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