Local artistic projects awarded Rocket Grants; ceremony in Kansas City to celebrate recipients

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Creators working on video series, research, fashion shows and performances based in Lawrence and Kansas City have been chosen to receive grants that will help progress their art.

Local artists who are producing innovative, public-oriented artistic projects each year are awarded Rocket Grants as part of a partnership between the Spencer Art Museum in Lawrence and Charlotte Street in Kansas City.

This year’s recipients are addressing a range of topics, from promoting local music to commentating on fatalities related to pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum, according to a KU news release.

Rocket Grants aim to provide funding to independent artwork being developed outside of art galleries, museums and districts that communities at large can benefit from.

“Rocket Grants promise new experiences in unexpected places this year,” Saralyn Reece Hardy, Spencer Museum director, said in the news release. “It is especially inspiring to see the commitment to community and place through many forms of art-making in our region. Projects demonstrate adventurous and imaginative latitude roaming through visual art, music, collective celebration, theater and poetry.”

The 2023 Rocket Grants have awarded $6,000 each to 10 projects. Two awards support Lawrence-based projects, including the planting of fruit trees around Lawrence Public Library accompanied by music by artists Skyler Adamson and Hazlett Henderson, as well as a new play by Timmia Hearn DeRoy that highlights childbirth and pregnancy around the world.

A jury of artists and nonprofit leaders selected recipients from a competitive pool of 77 applicants, according to the release.

The 2023 Rocket Grants recipients include:

• “Fruit Tree Community Choir” by Skyler Adamson and Hazlett Henderson: A celebration of planting community fruit trees around Lawrence Public Library, accompanied by a collective song;


• “On Born Children and Ghosts” by Timmia Hearn DeRoy: A new play that speaks to local and international experiences of pregnancy and childbirth;

• “Flew the Coop Sessions” by Cody Boston: A live music video series that provides local artists with high-quality video and audio recordings of their performances;

• “Kawsmouth River Carnival” by Jac Danger, Matthew Lloyd and Kimmon Smutz: A playful, interactive festival on the Missouri River with an immersive art experience for the Kansas City community;

• “The KC Queertet Live Video Series” by Adee Dancy: A string quartet dedicated to uplifting and accompanying queer musical artists in Kansas City;


• “Poetry Takes (P)residence” by Rhiannon Dickerson: A micro-residency for regional poets of color, amplifying LQBTQIA, female, immigrant and rural voices;

• “Seasons and Cycles” by Kyle Jones and Paul Berlinsky: A public concert in February 2024 at the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium;

• “Kansas City’s Removal Act: The Reckoning on Andrew Jackson Monuments” by Neysa Page-Lieberman: A community-centered research project that explores the reckoning of Andrew Jackson monuments in the Kansas City-area;

• “The Black Farmer’s 2 Dilemmas” by Ryan Tenney: A performance at Sankara Farm, a Black, family-owned and operated agro-ecological farm in Kansas City;


• and “The Trendsetters: Teen Fashion Showcase with Social Impact” by Remy Wharry: A series of eight monthly workshops with high school students, followed by a fashion showcase at 18th and Vine in Kansas City.

Mona Cliff, artist and former Rocket Grants recipient based in Lawrence; Eureka Gilkey, executive director at Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas; Blanca Herrada, an artist based in Lawrence; and Thomas James, curator and executive director at The Last Resort Artist Retreat in Baltimore, served as jurors this cycle, according to the release.

The 2023 Rocket Grant Awards Ceremony to celebrate the recipients is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6 at Charlotte Street Stern Theater, 3333 Wyoming St. in Kansas City, Missouri. Tickets are free and can be reserved on the awards ceremony’s Eventbrite page.

Visit rocketgrants.org for more information about Rocket Grants.

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