Meet the Constellations Fellows!
Having the opportunity to meet our intentions with on the ground action is an honor for the Constellations Culture Change Fund & Initiative that was imagined and designed by BIPOC grassroots cultural practitioners from the ground up. Our mission is a bold one: to support and build collective power among BIPOC Artist Disruptors, Culture Bearers, and cultural strategy organizations working at the intersections of art, culture and social justice to accelerate a shift in worldview from domination to liberation, collaboration, care and interdependence.
Artist Disruptors and Culture Bearers are incredibly agile, not only in responding to injustice and holding a mirror reflecting our worldviews, but also in imagining new possibilities and breathing life into them. They help us visualize and manifest a future rooted in liberation, and accelerate critical societal changes; yet, they are systematically under-resourced and overburdened, lacking field infrastructure and supportive spaces to build. To achieve narrative power and cultural justice, they need long-term flexible funding, sustainable community networks, and the space to fully experiment and take risks.
The Constellations Fellowship, housed at The Center for Cultural Power, and supported in part by the California Arts Council, is an 18-month experience that runs from February 2023 through July 2024 and will impact the lives of 10 community creators we’re now proud to have within our growing network.
Throughout their fellowship, each Artist Disruptor & Culture Bearer will experience an accelerated shift in their community-based practices by receiving a full-time salary and generous benefits. Financial support is critical and so is safeguarding culture for future generations. Because of this, it’s imperative that our fellows continue to be grounded in their neighborhoods and homelands. Through partnerships with a cultural organization of their choice, our incredible fellows will work to create place-based projects and cultural practices that continue to build narrative change in their communities.
We were inspired by the many wonderful applications we received, and the powerful activations, projects, and concepts which are being created across the country. We extend our gratitude to each applicant and ask that you all continue to be change makers and thought leaders within your communities. Our community advocates and leaders deserve to be celebrated, and we are pleased to announce our 2023-2024 Artist Disruptors and Culture Bearers who were selected for our current fellowship:
- Katie Ka Vang (she/they) is a Hmong American playwright and writer of scripts based in St. Paul, Minnesota. As an Artist Disruptor and Culture Bearer, her work magnifies the nuances of communities and cultures and explores diaspora narratives. It is grounded in the heart and aims for systems change. Katie will be partnering with Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, an organization that provides artist residencies and cultural workshops to preserve and promote the Mexica Nahuatl Indigenous arts and traditions. Website | Instagram | Twitter
Mariah Gladstone (she/they) is a Culture Bearer residing on the Blackfeet Nation on the Rocky Mountain front. She is dedicated to preserving and re-imagining traditional Indigenous food knowledge and will be working with Fast Blackfeet to reconnect Indigenous people with the stories of our food systems. Website | Instagram | Twitter
Leonard Bruce (he/him) is a member of the Gila River Indian Community and a graduate of Arizona State University. His work is focused around his homelands at Gila River but also touches other Indigenous spaces on the urban periphery. His main focus has been delving into decolonizing employment, increasing social and economic mobility, and finding ways that Indigenous peoples can leverage technology to build resilience. He will be working with Three Precious Miracles, using his time in the fellowship to develop materials that are at the intersection of technology and local historical knowledge.
Keala Kahuanui (she/her) is an educator and a cook aboard Hawaiian voyaging canoes. Based in Kamuela, Hawaii, she will be working with Nā Kālai Waʻa, whose mission is to protect, perpetuate and honor the Indigenous Hawaiian traditions and practices of wa`a (canoe) culture through the Makali`i voyaging canoe programs, for the past, present, and future generations.
Nansi Guevara (she/her) is a textile/rasquache-based artist, illustrator & teacher based in Brownsville, Texas. Her work focuses on growing border community networks of resistance and support, crafting spaces of reflection and solace, and shifting false narratives of the South Texas border. She will be working with Trucha, an independent multimedia platform dedicated to the people, culture, and social movements of the Rio Grande Valley, centering queer and migrant communities of color. Website | Instagram
Charmaine Minniefield (she/her) is firmly rooted in womanist social theory and ancestral veneration, and draws from Indigenous traditions as seen throughout Africa and the Diaspora, to explore African and African-American history, memory, and ritual as an intentional push back against erasure. She currently splits her time in residence between Atlanta and The Gambia and will be working with The Historic District Development Commission during the fellowship to bring her work of Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives to a national audience. Website | Instagram | Twitter
Cece Carpio (she/her) uses acrylic, ink, aerosol, and installations, to tell stories of immigration, ancestry, collective movements, and narratives of resilience using acrylic, ink, aerosol, and installations, She paints everyday people who have been invincible in order to share their thriving presence and to show the dignity and power of their existence. Based in Alameda County, California, she will be working with Sogorea Te’ Land Trust throughout the fellowship. Website | Instagram
Jason Pereira (he/him) is a graphic artist and muralist of Samoan and Portuguese descent, currently residing in Orange County, California. He serves the Pacific Islander community through Visual Arts and will be working with Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum during the fellowship to uplift the decolonized stories of our Pacific Islander relatives. Instagram
Amy Stretten (she/they) is a bilingual, Chickahominy, Black/Indigenous, queer Femme, journalist, and creative entrepreneur. Known as The Chief of Style, Amy creates cultural fashion content and encourages people of all shapes and sizes to love themselves and their bodies exactly as they are. She is based in Los Angeles County, California, and will be partnering with United American Indian Involvement throughout the fellowship. Website | Instagram | Twitter
Adam Perez (they/he) is an award-winning independent photographer and filmmaker, based in Exeter, CA. His work centers on intimate stories that reveal the nuances of race, gender, identity, and culture. Previously, Adam was an Emerson Fellow working on a photo and video project about how the pandemic has devastated marginalized communities in California's Central Valley, which produces one-fourth of the country's food. During the fellowship, he will be working with The Central Valley Empowerment Alliance. Website | Instagram
We encourage you to follow all of the fellows and the organizations and to subscribe to our Constellations newsletter to stay informed on the incredible projects that will be supported through the Fellowships!
To learn more about Constellations Culture Change Fund & Initiative, visit constellationsfund.org, and follow The Center for Cultural Power on Instagram and Twitter.