The Mount is pleased to be one of six regional cultural hubs selected as part of an exciting new pilot project, and has selected Lia Russell-Self as our Artist-in-Residence.

Community Project:

Lia Russell-Self will engage with young, queer people of color in the Berkshires in their own liberation. They will utilize poetry and lead exercises connecting participants with the land and nature in ways that speak to spiritual, mental, and physical well-being to encourage creative expression. This series of workshops will be hosted in collaboration with The Mount and local nature organization The Rusty Anvil.

This project will also acknowledge the historical and contemporary disparities regarding access to land and barriers to participation in outdoor healing and connection with nature.

Lia will also use this time to continue their own writing and develop plans for a living archive to give voice and digital space to marginalized people in our community. Lia plans to use Instagram and other social media platforms to encourage wider engagement beyond direct workshop participants. Follow along at @reclaim_your_liberation.

Originally from Stone Mountain, Georgia, Lia Russell-Self (they/them/their) is a multifaceted weaver of stories, often grappling with juxtaposed theories and the unexpected. Their current work grapples with how identities, imposed and claimed, can spark the loud secrets we keep best hidden. Lia can often be found in the theatre in the hills that join Massachusetts and New York, whether performing on stage, creating brave spaces for oppressed peoples, or teaching young dreamers like themselves to do the same.

Lia is affiliated with numerous small performance ensembles that stretch throughout New England, including WAM Theatre, Black Shakespeare Project, Eighty4 Productions, and the rig.

ARTISTS AT WORK (AAW)

Inspired by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, ARTISTS AT WORK (AAW) is a new program designed to give artists resources to continue to produce work during the immediate health and economic crisis brought by COVID, and to build new structures and partnerships that will help to sustain the creative sector in a post-pandemic America. Conceived in collaboration with the FreshGrass Foundation as a public/private partnership that combines government, corporate, and foundation support, AAW is a WPA for the arts reimagined into a modern context that is sensitive to the 21st century landscape (now drastically changed) of every artistic discipline’s place in the culture.

Artists At Work’s goals are to give a significant number of artists a living wage to continue to make work, to activate cultural institutions in support of that work, to put that work into the public sphere for free to audiences (and in doing so to boost local economies), and to connect artists and cultural organizations to local initiatives in areas like youth mental health, suicide prevention, food justice, prison reform, youth at risk, and campaigns for COVID awareness in communities of color, and other  civic engagements with the aim of fostering healthy communities. AAW provides a dynamic and flexible structure for funding to flow into the cultural sector with substantive, immediate, and tangible impacts for individual artists, institutions, and the general public—outcomes that will help art and artists to survive, and also embed the arts more deeply into communities to the benefit of society as a whole.

For more information, visit artists-at-work.org.