This was a convening for Black writers to take seriously the rigor of imagination as a creative and political methodology. We met 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) comprised of writing workshops, presentations, and intimately moderated conversations that thought through and expanded Morrison’s conceit, and which served as accompaniments to the preoccupations, questions, and projects participants bring to the residency themselves.
This gathering welcomed writers, critics, journalists, teachers, historians, scholars, and those who did 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 was 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. Lynne 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.
The sixth edition of the Momus Emerging Critics Residency was generously supported by ARTS.BLACK, The Adebayo Iduma Foundation, Kenneth Montague, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery / Black Curators Forum, Ruby Lerner, Terry Sefton, Critical Minded; and the Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy of The Ohio State University. Through these partners, full tuition was covered for every participant.
This Momus Emerging Critics Residency took place over Zoom from Monday August 1st to Friday August 5th, and rom Monday August 15th to Friday August 19, 2022. Sessions were three hours per day from 12pm to 3pm Eastern Standard Time.
All tuition was covered for successful applicants through Momus partnerships, patrons, grants, and other forms of support.
Momus works to provide alternative access to its residencies through captioning and limited-availability recordings of sessions.
Application and Adjudication Details:
Applications were 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). Through their submitted materials, we asked applicants to demonstrate a commitment to Black life and a relationship to the African Diaspora. Applications are now closed.
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, curating, and archiving. Currently an Art History PhD student at Rutgers University, Stefanie’s work is focused on memory and desire in contemporary African diasporic art. With an MA in Curatorial Practice from Wits University, Stefanie’s thesis centres the absence of pioneering photojournalist Mabel Cetu from South Africa’s official records, which she produced alongside a zine featuring a collection of responses to Cetu’s memory. Stefanie is a 2022 ArtTable Fellow working with Amant Foundation on the forthcoming exhibition Jayne Cortez: A Poet’s Guide to the World, and has written for publications such as Contemporary And, Africa South Art Initiative (ASAI), and ARTS.BLACK.
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 residency welcomed the following participants joining from Canada, France, Germany, Guadeloupe, Nigeria and the United States:
Angela N. Carroll
Allison Noelle Conner
Alysia Nicole Harris
Lucia Olubunmi R. Momoh
Sarah Stefana Smith
“An incredible breadth of expertise, interests, and approaches.”
“I was inspired to participate in the residency so that I could meet other writers/contemporaries working to illuminate Black art and culture. I have never attended a residency that explicitly sought out Black art critics. This is an exceptional opportunity to discuss the state of criticism as well as strategies to sustain and expand the work of Black art criticism.”
“I appreciated the breadth of topics we covered, and the wide range of Black representation from residents to guest speakers. I appreciated how intensive the learning environment was as well as the reading lists.”
“We didn’t have to explain ourselves. We didn’t have to justify our presence there to one another. We could just do our thing, which is invaluable. I will be thinking about this residency for the rest of my life.”
Southern Summer / Northern Winter 2022 Edition
Writing Relations, Making Futurities: Global Indigenous Art Criticism
Led by Dr. Léuli Eshrāghi
Dr. Léuli Eshrāghi is a Sāmoan/Persian/Cantonese artist, writer, curator and researcher working between Australia and Canada. They intervene in display territories to center global Indigenous and Asian diasporic visuality, sensual and spoken languages, and ceremonial-political practices. They engage with Indigenous futurities as haunted by ongoing militourist and missionary violences that once erased faʻafafine-faʻatane people from kinship and knowledge structures. Eshrāghi is Curator of the 9th TarraWarra Biennial in 2023, Curatorial Researcher in Residence at the University of Queensland Art Museum, and Scientific Advisor (Reclaim the Earth) at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris.
The fifth edition of the Momus Emerging Critics Residency was supported by Indigenous Curatorial Collective (ICCA), Concordia University’s Art Volt at the Faculty of Fine Arts, The Ohio State University’s Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy, Colby College Art Museum, The Council for Canadian American Relations (CCAR), Former US Ambassadors to Canada Bruce and Vicki Heyman, The Canada Council for the Arts.
Through these partners, full tuition was covered for every participant.
This edition of the Momus Emerging Critics Residency was offered exclusively to a global Indigenous cohort. The two-week program took place online across two separate weeks, engaging participants in a total of 10 days (3 hours per day) of workshops, writing, and lectures. In order to accommodate as many people as possible, the residency took place in separate time zones for its respective weeks, centered on Southern Summer and Northern Winter.
A panel of session leaders belonging to Indigenous communities situated in the Great Ocean, Turtle Island and the Arctic together assessed applications to gather the first international Indigenous cohort of the Momus Emerging Critics Residency. The panel recognized that there are multiple forms of community-affirmed Indigeneity and of Indigenous governance, as well as significant barriers to deepened cultural connections. The panel prioritized applicants who highlighted the lived experiences of their Indigeneity and their connections to ancestral land/water territory.
Application and Adjudication Details:
Applications were adjudicated by Dr. Léuli Eshrāghi, Joseph M. Pierce, and Dr. Stephen Gilchrist, with support from Sky Goodden, and Lauren Wetmore. Through their submitted materials, applicants were asked to highlight lived experiences of their indigeneity and connections to ancestral land/water territory.
Dr. Ngarino Ellis
Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou | Associate Professor, Art History, University of Auckland
Dr. Stephen Gilchrist
Yamatji | Lecturer, Indigenous Art, and Deputy Director, Power Institute, University of Sydney
Dr. Liisa-Rávná Finbog
Sámi | Postdoctoral Fellow: Mediated Arctic Geographies, Tampere University and Co-Curator, Sámi Pavilion, Biennale di Venezia – Arte (2022)
Dr. Lana Lopesi
Sāmoa | Editor in Chief, Pacific Arts Legacy Project, and Kaitohu Taupua Interim Director, The Pantograph Punch
Dr. Joseph M. Pierce
Cherokee | Associate Professor, Hispanic Languages and Literature, Stony Brook University, Lenapehoking / New York City
Dr. Jolene Rickard
Skarù:ręˀ / Tuscarora | Artist, Curator, and Associate Professor of the History of Art and Visual Studies / Director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, Cornell University
Kolokesa Uafā Māhina-Tuai (Tongan) and Tolumaʻanave Barbara Makuati-Afitu (Sāmoan)
Participants in the residency represented the following Indigenous memberships, communities, and heritage(s): Andean descent, Cherokee Nation, Kalaaleq (South Greenlandic Inuk), Kanaka Maoli from Nānākuli (Hawaiʻi), Métis, Mi’kmaw (Elmastukwek, Ktaqmkuk Territory, Bay of Islands, NL), Muscogee Nations of Oklahoma, Seminole, Sierra Madre Occidental peoples of West Mexico, Tahltan Nation, Wolastoqew from Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick), White Earth Ojibwe.
Lois Taylor Biggs
Nicole Kuʻuleinapuananiolikoawapuhimelemeleolani Furtado
Emily Laurent Henderson
Yvonne N. Tiger
“This program has gone beyond my expectations. My mind is actually blown at all of things I have gotten to learn and the people we are learning from. I will say that I had some writing due to a publisher during the residency. I asked for an extension so I could take in everything last week and apply it to my writing. I struggle so much with writing, and I actually wrote a pretty decent text this week with much less discomfort than in the past.”
“The Momus Emerging Critics Residency fostered a virtual learning space with great care and intention. I believe Léuli’s leadership and Sky and Lauren’s guidance led our cohort to have dynamic and engaging conversations and reflections. There were moments during the residency when I was challenged to think critically on sensitive topics pertaining to institutional violence. During these moments, I was grateful to be in a community that provided me with the opportunity for personal and professional growth. It was a great privilege to learn alongside an amazing cohort of Indigenous artists and scholars.”
“Although I have read much about the meaning and significance of ‘relationality’, I feel that I now have a much better understanding of that concept. This is a result of the generosity that has been demonstrated, deep listening that has taken place, and the diverse experiences each of us bring to the residency.”
“I really appreciate the sense of community, the generous ways knowledge has been shared, and the comfort of learn will all other Indigenous people.”
“As someone who didn’t grow up with Indigenous family members, friends, teachers, etc., learning from various Indigenous peoples expands my understanding of different traditions, issues faced by other nations, and epistemologies. Learning about relations and community from these Indigenous scholars has been so vital for me as a person continuing to connect to their roots and as an emerging scholar.”
“While exploring different forms is one thing, the most important takeaway from these sessions involved guest speakers helping us to find our own voice. This meant reflecting upon one’s Indigenous worldview and personal experience. This point was reiterated by many guest speakers and its significance is not lost on me. As a result, I now take more pride in my experiences and the perspective I have to offer, and I feel more confident sharing them. As I continue to develop my voice as a writer and emerging scholar, I will cherish the words of encouragement and lessons offered in this residency.”
“There’s no other way for me to put it—the Momus Residency was life-changing for me. It helped me build strong networks and relations with Indigenous scholars and artists worldwide. The residency was a wonderful and generative experience for myself and my research. As an emerging art critic and scholar, this experience has been transformative. Meeting Indigenous professors and art workers around the world allowed me to conceptualize our connections and differences as we shared our localized experiences.”
Summer 2021 Edition
Momus Emerging Critics Residency
Led by Sky Goodden and Lauren Wetmore
This edition of the Momus Emerging Critics Residency was led by Sky Goodden (Publisher and Editor, Momus) and Lauren Wetmore (Associate Director of Programs, Momus) and featured daily lectures and workshops from some of the leading voices in art publishing, including Hannah Black, Rahel Aima, Candice Hopkins, Emmanuel Iduma, Catherine G. Wagley, Ebony L. Haynes, Dr. Léuli Eshrāghi, Jessica Lynne, and more.
Workshop curriculum included the following topics:
- Writing, the process. This includes pitching, working with an editor, time-management, mapping and preparing for deadlines, structuring your piece, adjusting your argument across drafts, etc.
- Working freelance vs with an editorial team: the goals and challenges to prospecting and writing from within, and outside, a publishing institution.
- Writer/editor perspectives on a rigorous edit (with illustrative examples), taking a detailed look at what shifts over the course of the pitch-to-publish process.
- Compare and contrast regarding the scope of writer-remuneration rates, tips for negotiation, and budgeting your life as a freelancer.
- Criticism vs art writing and art journalism (historical & practical perspectives).
- Current debates and discourses in online art publishing.
- Online vs print publishing: the realities and potentials for writer, editor, and publisher, and the implications for your readers across various media.
- Collaboration vs competition, and protecting your work: when to work with, as opposed to alone or against, another writer or a publication.
- Interviewing your subjects: when it’s useful, and when it works against your own critical line. We’ll also touch on the etiquette, ethics, and skills of interviewing.
The fourth edition was presented in partnership with Concordia’s University’s Art Volt, at the Faculty of Fine Arts, and with the support of the Council for Canadian American Relations, and Vicki and Bruce Heyman, former US Ambassadors to Canada.
This edition ran from August 9th – 20th, 2021. Full tuition was provided for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (both students and alum) from University of Chicago. Concordia University’s Art Volt covered the participation fee for students registered for graduation, or alumni who had graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts within the last five years. Momus assisted with grant endorsements and sought scholarships to cover the program’s costs for every participant.
Dr. Léuli Eshrāghi
Ebony L. Haynes
Catherine G. Wagley
Sarah Cecilia Bukowski
Caroline Ellen Liou
Joseph Omoh Ndukwu
Diana Seo Hyung Lee
Yang Qing Qing Yu
Jacob Zhicheng Zhang
“On the level of session leaders, they somehow exceeded already high expectations. I was impressed with everyone’s forthrightness and honesty. The more practical sessions were as helpful as more theoretical ones. I thought Momus did a fantastic job in their selection.”
“It offered greater clarity on how to manoeuvre in this industry, identified areas for growth and has provided an extensive reading list and resources to keep me moving forward and honing the craft!”
“Every day felt fresh, resonant, and full of possibility.”
Summer 2020 x 2 Editions
Momus Emerging Critics Residency
In collaboration with Concordia University and OCAD University
August 3 – 14, 2020
(in collaboration with Concordia University)
How to make it work as a full-time freelancer: Money vs Exposure
Saying no: Navigating ethics, audience, and accountability as a BIPOC critic
Modes of belonging
Can We Abolish the Artworld?
Critical Formats: Genres of Art Writing
How to Write a Reported Feature; How to Write in General
Interview with artist and audio producer Aliya Pabani
Centering the Margins: Global Black Visualities
Steph Wong Ken
Diane Hau Yu Wong
Saaret E. Yoseph
“It was exactly the combination of critical engagement and professional skills that I hoped for.”
“I think there is sort of a difficult disconnect in figuring out how to get in front of BIPOC writers in a field like art criticism. I don’t think a lot of people see or maybe even seek it because of the connotation the word “criticism” carries. I think it’s somehow building an understanding that an art or cultural criticism can be anything from exploring and revealing perspectives, applying concepts to reality (or maybe fiction), or even reflection. Finding ways for writers from less traditional or academic backgrounds to see themselves doing it.”
“Overall, this was one of the most generative and safe residencies I have attended.”
“The art world is notorious for unpaid internships and residencies, or its pay to play mentality, making professional development out of reach for most emerging creative professionals. Your support of our participation in this program gave us the opportunity to learn and network with established writers, curators, publishers, and artists, something that is almost unheard of, and invaluable to anyone in this industry.”
“The Momus residency was an exceptional opportunity to connect with other emerging arts writers under the mentorship of seasoned critics in the field. Our cohort spent two incredible weeks together thinking through pressing concerns facing arts writers today, from the state of publishing in a post-COVID world (how does one actually make ends meet as a freelance writer?) to envisioning what a deeply anti-racist arts writing practice could look like.”
“The Momus Emerging Critics Residency was the first time I got to converse with and listen to both established and emerging critics, and the experience has revolutionized how I wish to engage with criticism moving forward.”
August 17-28, 2020
(in collaboration with OCAD University)
Black Study and the Arts: Theory, Mischief and Jokes
Nora N. Khan
Risk + Rigor
Hybrid Criticism for Tech-Based Art
Running Up That Hill: Entrepreneurship in Art Publishing
Finding language but still longing for words
Nora N. Khan
Karina Roman Justo
Tash Nikol Smith
Gunreet Kaur Gill
“Brilliant participants, hosts, and guests! I developed a valuable and diverse network and I hope to get a chance to collaborate with as many of the participants as possible.”
“I applied for this program because I was in the process of developing my own online editorial platform. The program definitely met my expectations. I have received a lot of heartfelt advice and been put in contact with experts in the field.”
“I was inspired to participate in the program because of the reputation and publishing presence of Momus as one of the few/only critical art sources in the country. My expectations were met in the context of Sky sharing intimate experience of how Momus operates and what it tries to accomplish.”
“I appreciated the residency as a platform which fast-tracks connections between participants and mentors.”
“I have found in my academic career that little to no emphasis is placed on art criticism. Everything I’ve learned is through trial and error prior to this point and I think this is a huge oversight. The Momus Emerging Critics program met and exceeded my expectations. I went into the residency looking for practical knowledge about the field from professionals. I have gained so much more confidence in my ability to pitch article ideas.”
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.