Okwui Okpokwasili

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Creative Futures Artist-in-Residence

Building a platform for the creation of an ongoing improvisational song

Okwui Okpokwasili is building a collective sonic practice as part of her Creative Futures residency, which revolves around the question “What do you carry, and how in turn does that carry you?” This project is meant to create space for individual reflection about what we consciously hold and how this “held thing” resides within us and moves us each forward. Part of the practice is to bring this knowledge into a collective space, where an assembled group can learn from each other.  

“I hope that this work builds deeper connections with the artists who are part of the larger Chapel Hill community, who might find that they might not be seen or feel welcome in some of these spaces [and that it will help people] recognize how vital arts practices are to a strong, sustainable, and healthy community.”

Okwui Okpokwasili, from “Making the Future

For this project, Okwui is working with the Saxapahaw-based Culture Mill to identify collaborators in the Triangle area, who will help inform the project and guide others through the practice. Her faculty collaborator is Sharon Holland, convener of the Critical Ethnic Studies Collective at UNC-Chapel Hill, co-chair of the Provost’s LGBTQ Life Committee. and Chair of the Department of American Studies.

In fall 2020, Okwui visited Culture Mill for a socially distanced outdoor workshop that explored how best to structure and facilitate this practice for others. 

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