. They are also in dialogue with diverse forms of popular culture, whether they are religious, musical or animated.
Sherwin Rio (Brooklyn/San Francisco) is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher making site-specific and research-based metaphors addressing colonization, historical public amnesia, and intergenerational storytelling through a Filipinx-American lens in the fields of sculpture, installation, video, performance, and audio. He has exhibited and performed as a solo and collaborative artist in venues such as: La Becque (CH), Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (CA), de Young Museum (CA), Carnegie Museum of Art (PA), Carlsbad Museum of Art (NM), San Jose State University (CA), Portland State University (OR), University of Northern Colorado (CO), Human Resources (CA), and Torpedo Factory (VA). His work has been acquired by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Rio has received awards including the San Francisco Foundation's Jack K. and Gertrude Murphy Award, the Ella King Torrey Award for Innovation and Excellence in the Arts, and the San Francisco Art Institute's Outstanding MFA Graduate Award, as well as a fellowship at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA. He has had residencies at the Josephine Sculpture Park (Frankfort, KY) through the International Sculpture Center and the Walkaway House (North Adams, MA).
He received a dual MFA in Studio Art and MA in History and Theory of Contemporary Art from SFAI and a BFA in Printmaking with a minor in Art History from the University of Florida.
Joshua Ross (1992, Indianapolis, Indiana) holds an MFA in Art at the University of California, Irvine, and a BFA in Photography from Herron School of Art in Indianapolis. Ross’ research-based practice is an entrenched phenomenological approach that investigates institutional, bodily, and spatial structures that organize and influence perception. Ross’ multi-disciplinary practice employs and appropriates a variety of material and media developed through relationships to methodologies inherently related to his research and archival experiences of photography. Some recent notable exhibits Ross has featured artwork include Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Queens LA, and Human Resources Los Angeles.
Genevieve Gaignard is a Los Angeles based artist whose work focuses on photographic self-portraiture, sculpture, and installation to explore race, femininity, class, and their various intersections. The daughter of a black father and white mother, Gaignard’s youth was marked by a strong sense of invisibility. Was her family white enough to be white? Black enough to be black? Gaignard interrogates notions of “passing” in an effort to address these questions. She positions her own female body as the chief site of exploration — challenging viewers to navigate the powers and anxieties of intersectional identity. Influenced by the soulful sounds of Billy Stewart, the kitschy aesthetic of John Waters and the provocative artifice of drag culture, Gaignard uses low-brow pop sensibilities to craft dynamic visual narratives. From the identity performance ritualized in ‘‘selfie” culture to the gender performance of femininity, Gaignard blends humor, persona and popular culture to reveal the ways in which the meeting and mixing of contrasting realities can feel much like displacement.
Gaignard received her MFA in Photography at Yale University and her BFA in Photography at Massachusetts College of Art. She has exhibited throughout the United States, including shows at Studio Museum in Harlem, the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, and the Houston Center for Photography. In 2017, her work was included in the Prospect.4 Triennial in New Orleans. Gaignard's work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The New Yorker, W Magazine, The LA Times, Artforum, and on Vice News Tonight, among others. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Studio Museum in Harlem, California African American Museum, LA, Pérez Art Museum Miami, the Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, the FLAG Art Foundation, New York, the Seattle Museum of Art, and the San Jose Museum of Art.
September 4, 2020: The Berkshire Eagle, "MCLA Gallery 51 reopens with 'A Long Way From Home'"