Velocity Fund awards twelve Philadelphia projects $5,000 each for cutting edge art with communities

Now in its fourth year, The Velocity Fund, administered by Philadelphia Contemporary, continues to lead the field here in providing money to artists for experimental art projects in the community. Bravo to The Velocity Fund, and congratulations to this year’s 12 awardees!

Maria Dumlao holding red, green, and blue photo filters in front of her photo installation of three nature images that were digitally edited to be in the palette of purple, pink, and green, installed in 3 large window frames on the exterior of a brick building.
Maria Dumlao, “Lapu Lapu and The Death Of Magellan” (RG), 2018

The spirit propelling The Velocity Fund forward is one of deep concern for our city and its people, and trust in art to generate ideas and posit community solutions to some of our big problems — racism, social injustice, xenophobia and homophobia. This year’s awardees, who receive $5,000 each, will create a wide range of projects, all of them socially-engaged, deeply local and splendidly experimental. These projects move the bar forward for what art and artists can be in 2021.

The 2021 Velocity Fund grantees* (project descriptions below)

  • Wren Rene, The Command Center to Bring Women Home
  • Marcellus Armstrong, Talking Walls
  • Sanchel Brown, Wheelz of Life (C)
  • M. Asli Dukan, Penntrification
  • Maria Dumlao, Mas Masarap Magkasama (more delicious together)
  • Rami George, Virtues Vol. 1—Remixed and Reinterpreted
  • Elena Guzman, Smile4Kime
  • Wi-Moto Nyoka, Black Women Are Scary
  • Cesar Viveros, El Terreno: A Community Driven Garden to Table Initiative
  • Andrea Walls, The Museum of Black Joy (Phase 2)
  • Lori Waselchuk, Them That Do: Citizens All (working title)
  • Arien Wilkerson, LOVE8

*denotes lead artist

Awards are granted after review by a panel of experts in the arts. This years panelists were – James Claiborne, former Director of Programming, ‎African American Museum in Philadelphia, Kyle Dancewicz, Interim Director, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, New York, Kate McNamara, Providence-based Curator, Artist and Educator from The Interlace Grant Fund, and Arielle Julia Brown, Founder and Director of Black Spatial Relics, 2019 Velocity Fund Grantee and 2020 Added Velocity Grantee. Panelist James Claiborne, on the excellence of the candidate pool: “The work we encountered through this process truly showcased the vibrancy, diversity and resilience of the Philadelphia cultural sector, and reaffirmed the inherent collaborative spirit that so many of us value and uphold through our work and creative pursuits.”

The Velocity Fund is a part of the re-granting program of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, administered in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Contemporary. Commenting on this year’s projects, Warhol Foundation’s Program Director, Rachel Bers said, “The Velocity Fund offers important support to Philadelphia artists as they engage with, intervene into, and push against the boundaries of what is possible in our cultural moment.” Founding Director and CEO of Philadelphia Contemporary, Harry Philbrick, added his praise, “It is an honor for all of us at Philadelphia Contemporary to serve and support these artists in realizing their vision through the Velocity Fund. We are grateful to the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for their generous support.”

Arien Wilkerson, a Black man with a shaved head, staring into the camera and holding a bouquet of flowers in his mouth in a dark, foggy room with red lighting.
Arien Wilkerson, “Tnmot Aztro ‘lovepiece'” Image by Joe Condren 2019.

2021 Velocity Fund Project Descriptions

Wren Rene and Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich
The Command Center to Bring Women Home
Our film re-imagines what re-entry could look like if it were designed by formerly incarcerated women. “The Command Center to Bring Women Home” is an imagined space run by and for formerly incarcerated women, created collaboratively with three Philly women who survived juvenile life sentences. Upon its release, the filmmakers will partner with local artists and women in re-entry to design an impact and engagement strategy that models new ways to break cycles of harm and find new kinds of justice.

Marcellus Armstrong and Raishad M. Hardnett
Talking Walls
Talking Walls is an audio-visual oral history project centering the narratives of queer and Black elders. With recorded interviews and documentation of subjects who have resided in one location for 15 years or longer, the project will culminate into an experimental documentary film where queer elders discuss perspectives on home and personal sanctuaries. The project will include people located in the cities of Philadelphia, New York, and Detroit, with hopes of expanding with ongoing support.

Arien Wilkerson with Domenic Pellegrini, Karim Rome, Zach Rowden, Jon-Paul LaRocco
Love8 is a time based installation performance, with a series of small convening’s held at Vox Populi/Icebox Project Space. Derived conceptually from the 8 Greek types of love, Love8 takes its audience through the specific emotional/mental labor black HIV positive people utilize when building/strengthening personal, family and romantic relationships. Through performance exploration we uncover how black/brown LGBTQIA people evolve through partnerships we choose, and what roles we live in and dismantle.

Lori Waselchuk
Them That Do: Citizens All (working title)
Them That Do: Citizens All is an idea-sharing publication and pop-up exhibition that will prioritize local knowledge and share resources for reclaiming our right to shared space and loving co-existence. Introducing new voices into the public conversation about community and communality, Citizens All will be illustrated, co-written, and produced in collaboration with Philadelphia community stewards and activists. The exhibition will be shown at a Philadelphia Free Library neighborhood branch, block parties and community events.

Elena Guzman
Smile4Kime is an experimental film that uses animation and live action footage to tell a story of how two friends transcend time, space, and even death to find hope and resilience through their struggles with mental illness. Rather than insisting that Black women should depend on failing systems rooted in white supremacy and patriarchy, the film uplifts Black women’s resilience through the radical care of friendship and ancestral spirituality.

Sanchel Brown
Wheelz of Life (C)
“Wheelz of Life” is a musical on rollerskates highlighting the esoteric parallel realities beyond the usual narrative of black death. This unique story offers new possibilities for theater to take place in roller rinks across America.

Maria Dumlao with Bahay215
Mas Masarap Magkasama (more delicious together)
Maria Dumlao, in collaboration with FilipinX group, Bahay215, will create interactive, site-specific installations in the Schuylkill Center’s gallery and on its trails. It will include prints and engraved sculptures which frame spaces for in-person events and point to invasive and native plants that can be adapted in ancestral Filipino recipes. Exploring diasporic desire for belonging, food and familial recipe exchanges become vehicles for storytelling while balancing sustainability for our environment, and the preservation of culture.

Cesar Viveros
El Terreno: A Community Driven Garden to Table Initiative
I would like to lead a 3-part cultural workshop series around heritage foodways in collaboration with the Cesar Andreu Iglesias Community Garden. Workshops will focus on how to harvest, prepare, cook, & consume the culturally meaningful foods of indigenous Mexican communities. Key to these workshops is the idea that food, culture, and medicine are interdependent: when we consume nutritious foods steeped in the traditions of our ancestors, we better connect with our history and health. @cesarmural

Rami George
Virtues Vol. 1—Remixed and Reinterpreted
This project is a remix of a ten track EP, “Virtues Vol. 1”, created in collaboration with Joel Midden. The original EP consists of a series of sonic interpretations of esoteric line drawings produced by the Samaritan Foundation—a New Age religious cult my mother was involved with in the early 1990s. For the remix project, we will invite 10 experimental musicians to remix/re-interpret the tracks of this EP.

Andrea Walls
The Museum of Black Joy (Phase 2)
The Museum of Black joy is a multidisciplinary, multidimensional, and multi-platform experience reflecting/promoting non-traumatic Black Life in Philadelphia and beyond.

M. Asli Dukan
Penntrification tells the story of the University of Pennsylvania’s gentrification of West Philadelphia and how its aggressive property expansion and wealth hoarding has burdened its historic Black community. We follow Wanda, a fictional, third generation Black Philadelphian as she shares how her entire life has been affected by the powerful tax-exempt institution. We learn how her dreams for Philadelphia’s future could be realized if UPenn equitably distributed its resources.

Wi-Moto Nyoka
Black Women Are Scary
Black Women Are Scary (BWAS) is a radio-dramatic podcast that celebrates and produces short horror stories by BIPOC authors. Spear-headed by Dusky Projects, it is a hub for new horror writers and for the listeners that want to know them. The project includes monthly audio productions and interactive virtual showcases that feature BIPOC creators in genre work. Their second season will be directed by Kennedy Allen of Black Tribbles, with sound design by Gabe Castro of The Ghouls Next Door.

Video still, showing the corner of an ashtray, an 'NY Writers Coalition' pen, and two sets of photos, in which one Black man appears in both. In one, he is posing and smiling with another Black man in a photo booth. In the other, he is posing with another Black man and a Black woman, and they are smiling and making silly faces.
Marcellus Armstrong, Still from collaborator Raishad M. Hardnett’s, “Hard To Love,” 2021

More information about The Velocity Fund

Established with the support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Velocity Fund is one of numerous Regional Regranting programs launched by the foundation to fund “under-the-radar artistic activity” by partnering with leading cultural institutions in cities across the nation where the level of self-organized artistic activity is the highest. It is administered by Philadelphia Contemporary.

Applications were reviewed by a distinguished panel of arts administrators, curators and artists: James Claiborne, former Director of Programming, ‎African American Museum in Philadelphia, Kyle Dancewicz, Interim Director, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, New York, Kate McNamara, Providence-based Curator, Artist and Educator from The Interlace Grant Fund, and Arielle Julia Brown, Founder and Director of Black Spatial Relics, 2019 Velocity Fund Grantee and 2020 Added Velocity Grantee.

This year’s grantees proposed a wide range of projects – from time-based installation performances to experimental animated films: musicals on rollerskates to interactive nature walks focusing on food heritage. What these projects share is a connection to communities throughout Philadelphia, an ethos of collaboration, and innovative visions of outreach in the midst of on-going change.

As panelist Kate McNamara noted: “I feel honored to have glimpsed the broad spectrum of Philadelphia artists through the Velocity Fund grant cycle, and I am thrilled with the final selection of grantees, whose work reflects some of the hopefulness and re-imagining this critical and historical moment in time calls for.”

Kyle Dancewicz elaborates, “Collaboration is often portrayed as a value in its own right, but the artists and groups selected to receive Velocity Fund grants this year show that collaboration can and should be a rigorously interrogated dimension of a practice with a range of important outcomes, from discrete artworks and performances, to interdisciplinary learning, to meaningful public engagement.”

Due to continued health guidance prohibiting large gatherings, we will not be holding a public reception to celebrate the 2021 Velocity Fund grantees at this time. Stay tuned for a Spring 2022 celebration.

About Philadelphia Contemporary

Founded in 2016, Philadelphia Contemporary presents visual art, performance art, and spoken word across the city of Philadelphia. A nomadic contemporary art organization with ambitions to establish a freestanding, globally oriented and locally aware non-collecting arts institution, Philadelphia Contemporary has pioneered a vibrant and sustainable model based on partnerships and collaborations. Having commenced pop-up programming in October 2016, Philadelphia Contemporary continues to develop an ambitious roster of projects that will be mounted in the coming years.

About The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Regional Regranting Program

The Regional Regranting Program was established in 2007 to recognize and support the movement of independently organized, public-facing, artist-centered activity that animates local and regional art scenes but that lies beyond the reach of traditional funding sources. The program is administered by non-profit visual art centers across the United States that work in partnership with the Foundation to fund artists’ experimental projects and collaborative undertakings.

The 32 regranting programs provide grants of up to $10,000 for the creation and presentation of new work. Programs are developed and facilitated by organizations in Alabama, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Knoxville, New Orleans, Newark, Oklahoma, Omaha, Philadelphia, Phoenix & Tucson (AZ), Portland (OR), Portland (ME), Providence, Raleigh & Greensboro (NC), Saint Louis, San Francisco, San Juan, PR, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

Velocity Fund grantee Maria Dumlao was recently a guest on Artblog Radio! Check out Maria Dumlao uses color politically in her phenomenal work ‘History in RGB’, hosted by Logan Cryer, to learn more.