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Still from Alumni Microgrant recipient Ariel Sobel’s film You Asked For It

Earlier this year we debuted our newest initiative: The Alumni Microgrant Program. With support from our Alumni Council, we were able to award four of our Alums monetary grants to help them with their creative projects. Check out what our Alums have been up to!

Karina Puente

Gold Grant Recipient

Karina’s Alumni Microgrant helped her attend two artist residencies. She used her Microgrant to purchase art supplies to make artwork at the Studios MASS MoCA in April and at the Women’s International Study Center, Santa Fe in May. During her residencies, Karina created five, 5’ x 15’ hand-cut, hand-dyed Papel Picado veils depicting underwater protagonists and ocean politics.

Papel Picado is the traditional Mexican folk art of cut paper. Karina intends to display this traditional art form via installation, presentation, and workshop. As Karina explains, “Papel Picado is often cut into colored tissue paper. The material I work with is a poly-fibrous cotton blend that is durable and can be hand dyed. This makes my work long lasting and speaks into the resiliency required for Latinx artists to turn their craft into careers.”

Karina’s Papel Picado artwork was displayed in flash installations at the Studios MASS Moca, North Adams; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and at the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe. She also gave presentations about the themes in her artwork and spoke with Joe Thompson, the CEO of MASS MoCA, about the “fleeting access to exhibition opportunities available to Women of Color in the art world.” Her formal presentation as a Women’s International Study Center Fellow-in-Residence (to the Museum of International Folk Art audience members) was about “the history of Papel Picado and how her contemporary practice is fortified by looking back at tradition.”

For Karina, the Alumni Microgrant experience was a huge success!

Ryan Lee Wong

Gold Grant Recipient

Ryan used his Microgrant to work on his novel, K Town Burning. He states that “the Microgrant has allowed me to both deepen my research into the L.A. unrest of 1992 and further my writing practice.”

Ryan’s Microgrant helped him during his Visiting Scholarship at the A/P/A Institute at NYU. While there, he was able to make use of the resources in the Bobst Library and in NYU’s online databases relating to the L.A. unrest. Ryan also traveled to Koreatown in Los Angeles to do research about the L.A. riots of 1992. He also connected with Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, which partners with the Asian American Oral History Collective “to understand 1992 within the larger story of Black-Korean relations.” Recently, Ryan participated in a workshop with Nodutdol.

Since receiving his Microgrant, Ryan has been accepted into the Kundiman Fiction Retreat, a VONA summer residency, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center with a Walker Scholarship. During the summer, Ryan will be surrounded by writers and writing teachers who will help deepen his “exploration of craft and narrative.” The Scholastic Awards Microgrant will help with Ryan’s living expenses during those residencies.

For Ryan, the Microgrant gave him “encouragement at a crucial moment in my life as an emerging writer and artist. I am excited to see where these pursuits lead.”

Pacifico Silano

Silver Grant Recipient

Install shot of a recent studio visit.

Install shot of a recent studio visit.

According to Pacifico, the Microgrant was awarded to him during a critical time in his professional development.

Pacifico used his Microgrant to have his photography professionally printed to create a portfolio that he can use when he meets with curators during studio visits. He also used the portfolio when meeting with potential book publishers.

The Microgrant helped Pacifico show prints to potential collaborators and he was able to work on producing a book of his prints with a small independent book publisher named Silent Face Publishing. Pacifico’s first artist book, Tear Sheets, will be published by Silent Face in the Fall of 2016.

Ariel Sobel

Silver Grant Recipient

Ariel used her Microgrant to work on her short film about a campus cruiser driver who goes on a rampage when she discovers the boy she has to drive home sexually assaulted her a few weeks earlier titled You Asked For It. Ariel’s film project included several shooting locations, scenes, and an original score.

“This project enlisted many people—a stunt coordinator, composer, director of photography, producer, sound editor, several production assistants, a make-up artist, assistant camera, assistant director, three principal actors, and ten film extras. The grant was utilized for pre-production and principal photography.

“The largest expenses that the grant covered were the rental of the “cruiser” and print of its decals which made the film authentic and doable, and the fees of our stunt coordinators, who charged in total $320. Stunt coordinators helped design and ensure the safety of our actors during a car chase scene and sexual assault scenes. We also bought lighting gels to create a fantastical look and feel, and rented necessary lighting equipment for larger areas, a dolly for more complex shots shown in our chase scene, a shutter for our camera for sunny days, and silk screens to soften lighting. All together we created a unique, candy colored effect that enhanced the dream-like feeling of an evening neither character could ever forget.”

Ariel’s film has been screened at the University of Southern California Eileen Norris Theater and will be submitted for various film festivals.

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