As the New Year begins to unfold, Hi-ARTS welcomes its newest cohort of residents for its signature CRITICAL BREAKS and SKYLAB residencies. Jay Délise, Germono Toussaint, and two collaborative duos — Zachariah Ezer & Dominique Rider and Brian Quijada and Nygel D. Robinson — join the CRITICAL BREAKS residency, which provides an intensive development process, rehearsal space, and a public offering (performance, experience or showing) of their choice to artists in a pivotal phase of creating new work.
Friday Lynton joins as an Artist-in-Residence for SKYLAB, a program that supports socially engaged artists who center community in the development and research of their work, including practitioners who create outside of the traditional studio or theater.
Hi-ARTS is New York City’s premier incubator for urban art, serving as a springboard for the next generation of cutting-edge theater, music, dance, visual art, and multi-disciplinary artists.
Core to Hi-ARTS’ mission — and reflective of this cohort — is to foster artists who engage Hip-Hop and urban aesthetics, especially Black artists and artists of the Global Majority, and to amplify their work within and beyond the organization’s home in East Harlem.
Among the award-winning artists that Hi-ARTS has supported are Radha Blank, Ebony Noelle Golden, Nona Hendryx, Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Dominique Morisseau, since its founding as the Hip-Hop Theater Festival (HHTF) in 2000.
“Our latest cohort brings such a vast array of talents and narratives that are the here and now of art in America,” said Hi-ARTS Executive Director Aaron L. McKinney. “We are looking forward to supporting them on their journey of discovery as they develop their bold new works, and we warmly welcome each of them into the Hi-ARTS family.”
Friday Lynton is a Brooklyn-based Guyanese-American Metal Artisan most acknowledged for conceptualizing elaborate metal objects (sculptures) for the body and home space. Her socially engaged process, Variables Pending, invites audiences and communities into the conversation as they join Lynton in the fabrication of a large-scale metal object.
Brian Quijada and Nygel D. Robinson are developing MEXODUS, a two-man, live-looped, hip-hop show inspired by the estimated 4,000 to 10,000 enslaved people in the South who pursued freedom in Mexico instead of looking north. Quijada is an actor, playwright and composer whose work has been seen, developed and produced across the country. Robinson is an NYC-based singer, actor, writer, and multi-instrumentalist.
Zachariah Ezer and Dominique Rider are a duo in search of the narrative arc of the slave in the tryptic An Unclear World: Experiments in Afropessimism. Using their academic and theatrical training, they use the medium of performance to create an aesthetic language for Afropessimism.
Germono Toussaint is a multi-award-winning composer, arranger, playwright, and producer. Through his residency he will focus on The Last Gatekeeper, a three-act, Afro-Futurist musical theater experience inspired by the teachings of West African shaman Malidoma Patrice Somé (January 30, 1956 – December 9, 2021). Touissant is no stranger to the Hi-ARTS community having worked as a composer with CRITICAL BREAKS alum Derek Lee McPhatter in 2017 on the development of the sci-fi theater experience Bring Back the Beat.
Jay Délise will work on &&&Art, a multimedia bouffon, or comedic farce, piece of documentary theater that laughs at the commercialization of the theater in America. Délise will collaborate with “expert” performing arts stage persona Sapphire Crauwtch.
Audiences can follow Hi-ARTS on social media @hiartsnyc and at hi-artsnyc.org to learn more about when and how to engage with these artists’ residencies and sharings in the coming months.
Hi-ARTS (www.hi-artsnyc.org, @hiartsnyc) is a leading cultural hub within the urban arts movement. Through artistic development residencies, vibrant multi-disciplinary creative programming, and civic engagement opportunities, Hi-ARTS empowers artists to develop bold new work while creating a positive, lasting impact on the community.
For more than twenty years, Hi-ARTS has provided unique development opportunities to artists from historically marginalized groups, primarily people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ artists, always placing issues of equity and social justice at the forefront.
To date, Hi-ARTS has supported works by more than 1000 emerging and acclaimed artists, including boundary-pushing early-career artists like Zoey Martinson and The Illustrious Blacks, award-winning theatrical mainstays like Dominique Morisseau and Kristoffer Diaz and visionaries such as Radha Blank, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Ebony Noelle Golden and Nona Hendryx.
Hi-ARTS is supported in part by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with Council Member Diana Ayala and the City Council, with additional support from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
Leadership support is provided by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, Ford Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, and David Rockefeller Fund. Additional support comes from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Emma A. Sheafer Charitable Trust, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Jerome Robbins Foundation, The Shubert Foundation and Lucille Lortel Foundation.
Photo credit: 1) Artists. 2) Artists.