New Grant Program Offers Awards to Artists Addressing Social Change

The Alliance of Artists Communities, in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, is pleased to announce the inaugural awardees for “Artists as Change Agents: Beyond Bellagio”. The two exceptional artists are Tiziana Panizza from Santiago, Chile, for her project Solitary Land; and Samir Parker from Thane, India, for his project Re-Flexing the City. Each artist will receive a $20,000 award, made possible through a grant to the Alliance of Artists Communities from The Rockefeller Foundation.

Administered by the Alliance of Artists Communities, “Artists as Change Agents” was established to advance new work initiated at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center and extend the impact of a Bellagio Center residency by providing support to artists whose work addresses the challenging issues of our times and exemplifies the Foundation’s goal of promoting the wellbeing of humankind around the world. Recognizing that such work often struggles to find mainstream support, these prestigious awards provide critical resources for the completion and dissemination of promising new work.

“Solitary Land” — Tiziana Panizza; Santiago, Chile

Project Summary

Tiziana Panizza’s project focuses on the world premiere of her documentary Solitary Land on Easter Island, sharing its cinematographic experience with the local community. In addition, there will also be a discussion panel and two filmmaking workshops for children and prisoners, encouraging understanding between Chileans and Rapanuis on the most remote island in the world.

Artistic Statement

The documentary Tierra Sola (Solitary Land) reflects upon Easter Island as a Chilean Colony, focusing on its legal system. The prison on the island has no walls or watchtowers—this is perhaps the only jail in the world that operates with an open door policy, and no one has ever escaped. Where would a fugitive go on the most remote island on the planet? There are fourteen inmates and fourteen guards, who are either friends or family members. This particular community will change dramatically with the construction of a new prison building. Solitary Land focuses on the present day jail, but also shares some of Chile’s painful history. Easter Island is currently seeking independence from Chile and the conflict has become violent; this documentary mirrors the tension between these two worlds. The world premier on Easter Island and the workshops at the local museum and in the prison will be an opportunity to share and reflect upon these issues with the local community.

Re-Flexing the City — Samir Parker; Thane, India

Project Summary

The last two decades have seen rapid growth in the city of Mumbai. The economic and social divide is reinforced by the stark contrast in habitation. New developments tower over sprawling settlements. Re-Flexing the City will reinforce a sense of locational identity and pride in some of the more marginalized areas of Mumbai. Most structures in these areas are hand-built out of brick, cement, metal-sheets and a variety of recycled materials. The rooftops are dominated by blue tarpaulin sheets spread over existing structures, designed to keep out the rain. The artist will complete a roofscape patchwork using digital prints on PVC Flex, recycled from the billboards above. Involving local community members and stakeholders, the artist will map the area and produce a graphic of over 10,000 square meters that is truly urban in scale and context. Taking a highly visible yet neglected topography of the city as its canvas, Re-Flexing the City seeks to transform it for those who live both within and outside of its footprint.

Artistic Statement

Samir Parker is intrigued by the mythic cities we create within the actual cities we inhabit. Cities generate aspirational images of themselves shaped by ancient legends and contemporary politics that are often stubbornly at odds with reality. Through drawing, photo-collage and writing, the artist will create a graphic narrative that is culturally and politically responsive, a work of public art that reflects how our destinies are shaped by our fantasies. Parker hopes to provoke new spaces to emerge from the teeming density of perpetual aspiration and loneliness in this city of dreams.

The Alliance of Artists Communities is proud to support these two important projects through this initiative, ensuring that critical issues of social and global change will have further reach and the artists will have greater influence capacity. The artists were selected by a panel of esteemed advisors, including:

  • Dan Cameron, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
  • Kemi Ilesanmi, Laundromat Project, New York, NY
  • Artur Silva, artist, Indianapolis, IN
  • Joe Smoke, City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles, CA
  • Sixto Wagan, University of Houston, Houston, TX
  • Sacha Yanow, ArtMatters Foundation, New York, NY

“Solitary Land” and Re-Flexing the City will both premiere in early 2015. To learn more about this grantmaking initiative and the awarded projects, please visit