Seattle poet J Mase III and Vashon artists Beka Economopoulos and Jason Jones will receive a $100,000 award from Creative Capital for the production of new projects.
Being black and transgender is at the center of J Mase's work. The poet will collaborate with Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, a Washington D.C.-based artist, on a book and documentary project called The Black Trans Prayer Book: A Performative Documentary.
"It's about collecting the stories, the poems, the prayers, the incantations and healing tools of black trans people for black trans people," Mase said in an interview.
The poet has been working on the project for three years. So receiving the Creative Capital award now, Mase says, "feels kind of surreal that all these things are coming to a head this way."
Economopoulos and Jones (along with their collaborator, Director of the Native Organizers Alliance and New York-based media producer Judith LeBlanc) will use the award to complete The Natural History Museum Presents: The Supreme Court of Red Natural History project, an ongoing art intervention that assembles a collective of accusers within an authoritative architecture to put natural history on trial, according to a press release.
Economopoulos says they are planning an exhibit for the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh that will create an exact replica of the U.S. Supreme Court inside the museum. She said a several day 'people's tribunal' will be held there that will take a "critical look at natural history."
As for receiving a coveted Creative Capital grant, Economopoulos said it's gratifying because getting grants for the kind of work she and Jones do can be difficult. "For arts grants, sometimes we're too activisty, for activism funding opportunities sometimes we're too creative," she said. But, she said the nexus of arts and activism is increasingly essential. "To change policy, you have to change hearts and minds," she said. A total of 41 individual artists across the country are recipients of this year's Creative Capital Awards. Updated at 9:00 AM 1-16 with the correct spelling of J Mase III's name.