The Immigrant Artist Biennial (TIAB) is set to launch in March 2020 in NYC! CREATRIX Magazine has interviewed the founder Katya Grokhovsky about her vision and mission for this interdisciplinary initiative.
Featured photo Yali Romagoza, The Mistress of Loneliness (Chapter 1 :The Departure), 2019, video still
Introduction by Juana Urrea
When it comes to immigrants and migration, stereotypes and misrepresentations permeate the media daily. It is also so broad of a concept that attempting to define it would be a lengthy research project in and of itself. There are so many different types of migrations and borders that are crossed. The current political climate has turned the attention of world leaders, private corporations, and the media to issues of immigration. Visibility is important if done correctly, otherwise, it can be extremely dangerous for migrant communities, especially migrant communities of color.
The Immigrant Artist Biennial (TIAB): HERE, TOGETHER! was born out of the need to highlight the nuance of immigrant experiences, to make the stories and identities visible by the people who experienced them. Artists defining for themselves what it means to identify as an immigrant. TIAB is set to launch in New York City in 2020, presenting multi-disciplinary exhibitions and events across a variety of venues. Because migrant experiences are so diverse, complex, and specific to people’s points of origin, race, patterns of movement and time, TIAB is committed to its biennial format. We believe that opening this space for immigrants to share their art and experiences is not only critical today but will continue to be so in the future. We are committed to holding this space for conversation, awareness, visibility, creativity, resistance, resiliency, and community.
The biennial is directed by immigrant artist and curator, Katya Grokhovsky, who was born in Ukraine and migrated first to Australia in 1992, and then to the U.S. in 2009. She has experienced grappling with belonging and the idea of “home”, having her immigrant status dictate the path of her career, and also finding community and safety in the diversity of New York City. This is a women-led initiative, comprised of a diverse team that is volunteering time and effort in order to execute this vision.
With the support and fiscal sponsorship provided by New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), the inaugural TIAB will create a platform for exchange and presentation of projects by often overlooked and silenced voices. We are an artist-run, grassroots organization. Join us on this journey by pledging to our Kickstarter campaign by December 13th, or donating via our Fiscal Sponsor at any time.
Bio: Juana Urrea was born and raised in Medellín, Colombia. She migrated to the US in 2015 and is completing her BA in Urban Studies and BFA in Illustration at The New School. She is an administrative coordinator at The Immigrant Artist Biennial.
CREATRIX Magazine interview with Katya Grokhovsky
CM: Tell us about your project, The Immigrant Artist Biennial. When was it founded, what are you planning for the launch in 2020, and what is the inspiration behind it?
KG: Launching in March 2020 across NYC, The Immigrant Artist Biennial (TIAB) is a multi-site project which will feature over 50 immigrant artists, based in U.S. The inaugural iteration, under the title Here,Together! will take place across several sites, such as EFA Project Space, NARS gallery, Artists Alliance, Greenwood Cemetery, C24 gallery and more and will run until August next year. Unofficially, I founded the project in 2018 and we began working on it publicly in April 2019. The inspiration behind TIAB comes from my own experience as an immigrant artist and curator as well as my work over the last few years as a mentor in NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program. I have been noticing a lot of gaps in the artworld system as well as a pressing need for much more connection and a community for artists, who migrate to U.S, so I decided to put to use years of my own knowledge and experience of establishing and navigating my career as an immigrant artist, towards the greater good.
CM: What are you most excited about for The Immigrant Artist Biennial?
KG: I think I am most excited to work with lots of diverse artists and to explore the city’s cultural terrain as a platform for experimentation and conversation. I am excited for the unexpected, the surprising. It’s a very challenging and strenuous journey to set something up from scratch, without any financial backing, with a raw idea at hand, but I am willing to give it my best. It’s scary, yet powerfully exhilarating at the same time. I can’t wait to see the project come to life and to see it blossom in the future as a significant cultural contributor! The possibilities are endless!
CM: We certainly share your excitement for the project! Please tell us, what piece of advice would you give to other immigrant artists?
KG: Be stubborn. Persevere, no matter what. Sounds grim, but being an immigrant struggling with migration process and an artist at the same time can be very tough, stressful, expensive and draining. There is a lot of bureaucracy, cultural misunderstanding, prejudice, judgment, assumptions and stereotypes. You need to be brave. Seek others and share resources, set things up, DIY it. Don’t wait. Take initiative. Trust your instincts most of all, sometimes, that’s all we have. Your gut is never wrong. Build it, and they will come. Speaking from experience, I always try to create something, where there seems to be nothing. They knock you down, you duck and maneuver another way.
CM: What draws you to the artists whose work you promote? What do you hope the audience take away from The Immigrant Artist Biennial?
Artists who take risks inspire me the most. Risks with mediums, subject matter, genres, disciplines. Artists who explore from the gut, who do not follow trends too much, who are audacious, interdisciplinary, experimental, political, feminist, difficult to categorize, exciting. Artists whose work has been placed in strange ill-fitting boxes and need to break out, gain more respect, exposure and recognition. I’d like the audiences to learn about and celebrate these artistic voices, to be challenged, inspired, to laugh, cry, be called to action, to deep reflection, to humanity.
CM: That’s inspiring indeed! We are looking forward to the first edition, and excited to cover The Immigrant Artist Biennial in March 2020!
Katya Grokhovsky was born in Ukraine, raised in Australia and is based in NYC. She is an artist, independent curator, educator and a Founding Artistic Director of The Immigrant Artist Biennial (TIAB) and Feminist Urgent (FU). Grokhovsky holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a BFA from Victorian College of the Arts and a BA (Honors) in Fashion from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Grokhovsky has received support through numerous residencies and fellowships including Kickstarter Creator in Residence, Pratt Fine Arts Department Artist in Residence, Wythe Hotel Residency, Art and Law Fellowship, The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) Studios Program, BRICworkspace Residency, Ox-BOW School of Art Residency, Wassaic Artist Residency, Atlantic Center for the Arts Associate Artist in Residence, Studios at MASS MoCA, VOX Populi Curatorial Fellowship, NARS Residency, Santa Fe Art Institute Residency, Watermill Center Residency and more. She has been awarded the Brooklyn Arts Council Grant, NYFA Fiscal Sponsorship, ArtSlant 2017 Prize, Asylum Arts Grant, Chashama space to create grant, Australia Council for the Arts ArtStart Grant, NYFA Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists, Freedman Traveling Scholarship for Emerging Artists and others. She has curated numerous exhibitions and events, including: Art in Odd Places 2018: “BODY”, “Soft Power” at Lesley Heller Gallery, “She’s a Maniac” at Kunstraum Gallery, “Call of the Wild” at Vox Populi and more. Her work has been exhibited extensively.
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