Because my metier is black … (after Toni Morrison), led by Jessica Lynne
August 1-5 & August 15-19, 2022
With: Erica N. Cardwell, Danielle A. Jackson, Stefanie Jason, Yaniya Lee, Colony Little, Tarisai Ngangura, Rianna Jade Parker, Still Nomads
and recently added session leader: Margo Jefferson (!)
Adjudication assistance from Dr. Kemi Adeyemi
This is a convening for Black writers to take seriously the rigor of imagination as a creative and political methodology. We will meet as an intergenerational cohort, thinking across the aesthetic and conceptual principles that guide our craft and our relationships to Black cultural production. What urgencies and pleasures do we contend with on the page? What new curiosities will emerge for us within this cipher? And what does it mean, as the late Toni Morrison asserted, to consider our offerings as a map rather than as authority?
Because my metier is black… (after Toni Morrison, “The Writer Before the Page,” The Source of Self-Regard, 2019) will be comprised of writing workshops, presentations, and intimately moderated conversations that think through and expand Morrison’s conceit, and which serve as accompaniments to the preoccupations, questions, and projects participants bring to the residency themselves.
This gathering welcomes writers, critics, journalists, teachers, historians, scholars, and those who do not fit neatly within any of these categories but who are both experienced and emerging, as participants.
This edition of the Momus Emerging Critics Residency is authored and led by writer and critic Jessica Lynne. She is a founding editor of ARTS.BLACK, an online journal of art criticism from Black perspectives. Her writing has been featured in publications such as Artforum, The Believer, Frieze, The Nation, Oxford American, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2020 Research and Development award from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and a 2020 Arts Writer Grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation. Jessica is a student in the MFA Writing program at Sarah Lawrence College. She is slowly at work on an essay collection about love, faith, and the US South.
This Momus Emerging Critics Residency will take place over Zoom from Monday August 1st to Friday August 5th, and again from Monday August 15th to Friday August 19, 2022. Sessions are three hours per day from 12pm to 3pm Eastern Standard Time.
All tuition will be covered for successful applicants through Momus partnerships, patrons, grants, and other forms of support. We may require brief introductions from accepted residents to facilitate this fundraising effort and find financial support unique to each participant.
Momus works to provide alternative access to its residencies through captioning and limited-availability recordings of sessions. Please direct any questions regarding accessibility accommodations for the residency or the application process to email@example.com.
Application and Adjudication Details:
Applications will be adjudicated by Sky Goodden, Jessica Lynne, and Lauren Wetmore, with Dr. Kemi Adeyemi, Assistant Professor of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and Director of The Black Embodiments Studio at the University of Washington (full bio below).
Applications should be submitted as a single PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday May 20th, 10pm EST and include:
- Statement of interest responding to the following prompt: How will participation in the Momus Emerging Critics Residency challenge, stretch, or sharpen your work as a critic or your relationship to (art) criticism as a genre? What preoccupations, critical inquiries, or curiosities guide your work? (Maximum 1 page in length. Alternative formats such as video responses will be accepted.)
- 1 writing sample (published or unpublished writing will be accepted).
Through their submitted materials, applicants should demonstrate a commitment to Black life and a relationship to the African Diaspora.
About the leaders:
Margo Jefferson is the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for criticism. She has previously served as book and arts critic for Newsweek and the New York Times. Her writing has appeared in, among other publications, Vogue, New York Magazine, The Nation, and Guernica. Her memoir, Negroland, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. She is also the author of On Michael Jackson and is a professor of writing at Columbia University School of the Arts. In 2022 she published a memoir titled Constructing a Nervous System.
Dr. Kemi Adeyemi is Assistant Professor of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and Director of The Black Embodiments Studio at the University of Washington. Her writing and curatorial projects use performance as a site and methodology for theorizing the contours of contemporary black queer life. She has two books under contract: Feels Right: Black Queer Women’s Choreographies of Belonging in the Neoliberal City (Duke University Press) and Queer Nightlife (University of Michigan Press), co-edited with Kareem Khubchandani and Ramón Rivera-Servera. Her most recent writing has appeared in GLQ, Women & Performance, and in the Routledge Handbook of African American Art History. Adeyemi’s work extends into the realm of contemporary art practice. She works as choreographer Will Rawls’s dramaturge, and has written on and for artists including Tschabalala Self, Jovencio de la Paz, Indira Allegra, Brendan Fernandes, and taisha paggett. She curated Amina Ross’s 2019 solo show at Ditch Projects, and co-curated Unstable Objects in 2017 at the Alice Gallery. As Director of The Black Embodiments Studio, Adeyemi runs an arts writing incubator and curates a public lecture series dedicated to developing discourse around contemporary black art and artists.
Erica N. Cardwell is writer, critic, and educator based between Brooklyn and Toronto. She is the recent recipient of an Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and a New York State Council for the Arts Grant for Artists in support of her first book, Wrong Is Not My Name. Her writing has appeared in BOMB, The Believer, Brooklyn Rail, Artsy, frieze, Hyperallergic, C Mag, Art in America, and other publications. Erica is on the editorial board of Radical Teacher Journal. Wrong Is Not My Name will be published by The Feminist Press in 2023.
Danielle A. Jackson is a Memphis-born writer and the editor at Oxford American. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Vulture, Bookforum, and the Criterion Collection among other outlets.
Stefanie Jason works at the intersection of research, writing and curating. Currently an Art History PhD student at Rutgers University, Stefanie graduated with an MA in Curatorial Practice from Wits University, with a thesis on the archival absence of pioneering photojournalist Mabel Cetu from South Africa’s mainstream histories. Stefanie also created the zine titled Centring Silences: The Elusive Photographic Archive of Mabel Cetu, which features a collection of responses to the memory of Cetu. An International Women’s Media Foundation 2017 fellow, Stefanie has worked as a journalist and editor; including as senior arts writer for Mail & Guardian, Marie Claire South Africa features writer and editorial director of 10and5.com. She has also been press liaison for Stevenson Gallery, creative team member of Constitution Hill’s Basha Uhuru Youth Festival, and co-curator of 2019 exhibitions Artist Unrecorded (Wits Art Museum) and Conversations Ancestrale by Rita Mukebo (The Point of Order).
Yaniya Lee‘s writing, research, and collaboration focus on the ethics of aesthetics. She taught Art Criticism at the University of Toronto from 2018-2021 and she has written about art for museums and galleries across Canada, as well as for Vogue, Flash, FADER, Art in America, and Vulture. She was a member of the editorial team at Canadian Art magazine from 2017-2021 and joined the editorial team at Archive Books in 2021. Lee frequently works with collaborators on symposiums, programs, and workshops, most recently Ideas From Moving Water (2022); WhAt She SaId: Promiscuous References & Disobedient Care (2021); Song. Prayer. Scream. A praxis of looking (2021), Bodies, Borders, Fields (2019), and Desire x Politics (2019).
Colony Little is a Raleigh-based freelance writer and creator of Culture Shock Art, a site dedicated to the synergies among art, music, and design. She focuses on underrepresented artists who examine race, culture, and identity. As a Black woman with familial ties to the South, Little presently writes with a focus on Black creators who create work in the American South. Writing credits include Abstractions Magazine, Art News, Artnet, The Art Newspaper, ARTS.BLACK, The Black Oak Society, CARLA, Hyperallergic, W Magazine, and Walter Magazine. Little is a 2020 recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.
Tarisai Ngangura is a Zimbabwean journalist and photographer whose work has appeared in Oxford American, Lapham’s Quarterly, Rolling Stone, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and The Believer. She lived and worked in Salvador, Brazil for three years documenting Afro-Brazilian arts, culture, and food. She is currently a senior content strategist at The Atlantic and a Pitchfork contributor. Her debut novel, The Ones We Loved, is forthcoming from HarperCollins Canada in 2023.
Rianna Jade Parker is a critic, curator, and researcher based in South London where she studied her MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is a founding member of interdisciplinary collective Thick/er Black Lines, whose work was exhibited in the landmark exhibition Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House, London. She is a Contributing Editor of Frieze magazine and co-curated War Inna Babylon: The Community’s Struggle for Truths and Rights at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. Her first book A Brief History of Black British Art was published by Tate in 2021 and she is represented by The Wiley Agency. Her writing has been published in print and online by ARTnews, Frieze Magazine, Art in America, Artforum, Harpers Bazaar, Artnet, Phaidon Press, Thames and Hudson, Tate Liverpool, Frieze Masters, Camden Art Centre, Stephen Friedman Gallery, Hayward Gallery, Aperture, The Guardian, and BOMB Magazine.
Still Nomads (Samira Farah and Areej Nur) is a Black African collective and research platform co- founded by Areej Nur and Samira Farah, based on Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung country. The work of Still Nomads aims to create meaningful and long-term collaborations between African artists in Australia. Areej Nur is a radio presenter and educator. Samira Farah is a curator, creative producer and radio presenter.
The sixth edition of the Momus Emerging Critics Residency is supported by ARTS.BLACK, and Creativity & Innovation at Colorado College. Through these partners, and more to be announced, full tuition will be covered for every participant.
About the Momus Emerging Critics Residency
In the past several years, following a decades-long and exhaustively debated “crisis” in art criticism, the art publishing field is once again being reanimated. We are experiencing a level of urgency in our cultural environment that demands thoughtful, incisive, and well-structured criticism; a groundswell of small art publishers and a growing online readership has emerged to meet the moment.
Art criticism is increasingly animated through smaller, not-for-profit, and ad-hoc publications (which are, themselves, increasingly based online, and therefore better able to launch and circulate), and playing host to a number of pressing conversations regarding a renewed ethics in art. However, despite the recent swell in independently-published criticism, the field at large has never been so precarious for those working within it. Through the ongoing pandemic, most major art publishers are freezing their freelance budgets; and the same editors who are seeking historically undervalued writers and perspectives often take liberty with these authors’ bylines, do damage, or gate-keep to the exclusion of important positions. How do we more transparently chart the opportunities and revitalized potential in the field of art writing, as we work to better identify the risks?
Starting in 2019, Momus began hosting Momus Emerging Critics Residencies in an effort to attend to the heightened stakes, increasing potential, and the renewed challenges for art criticism and publishing—and to do so outside of a traditional MFA program. As we model trajectories, trade information, and chart paths and boundaries for emerging critics and publishers, we seek to channel our mentorship through both encouragement and guidance.
Each Residency is led by a network of esteemed critics, publishers, curators, and educators who provide real-world guidance and support for emerging art writers. Momus Residencies prioritize Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, both on the leadership and participant levels. In these rooms, we speak to the lived realities of our experiences in this field, trade knowledge, and establish trust.
Momus has produced five successful editions of the Momus Emerging Critics Residency to increasingly high demand, and reached participants across North America, Europe, Africa, the Pacific Ocean, and Asia. The Residency and the network that develops out of it works to put emerging art writers in the field; past participants have gone on to publish and edit with Momus, Canadian Art, C Magazine, Artforum, BmoreArt, Texte zur Kunst, frieze, March among others. Many former residents have won national writing awards and fellowships in Canada and their home countries.
Momus Emerging Critics Residencies are organized by Sky Goodden, founder and publisher of Momus, and Lauren Wetmore, Associate Director of Programs for Momus.
Past session leaders include: Rahel Aima, Hannah Black, Osei Bonsu, Daisy Desrosiers, Dr. Ngarino Ellis, Tammer El-Sheikh, Dr. Léuli Eshrāghi, Ebony L. Haynes, Candice Hopkins, Emmanuel Iduma, Dr. Stephen Gilchrist, Nora N. Khan, Dr. Lana Lopesi, Sky Goodden, Jessica Lynne, Dr. Liisa-Rávná Finbog, Dr. Stephen Gilcrist, Mark Mann, Tausif Noor, Dr. Jolene Rickard, Aliya Pabani, Andy Patton, Dr. Joseph Pierce, Lagi-Maama, Saelan Twerdy, and Catherine G. Wagley.