According to a release from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, this year’s projects exemplify the program’s values of experimentation, risk-taking, and creative innovation.
The 2023 Awardees are:
Abigail Lucien – to support Mood Come Alive, which centers around sculptural poetics to create scaled recreations of Sans-Souci Palace and imagine a speculative future for the Republic of Haïti.
Alejandra Nunez – to support Memory Mist, a series of improvised sound pieces that uses distorted samples, instruments and DJ equipment to explore and reimagine dance music for a meditative listening experience.
Aliana Grace Bailey – to support Soft Gather, an installation series of healing spaces using fiber and color theory, where Black communities and individuals can comfortably gather, reflect, rest, and build relationships.
Ami Dang – to support Bhai Vir Singh’s Lost Melodies, a song cycle and installation featuring lyrics and music compositions from Kambdi Kalai, a poetry collection by Vir Singh (the artist’s great, great grandfather) with original musical arrangements for sitar, voice, harmonium, dilruba, tabla, and electronics.
Cheyanne Zadia Givens – to support Vacants, an episodic series depicting a poetic portrait of a seemingly decaying West Baltimore
Colette Krogol & Matt Reeves – to support A&I, a new performer and AI (Artificial Intelligence) operated dance and multimedia performance that uses smart home technology on a theatrical scale. The work questions how we see and care for the technologies we have created, which hold up the fragile ecosystems of modern society. Once complete they will present A&I with their company, Orange Grove Dance.
Diana Wharton-Sennaar – to support Carry On, a new American musical that tells the story of tribulations and triumphs for a group of senior living facility residents at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elena Volkova – to support Faces: Ukrainian Portraits, a participatory arts project using a historic photographic process to create a visual archive that bears witness to the Ukrainian women and children displaced by war.
Jalynn Harris – to support Oh, Baltimore!, a collection of poems using the site of Druid Hill Park and the artist’s embodied experiences as a Baltimore native as the central subjects, in order to create art that redresses the narrative of a city wrecked by negative representation in the media.
Jimmy Joe Roche – to support A Complete History of the Known Universe, an experimental, narrative feature film about a group of eccentric drifters gathered on the fringes of society, planning for the end of the world.
Jung Yun – to support her third novel, tentatively titled WAKE, which follows three groups of passengers on a cruise to Bermuda shortly after 9/11.
Laura Laing – to support Three: A Memoir, a fractured, non-chronological exploration of coming-of-age and coming-out memoir told through the lens of mathematical proof and structure.
Laura Wexler – to support American Love Story, a docu-play created from the verbatim transcript of an infamous 1925 trial in which a husband seeks to annul his marriage, claiming his wife defrauded him by failing to divulge her “Colored blood.” American Love Story places the audience inside the courtroom to experience this Jazz Age spectacle, which culminates in an unforgettable act that reveals both the absurdity and the tragedy of American racism.
Lawrence Burney – to support Revisiting Ramona, the feature-length documentary debut by the artist, writer and journalist about the East Baltimore neighborhood of his youth.
Marnie Ellen Hertzler – to support ETERNITY ONE, a feature-length film that imagines possible futures for a young girl and her small crabbing community on an island in the Chesapeake Bay as they face the immediate effects of the climate crisis.
Nate Larson – to support El Puente: On Juvenile Incarceration in Argentina, an empathetic documentary project using photography, oral history interviews, and direct collaboration to honor and empower incarcerated youth in Argentina.
NIA JUNE – to support What Goes Down When You Love Somebody, a visual poem and three-part episodic series illustrating milestones of Black love. It follows one family’s evolution through the decades with each episode set in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, all against the tapestry of a Baltimore row home.
Zara Kahan – to support Come Into My Arms, a film which follows a Filipino-American archivist on a quest to uncover the origins of a mysterious film, leading her to confront her repressed emotions over her abusive mother’s death while a dashing ghost from her homeland haunts her.
The jury also selected two additional, outstanding projects to receive the Rubys MicroGrants and access to the Rubys artist services:
Aditya Desai – to support Bombay, Oregon, a novel manuscript following two branches of a working class Gujarati American family across generations as they mourn loss and survive economic precarity.
S. M. Prescott – to support Already, Not Yet, a collaborative audio book of liturgies for trans lives and subsequent installation.
More information: Now in its tenth year, the Rubys Artist Grant Program has established itself as a vital opportunity for artists in the Baltimore region. The Rubys provide direct funding to individual artists, prioritizing new artistic endeavors, and the belief that artists should be paid for all parts of their creative work, not only for the final outcome.
Past recipients of the Rubys have achieved critical acclaim and received fellowships from prestigious institutions such as the Guggenheim Foundation, United States Artists, and Halcyon Arts Lab. They have also showcased their projects at renowned venues like the Maryland Film Festival, the Hirshhorn Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Rubys Artist Grant Program draws inspiration from the work of Creative Capital in New York City and is named in honor of its visionary founder, Ruby Lerner.
In its new phase, the Rubys Artist Grants, as part of the broader arts and culture grantmaking strategy of the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, aims to deepen its impact by providing more grants to a wider range of projects. Additionally, the grant program will provide professional development opportunities, network building, artist services and technical assistance for awardees.
The Rubys will partner with several Deutsch Foundation projects, such as Open Works, Motor House, BmoreArt, and Connect + Collect, to outfit awardees, when relevant to their work, with access to tools, technologies, equipment, performance, and event space, exposure, and dialogue. By supporting future projects holistically, the Rubys aim to support Baltimore’s creative community to enable artists to continue to have sustainable and successful careers.
The 2023 Rubys cycle introduces a new alumni grant program and recognizes a new, innovative project by former Rubys recipients. This grant kicks off what will be an annual commitment of this kind, available to former recipients of the Rubys Artist Grants. The Rubys, which up until this point has allowed re-application by former grantees, will, in 2024 and onward, be a one-time award. Alumni will have the opportunity to apply to one larger project grant, and smaller, professional development grants through the Rubys Alumni network. Look out for more information about this program toward the end of 2023.
This year’s alumni recipient is a collaboration between former Rubys grant recipients, Angela N. Carroll and Kibibi Ajanku: Sankofa Dance Theater: 30 Years of Music Movement and Folkways, a limited-edition coffee table book, reviews the work of Sankofa Dance Theater as a cultural ambassador that bridged communities between Baltimore and West Africa. This is the first publication to illuminate Black dance’s history in Baltimore.