We are really excited to welcome eight amazing artists from the US and Canada for Soul Sanctuary this week. Take a look at the bios of these incredible folks and be inspired by their work as we are. Soul Sanctuary is organized and guided by local Durham artist and activist Ellen O’Grady.
[photo by Julia C. Smith, participant in Soul Sanctuary 2011]
CATHERINE EDGERTON, Durham NC
Catherine is a queer artist and musician who is working on developing her relationship between the arts and social justice work. She is committed to living in, creating with, and serving a diverse community of people who work to transform critical ideas into social change. Catherine was born and raised in Durham, where she feels very rooted and present. She currently volunteers with El Kilombo and the Durham bike co-op. Catherine’s friends and family are incredibly important to her, as is her dog, whose name is Harvey-Sue.
DOMINIC BRADLEY, Brooklyn NY
Dominic is a multimedia artist, grassroots activist, and licensed social worker. He just finished a tenure with NYU’s EMERGENYC program and is currently organizing around sexual violence in communities of African descent. He volunteers with an organization called Black Women’s Blueprint and recently performed in a BWB production named Mother Tongue Monologues that explored black female sexuality and black sexual politics in front of an audience of approximately 300 community members. Dominic also helped plan an emotional justice- themed community asset mapping workshop for a companion event entitled Catharsis. He is working closely with other volunteers to host a parallel meeting to the UN Commission on the Status of Women as well as to develop follow-up/follow through community workshops during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
INDEE MITCHELL, Philadelphia, PA/New Orleans, LA
Indee is a Queer, gender fluid performance artist interested in exploring the connections between identity, healing, and art. A southern storyteller to the core, they understand social justice activism as a key tenant to her artistry and being. He is a mover, speaker, thinker, healer, creator wanting to hold space and visibility for those who understand their self beyond binaries and static boxes.
JODI LASSETER, Durham NC
Jodi brings her expertise in facilitation, training and participatory methods to her ongoing work in various education and environmental justice movements. Her work at Spirit in Action centers on coordinating two national networks–the Education Circle of Change and HOME (Healing Our Movement Ecosystem)—and working with the SiA team to provide organizational development and innovative workshops to grassroots organizations. Originally from the mountains of North Carolina, Jodi has pursued her passion for positive social transformation through the use of music, singing and ritual in movement-building spaces.
KIM CROSBY, Toronto Ontario
Kim is a queer femme, survivor, mixed race, Venezualan Arawak, Indian, Scottish, Afro –Dominicana born in Trinidad, living in Toronto. She is a writer, educator, activist, facilitator, consultant, social entrepreneur and yoga instructor as well as an award-winning multidisciplinary artist. She has spoken on panels and conferences nationally as well as facilitated radical community dialogues including Queer As Black Folk hosted by The Black Daddies Club and was the keynote speaker at the 2011 Unity Conference. She is also one of the owners of Toronto’s Glad Day Bookstore, North America’s oldest independent bookstore serving the LGBT community. Kim is a core member of the nationally touring Lesbian Blues group, a collective of Black Queer Folks committed to decolonization through creative political performance as well as T-Dot Renaissance, a wave of cultural and artistic collaborations for this generation of emerging artists of colour. She creates to heal and stay alive.
NANCY KATES, Berkeley CA
Nancy is the producer/director of the feature-length documentary Regarding Susan Sontag, currently in post-production. She co-produced and directed the documentary Brother Outsider: the Life of Bayard Rustin, which premiered in competition at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and on the national PBS series “POV.” The film went on to win more than 25 awards worldwide, including the 2004 GLAAD Media Award. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, hiking, cross-country skiing, volunteering, and annual adventures in jam-making.
PINA RUSSELL, Brooklyn NY
Stephanie JT Russell, “Pina,”is an executive strategist, published author, educator, and working artist with over 25 years’ experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. She is a seasoned practitioner of conflict resolution and group dynamics disciplines, and uses her skills to build relationships with clients for Board, executive and staff development; fundraising; project and program design; literary communications craft, art direction and publishing; and identity re-branding. In the late 1980s, Pina co-created Soul To Soul Teleconferencing Network, the first pre-Internet video teleconferencing system for the New York City Board of Education, connecting three inner-city schools in New York City’s Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. A longtime sustainability and peacebuilding advocate, Pina has been a consultant to Religions for Peace (a United Nations NGO), The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, and AfriCares. As Executive Director of Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland, she oversaw exhibits and multidisciplinary programming serving a 1,000-member artists community and a public constituency of over 70,000 regional residents. Pina has consulted for Bay Area clients such as PEN Oakland, and The City of Oakland Public Art Program. She also consulted with Project for Public Spaces, an international urban-redevelopment organization. As a working artist, Pina has exhibited and performed at world-class venues and has published nine books.
VANESSA HUANG, Oakland CA
Vanessa Huang is a poet, cultural worker, and activist whose practice inherits teachings from the prison abolition, migrant justice, gender liberation, transformative justice, disability justice, and reproductive justice movements. Currently, Vanessa takes refuge in the breath aliveness of song through voice and cello and is stewarding the completion of a first poetry collection, quiet of chorus, which was a finalist for Poets & Writers’ California Writers’ Exchange Award. Vanessa’s poetry and writings have appeared in numerous collections. Through letters, the Internet, performance, rallies, and letterpress printing, this poetry has stood-sat with courage hearts including California’s prison hunger strikers, Miss Major, Marilyn Buck, Troy Davis, Cece McDonald, and a range of life-affirming collaborations including the Free Shifa campaign in Atlanta, campaigns/organizing against transphobic violence and discrimination in NYC, and Oakland’s first general strike since 1946.