Brown Arts Institute

BAI Announces 2022 Dornstein Grant Winners

Nina Fletcher, Kate Hao, Rai Mckinley Terry, MC Vigilante, and Florence Wallis are this year's recipients of The David Dornstein ’85 Artist Grant that will help fund their respective creative projects.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – The Brown Arts Institute (BAI) announces the David Dornstein ’85 Artist Grant recipients. Nina Fletcher, Kate Hao, and Rai Mckinley Terry were selected to receive funding to support their proposed projects. Two additional recipients, MC Vigilante and Florence Wallis, received conditional funding, which will be awarded upon the completion of their studies in December 2022.

The David Dornstein ’85 Artist Grant was established to honor the creative legacy of David Dornstein ’85. The program is designed to create new energy and life around the arts at Brown University that will carry over each year by providing resources for exceptional and unique projects that serve as a “next step” for graduating seniors or graduate students. The award scope includes original artistic projects or creative research that would benefit from extended time or extended opportunity for travel, project design, or costs or experiences.

Nina Fletcher is an artist and filmmaker born and raised in Oregon. She has exhibited work in Providence, RI; Joshua Tree, CA; Los Angeles, CA; and Miami, FL. Her experimental public artwork, On Sand, was distributed across Providence in December 2021. Most recently, she was Director of Photography on the forthcoming short film Good Morning, I Love You (dir. Scott Magid), and wrapped production on her documentary project Only Fiction, about the Mojave Desert in Southern California. Fletcher believes in the interconnectedness of all things and watches Twilight (2008) when she’s homesick. Nina completed her undergraduate degree in Modern Culture and Media at Brown.

Fletcher’s project is the story of human-nature entanglement in Siskiyou County, California, a crash site where humans are ever more bound up with an idol of regulated and criminalized nature: the marijuana plant. Increasingly, local tensions over marijuana farming, water usage, rural identity, and political power are reaching a fever pitch. Against the backdrop of the summer harvest, this documentary will critically observe the languishing and compromised county government and call into question the efficacy of criminalization as a political strategy. Theo Whitcomb will co-direct.

Kate Hao is a poet and fiction writer, cultural worker, shy Leo, ex-pianist, soup enthusiast, and an aspiring morning person. Her writing has appeared in the Rumpus, Cosmonauts Avenue, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and more. Kate completed her master's degree in Public Humanities at Brown in May 2022.

Hao’s project, foundings+findings, is an archival activation project for the pandemic era. Through a workshop series and a digital travelog that draws on found poetry as its guiding method, this project will embark on a shared search for meaning in Asian American movement archives across the country. In its travels, it attends to the particularities of local histories to question the meaning of present-day Asian American identity. Using clippings of the past as communal source material, foundings+findings centers collective learning and discovery in the process of negotiating history and envisioning liberatory futures.

Rai Mckinley Terry is an audiovisual archivist, artist and scholar. They have completed a Master’s degree in Public Humanities at Brown University, where they are a fellow at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. They hold a Bachelor’s degree in Black Arts and Social Theory from Brandeis University. They have worked in moving image archives for four years and with multi-media arts for over a decade. Recently they held a fellowship with the Association of Moving Image Archivists. Their work largely explores the nature of archives as it relates to Black Feminist Studies and Queer theory. They are committed to engaging the ephemeral natures of history to explore, rupture and expand Black queer realities.

Terry’s project, Vibratory Tape: Black *Beyonding, is a series of audiovisual vignettes that utilize Black queer theoretical frameworks and archival theory toward illumination of the importance of the ephemeral, vibratory moments of Black life, which are rich with information.

MC Vigilante is an antidisciplinary art-making organism based in Providence, Rhode Island. MC’s digital paintings and experimental animations use compression as abstraction, presenting immaterial space as a site of potentiality. MC has recently exhibited work at the List Art Building, Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, and Brown Science Center in Providence, RI. Their debut solo exhibition, QUANTA: Reflections on [Im]material Selfhood, opened in March 2022 at the List Art Building. MC was born in upstate New York and was raised by the internet. MC is graduating with degrees in Visual Art and Biology from Brown University, where they are currently an animator at SciToons.

Vigilante’s project, Seven Months or Two Wet Feet, is a place-based exploration of power, abandonment, and refuge along the Erie Canal. Painterly digital images and experimental computer animations will present a contemporary, multi-hyphenate vision of the canal, informed by personal experiences and historical research. MC will travel the entirety of the Erie Canal, documenting thousands of sites and scenes using digital images, video, and sound. Through a transformative process of algorithmic image manipulation, these field recordings will become richly detailed compositions that blur the digital-tactile divide. In 2023, Seven Months or Two Wet Feet will be published as a gallery exhibition and an accompanying artist book.

Florence Wallis is a British-American writer, musician, researcher, and performer. Her work focuses on fungi, ecology, memory and the nature and history of language, through experimental poetics, music composition, production, and performance. She engages consistently in co-creation as a productive and resistant modality. Florence is currently a graduate student in the Digital and Cross-Disciplinary Literary Arts Program at Brown University.

Wallis’ project is an immersive, multi-media mycelial opera exploring the story of a Forager’s descent into our ecological crisis. Fungi have existed in our ecosystem for billions of years - they offer a complex and multi-directional understanding of our world that transcends linear progress. Inspired by this scale of time, she reaches into her own translations of 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian myths and their knowledge of environmental disaster. Fungi provide a means to create from within catastrophe so that we can re-imagine our future, our deep past and what we can do right now.

About Brown Arts Institute
The Brown Arts Institute (BAI) at Brown University seeks to cultivate creative expression and foster an interdisciplinary environment where faculty and students learn from one another and from artists and scholars in a wide range of fields across the campus and around the world. A consortium of six arts departments and two programs that encompass the performing, literary and visual arts, the BAI works collaboratively to enhance curricular and co-curricular offerings, directly engage students with prominent artists working in all genres and media, and supports a diverse program of concerts, performances, exhibitions, screenings, lectures, and symposia each year. The BAI seeks to build on Brown’s reputation as a destination for arts exploration, contributing to cultural enterprise through the integration of theory, practice, and scholarship with an emphasis on innovation and discovery that results from rigorous artmaking and experimentation