Announcement of 2015 Makers Muse Recipients

Apr 02, 2015

Faig Ahmed • Franklin López
Kent Monkman • Julio Salgado
Meriem Bennani • Taslim van Hattum
Voice Monet • Winona LaDuke

Spanning geographically from Baku, Azerbaijan to White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota the work of this year’s Makers Muse awardees is captivating, thought-provoking, and pushes the arts well beyond expected boundaries.

Using mediums as broad as sculpture, video, the written word, hand-crafted jewelry, illustration, painting, sound, comedy and fashion–this year’s artists are melting the molds of their genres to create fresh perspectives on some of the most complex issues of our time. Some are tackling issues as dense as renewable energy, gender and colonization, and the perceptions of Muslim womanhood. While others are using their own unique lens to assemble traditional mediums anew. They are snarky, serious, inquiring, and, above all else, they are wildly talented individuals who we are thrilled to introduce you to.

At this pivotal moment in Kindle’s story we feel especially honored and wonderfully inspired by our 2015 Makers Muse recipients.

Faig Ahmed graduated from the Sculpture faculty at the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku in 2004. Since 2003, he has been working with various media, including painting, video and installation. Currently, he is studying the artistic qualities of Azerbaijani traditional rugs – he disassembles their conventional structure and randomly rearranges the resulting components of the traditional composition then combines these fragments with contemporary sculptural forms. With his technique the artist translates traditional carpet language into uniersal language of contemporary art, making it understandable for the rest of the people.

Franklin López is an anarchist filmmaker from occupied Borikén (Puerto Rico.) He has produced hundreds of videos and short films under the subMedia.tv banner, a website he has been curating since 2000. He is most well known for “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine” his snarky web news/comedy series followed by thousands. But his work also includes mash-ups, music videos and political documentaries. In 2011 Frank toured around the world with his feature film “END:CIV”, presenting it in over 150 venues in 18 countries. In 2013 he released “Street Politics 101”, a documentary about the street actions that took place during the Quebec student strike of 2012. Frank now resides in Montréal and you may view all his films free of charge at subMedia.tv.

Kent Monkman is well known for his provocative reinterpretations of romantic North American landscapes. Themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience – the complexities of historic and contemporary Native American experience – are explored in a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance, and installation.

His glamorous diva alter-ego Miss Chief appears in much of his work as an agent provocateur, trickster, and supernatural being, who reverses the colonial gaze, upending received notions of history and indigenous people. With Miss Chief at centre stage, Monkman has created memorable site specific performances at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, The Royal Ontario Museum, The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Compton Verney, and most recently at the Denver Art Museum. His award-winning short film and video works have been screened at various national and international festivals, including the 2007 and 2008 Berlinale, and the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.

Monkman has been awarded the Egale Leadership Award, the Indspire Award and the Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award. His work has been exhibited internationally and is widely represented in the collections of major Museums in Canada and the USA. He is represented by Pierre-Francois Ouellette Art Contemporain in Montreal and Toronto, Sargent’s Daughters in New York and Trepanier Baer in Calgary.

(Image below: Danaë Receiving the Golden Rain, 2015, 60” x 49”, Acrylic on Canvas)

Julio Salgado is a visual artist based in Berkeley, CA. Salgado was born in Ensenada, Mexico and moved to Long Beach, CA with his parents and younger sister in 1995. His status as an undocumented and queer immigrant and the bravery of civil disobedience actions by undocumented youth has fueled the content of his activist artwork. Salgado co-founded the multi-media project DreamersAdrift.com after graduating from California State University, Long Beach with a degree in journalism. In 2012, Salgado appeared on the cover of Time Magazine along with journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and other undocumented activists.

New Yorked-based artist Meriem Bennani grew up in Morocco, earned an MFA from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and a BFA from Cooper Union in New York. Bennani and artist Hayden Dunham are the co-founders of Other Travel, a collaborative curatorial project involving the creation and delivery of extra-terrestrial gifts to seven artists in the New York area. She is also one half of Some Silly Stories, a series of kooky, kinky hand-animated perversions based on her own crude drawings and a constant dialog with musician Flavien Berger.

Meriem is currently working on videos and photographs documenting the life of Fardaous Funjab, the avant-garde Moroccan Hijab designer. The project explores the encounter of fashion and religion with a focus on the aesthetics of sexuality/sexiness in a contemporary Muslim context. Bennani is interested in dissolving tropes and questioning systems of representation through a strategy of magical realism and humor as an unreliable pacifier.

Taslim van Hattum is a multi-disciplinary artist raised in Northern New Mexico to the sounds of the Turkish saz in a woodshop in the village of Abiquiu. Her work focuses on how contemporary society intersects with religious and sociopolitical identities, representations and women–challenging and exposing the way in which space, personhood, belief and popular culture are connected and imagined by the viewer. Her work disrupts notions of Muslim womanhood, Muslim femininity and identity without resorting to easier tropes of a niqabi in a bikini or other more simplistic juxtapositions that don’t always delve deeper into the subtlety of what it means to vacillate between cultures, religions, identities and loyalties. Her work is at once indigenous to her experience as a Muslim woman, deeply critical of her own cultural and religious frameworks, and irreverent, silly, and crafted with purpose.

Taslim is also committed to her career as a social worker and public heath professional in New Orleans, Louisiana. She currently serves as the Director of the Maternal and Child Health Portfolio at the Louisiana Public Health Institute. In her spare time beyond art and public health she devises elaborate, unfulfilled plans to kill the possum family living in her studio roof.

Her most recent project is 100 Muslim Women.

If hip-hop was a woman, she would sound like Voice Monet, a sultry storyteller with none of the testosterone and all of the attitude. Voice sorts through the complexities of relationships and hardships in her music using the same mother’s mettle which has powered an array of social-minded business and creative enterprises. She was teaching classfuls of New Orleans youth how to rap as an official Teaching Artist In Residence when Hope & Sorrow, the 2007 Decon/Atmospheriques release from celebrated French producer Wax Tailor, was certified silver. She has co-owned and operated Featherperm Records and a boutique media production company Go Head Media. She regularly books her own international tours, and has played at world-reknowned venues like L’Olympia in Paris and 2013’s Montreal Jazz Festival.  A Visual Arts graduate of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and a Pratt Institute Media Arts alumni, in recent years her work in the producer/director/cinematographer’s seat has spurned several short docs about cultural and community empowerment within New Orleans with spotlights on positive role models, burgeoning artists, and organizations. But it’s her role as a single parent of two sons that has most profoundly molded her into the gracious, dedicated, comfortable, confident, ferociously independent artist and entrepreneur who continues to happily blaze trails off the beaten path.

Winona LaDuke, with a BA Harvard University l98l, Community Fellows Program Massachusetts Institute of Technology l982-3 and Masters of Rural Development Antioch University 1986, is scholar and rural development economist working on sustainable development renewable energy and food systems. She is the author of six books used widely in colleges and universities internationally and the author of numerous articles.

Ms LaDuke is an expert witness in carbon, economic and environmental discussions with reference to energy policy and has testified at the United Nations, the US Congress and numerous state and federal hearings on these issues.

As an expert witness in the proposed Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline, she submits this testimony demonstrating there is no ‘need’ for this pipeline and the paucity of economic and environmental foresight for such a proposal.