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Nollyhood: Welcome to The Conversation

Grant Proposal 2023


Preliminary list of involved artists:

I propose to curate an artistic event that celebrates the peculiarity of what it means to be the child of immigrants steeped in communal culture navigating an individualistic landscape such as the United States.


In order to develop this project, I would first need to research the history of subcultures within my demographic; what do 1st generation black artists like to do? How many of us are queer? Where do we coalesce, what causes do we corral around? This can be documented through visual interviews of different artists I've worked with that can be interpolated with images of past Nollyhood events as well as visual portraits of each artist in their element. The goal is to create an event where I can showcase this presentation of our culture; whether your parents are from Haiti, or Nigeria, or Canada, or Jamaica, Honduras, Barbados, Brazil, or Guyana- there is a particular flavor to our blackness. It is my goal to demonstrate this blending of cultures, how through movement, music, dance, painting, sculpting, etc. we take on the age old cape of the griot and whisper on through our expression that thing we call culture. Within this project I hope to interview within and help cultivate different spaces of congregation amongst artists I know; dance studios, jewelry making workshops, live painting, hair braiding, photo shoots and fashion styling- I would love to document these different artistic forms, compile them into different visual mediums, and display them at a curated event that showcases the art of those involved. An extravaganza where 1st generation artists meet to discuss and pontificate, eat and drink, politick and debate- a true soiree. This is why it's named The Conversation. It is my hope to direct connection away from social media and bring us back into a space of true communal congregation; a practice that the children of immigrants must keep alive by way of our family structure. I would like to explore more the idea of blackness as it pertains to a child of immigrants who pursues art as their structure, and to provide spaces where we can discuss how to mold our futures in our image, based on traditions old and new.

The resources needed for this project are as follows: event space, interviewee compensation, interview location funding, equipment funding, editor compensation, travel funding, event staff funding, and funding for production. Mentorship from someone who has pursued art using their creativity, their performance, and their likeness to leverage themselves as the spearhead of branding a culture so that it can be received by a larger mass in entertaining congregational measures is integral to this project as well.

Curatorial practice has been a long kept and guarded world; however, some of the most coveted art comes from the community I describe, and in a changing landscape, it is imperative that we strive to open more doors for people to work comfortably within their mediums around a like minded community. To remain on the forefront of progress, we must work with our youth as it is the future; that means not only protecting the innocence of children, but also providing spaces for us to heal and create anew from innocence lost. Grants, fundraising, and foundational support aid in providing us with the necessary resources and guidance to actualize our goals. No man is an island, a proverb that rings steadily through the heart of what I am trying to create. I am wealthy in ideas and resourceful within my community, but I know we deserve more. With help from an established foundation, I can help bolster the platforms of my immediate community so that we can share ourselves in a way that is meaningful and profitable. 

In 2021, I received a grant from the New York Foundation of the Arts to create a free public event that highlights the artistic culture of my immediate community within the Brooklyn Borough. This sparked the creation of Nollyhood. At our first event, with a maximum capacity of 280 people, we capped at 189 tickets sold before the event with an additional 43 attendees on the day of. We danced, had three performances, sold food and drinks, and curated a photobooth that highlighted an old Nollywood horror tale by the name of Karishika. The event was themed and everyone came dressed in their best Y2K Nollywood attire; it was a true soiree, and I get compliments about the event to this day! The entirety of the grant went to the venue, and paying out food, drink, djs, and technicians, but it is my hope moving forward that I can use the budgeting skills I've gained over the past two years in curating more events to fairly compensate not only those core workers but hosts and performers as well. By building relationships over the years within my community, I've granted myself access to a position where, with a bit of help, I can provide the satisfaction to others that comes from profiting off of your art.

The project is currently in corporeal form; I have artists ready to be interviewed and photographers and videographers available to do them, but no interview space; I have 50% of the footage for the visual component compiled but I still require interviews. I have access to several venues but need funding to secure them, and require equipment to display the visual medium, as well as funding to compensate participating artists for interviews and performances. This project will incorporate an ideal form of how human beings can use technology in tangent with their nature. By utilizing digital mediums of displaying art while also curating organic spaces to cultivate and appreciate said art, we help to bridge the gap between man and technology in an ever more postmodern world. Progress and technology does not need to mean we morph into something robotic and we forget what it means to feel, to bleed, to live, it instead gives us the opportunity to capture a moment of mortal essence and immortalize it for generations to come.

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