Marking our fifth year of partnership with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, A4A is thrilled to welcome 10 new Rhode Island artists into our matched savings program!
Self-taught poet, playwright, actor, director, and writer Christopher Johnson (Providence) first started as a hip-hop artist, before serendipity brought him to the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York. Now, when Christopher sees movements, he wants to mimic them; when he hears unique syntax, phrases, and metaphors, he begins to work with them to make them his own.
Moving forward, Christopher plans to record and edit enough short videos to launch a YouTube channel centered on equality in the justice system. Police violence is not new, but with the advent of cellphones and social media, video and art can cast a new light that humanizes victims and draws empathy from otherwise apathetic audiences.
Kelsey Miller’s (Portsmouth) practice expands on printmaking’s inherent qualities of repetition and layering, such as iterative mark-making, the layering of ink, and the accumulation of panels for an immersive installation. Kelsey draws content from daily immediacy—like the continuously updating news cycle or weather forecasts—and from longer-term accumulations—like the information revealed by sifting through archived documents and scientific data.
Kelsey recently turned her two-car garage into a spacious art studio and acquired an etching press that she will be moving in later this summer. Her vision is to have the studio be a space in which she can make and exhibit her own work, offer printmaking workshops to the community, and eventually host artist residencies.
Glass artist Chris Taylor (Riverside) is the founder of Craft Advisory, a studio practice that challenges conventions of art and design by allowing his viewers to indulge in the tactile nature of sculptures outside of an art context.
Chris aspires to expand Craft Advisory’s audience and looks forward to developing new distribution opportunities to sell his work. Additionally, he seeks to solidify the inner workings of Craft Advisory to ensure the continued success of the program.
Matthew Kramer (Providence) is a cartoonist, illustrator, and visual artist. His comics focus on the elegance of commonplace speech and its relation to literary arts through the poetry of everyday words, gestures, and looks. The work is grounded in the visual ballet of expression and uses dialogue and inner monologue to create lyrical moments.
In the near future, Matthew plans do delve deeper into the comic community by making zines, prints, and merchandise of his work. He feels that publishing in this way is a prerequisite for certain comic prizes and conventions, which he also hopes to apply for in the future.
Fiber artist Veronica Mays (Portsmouth) loves to design and create art quilts that reflect her African American heritage. She derives inspiration from the feel of fabric and the anticipation of the project itself. Veronica uses African-inspired fabrics to create pieces that emanate her culture. Portrait quilts are of particular interest to her.
Veronica’s ultimate goal is to transition from being a public high school English teacher to a full time quilt artist. She practices her craft on a regular basis, but would like to continue learning at a higher level. She intends to learn more about fabric dyeing in particular. She would also like to enter three or more quilt competitions and enroll in classes to help master her craft.
Ryan Dean (Providence) finds the root of his practice in printmaking, with a specialization in intaglio processes, screen printing and letterpress. Ryan’s proudest achievement is his business, LUMUKU. Through this business he has created bilingual card games that bring people together as they learn new languages. He enjoys using his design skills to help people learn in new, innovative ways, while having fun.
After successfully completing a Kickstarter campaign, Ryan created and professionally printed his second bilingual card game, HALF + MEDIO. He has since introduced this game to the world and is working on a distribution and marketing plan to ensure the greatest success.
Hernan Jourdan’s (Providence) practice spans from site-specific experiences to performances to writing. His interventions take place in unexpected places and moments or at crafted events he organizes. This acute attention to space is related to his bicultural experience of the world as someone born and raised in Buenos Aires but living and working in Rhode Island.
He speaks of his lived account as a Latino living in the US with the podcast “Thank You For Listening.” For the past four years he has been focused on writing about the series of personal and historical events that took him from South to North America.
Nafis White (Providence) steeps her work in her identity and culture. She celebrates the inventiveness, care and love people—especially Black Women—share through their fingertips: plaiting revolution and building community through hairdressing. Nafis weaves as a devotional art to honor the legacy, knowledge and technology developed by and carried on by people of her ancestry.
Nafis sees having a close-knit artist community as being beneficial to her overall practice. She looks forward to growing public exposure to her work and herself as an artist. One of the first steps will be a remodel of her website to make it more directed toward promotion and social media.
Jenine Bressner (Johnston) has been sculpting glass with torches and laser cutting textiles since 1998. She strives to make work that surprises her, that satisfies a desire to see something she’s never seen before. She takes pride in having taught and shown work all over the world.
After making necessary repairs to her laser cutter, Jenine plans to write and produce a children's book. For it, she will create dioramas of fantasy landscapes made of handmade glass and laser-cut textile elements. She will photograph the dioramas as the book’s illustrations and sell prints of those photographs.
Anastasia Azure (Pawtucket) combines ancient weaving techniques, traditional metalsmithing and contemporary materials to explore the elegance of geometry. Her sculptures create sophisticated serenity in a space, while her jewelry is innovative and bold, yet classic and wearable.
Looking forward, Anastasia’s goal is for her work to reach a wider audience through further development of her website.