The Immigrant Artist Biennial launches on Kickstarter

Screen Shot 2019-11-26 at 4.38.48 PMThe USA was created by immigrants and they have and are shaping its culture and history. The Immigrant Artist Biennial (TIAB) launching in March 2020 wants to “celebrate the important contributions immigrant artists have made and continue making to the culture at large in the U.S.” says Katya Grokhovsky, its founding Director and Curator.

TIAB is a multi-disciplinary large-scale exhibition of critically engaged contemporary art made by US based immigrant artists from around the world to be presented in New York City every two years. “At the time of anti-immigrant sentiment, it is especially important to me to stand with immigrant creators and send a positive message, reminding the world, that immigration is one of our greatest assets.” declares Katya Grokhovsky.

TIAB will form a worldwide community through exhibition of ambitious visual multimedia projects, performances, and series of public events, with an aim to facilitate diverse experimental discourse at a time of unrest, discrimination, and exclusion.

The first iteration of the biennial will present a selection of 20-40 local and national immigrant artists with an upcoming open call for artists. Its goal is to attract a diverse audience, both within existing art world networks and broader immigrant and multicultural communities nationally and internationally. The team aims at expanding to a multi-venue series of exhibitions and events with larger numbers of artists and multiple curatorial teams, as well as presentations of art made by seminal and historic immigrant artists who have greatly contributed to American and global art and culture as we know it today.

The project is currently running a Kickstarter campaign with a party for backers on December 10th with a VIP Reception in New York with the curator and team featuring a special performance by Lemon Guo. The reception is followed by a party and silent auction. Busy on Dec 10th? You can donate instead on kickstarter with the goal to raise $10K by December 13th, 2019.

The team behind the Biennial is an all-female team (Katya Grokhovsky, Mary Annunziata, Allison Cannella, Teona Yamanidze, Alexandra Sullivan, Anna Mikaela Ekstrand, and Juana Urrea). with fiscal sponsorship provided by New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). I’ve had the chance to chat with Katya Grokhovsky and Anna Mikaela Ekstrand who shared about the project and their goals.

Learn more about the project and their work below, or on their website and Instagram and spread the word 🙂

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Installation by Yali Romagoza

Screen Shot 2019-11-26 at 4.39.27 PMKatya Grokhovsky, Founding Director and Curator, The Immigrant Artist Biennial

What inspired you to launch to this project?

Katya Grokhovsky: The inspiration behind The Immigrant Artist Biennial comes from my own personal narrative of double migration, from Ukraine to Australia , Australia to the US, as well as my work as a mentor for many years in NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program. I saw potential and a large gap in the city for establishing  significant platform, which highlights immigrant voices specifically in visual arts.

What is your goal/ message ?
KG: My goal is to celebrate the important contributions immigrant artists have made and continue making to the culture at large in the U.S. and to elevate and expose excluded and unrecognized voices. At the time of anti-immigrant sentiment, it is especially important to me to stand with immigrant creators and send a positive message, reminding the world, that immigration is one of our greatest assets.

How did your personal story influenced your artistic career?
KG: Immigrating at the age of 15 from Ukraine to Australia and at 30 to the U.S. has changed the course of my life dramatically, and in turn, entirely changed my career. I would not be an artist and a curator/organizer that I am today without also, being an immigrant. The drastic split of cultures, languages and identities is a source of most of my work and goals.

It’s an all female team. is it a happy coincidence or a statement?

KG: It’s mostly a statement, I am a feminist and am interested in mainly working with women, female identifying and non binary people, although I am happy working with anyone who believes and supports our mission and is willing to donate their time, ideas and resources. We are all volunteers until we can raise enough money to support our labor. Having said that, a lot of male artists approach us only with interest to participate in the biennial, not to help out behind the scenes, and this is of course a well known problem in general. Women are taking care of the world, for free, unseen. Let me just say, that the biennial will always exhibit 70% female identifying artists to 30% male.

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Anna Mikaela Ekstrand, Curatorial Advisor /Head of Partnerships, Founder of Cultbytes


How did you get involved in the project?
Anna Mikaela Ekstrand: I joined TIAB’s team thanks to Mary Annunziata who is the project’s artist liaison and a friend. I have been aspiring to work on a biennial, basically, a large scale conceptually and theoretically grounded visionary project for some time so when Mary told me about TIAB I was immediately drawn to the project. As my past curatorial work has been centered on performance art, decolonial thought, race, and feminisms TIAB was a good fit for me and I greatly enjoy helping Katya develop, expand, and realize her vision.
What is your particular role in the team?
AME: I am an advising curator meaning that I introduce Katya to artists, identify and negotiate institutional partners, and will take part in reviewing submissions for the artist’s open call. However, as this is a grassroots artist and volunteer-led project I have found myself wearing many hats. To bolster our Kickstarter campaign I have created a Benefits Committee. This is a dedicated group of TIAB supporters who in addition to donating can be further involved in the project and who will be able to gain some behind-the-scenes insights through studio visits and events. We are mobilizing and building a community of supporters to realize this project and it is challenging but also rewarding as it allows us to further contextualize our topics and themes with input from our audience. Please support us and join our community by coming to our Kickstarter Backers’ Party on December 10th!
You founded Cultbytes, an online platform covering contemporary art and beyond. Can you share about its mission?
AME: Being a woman and because of my mixed-race and multi-cultural heritage, I am interested in championing diversity and feminist practices in the arts. In terms of editorial, I aspire to stay true to our mission by providing our readers with qualitative content and to foster growth for emerging talent, not only artists and curators but also gallerists and organizers engaged in artist-centric and visionary projects. Many of those we highlight are immigrants! Although I like to publish content driven by the art critics and contributors these are my guiding principles for Cultbytes overall. Therefore, Cultbytes fully supports TIAB and its artists.

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Donate on kickstarter by December 13th, 2019.

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