Awardee: Kenya (Robinson)

Emerging Fields, 2016

Kenya (Robinson) is a community-taught artist from Gainesville, FL. An artist, socialite, international southerner, mischief maker and shit-starter, she is a past resident of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s WorkSpace Program (2009–10), the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (2014) and the Triangle Arts Residency (2015). Her sculptural work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Aljira and the 60 Wall Street Gallery of Deutsche Bank. In 2014, her sculpture, Commemorative Headdress of Her Journey Beyond Heaven, was acquired by the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture for their permanent collection. In addition, her performances have been featured at Rush Arts Gallery; MoMA PS1; JACK; The Kitchen; Thomas Hunter Project Space; The Museum of Modern Art; as well as in the Home Section of The New York Times. She is the inaugural resident for Recess Arts’ online residency ANALOG and was awarded the Emerging Artist Grant from The Rema Hort Mann Foundation in 2015.

Project: CHEEKY LaSHAE: Karaoke Universal

“CHEEKY” is a glittering sack of stars that exists as an avatar to be embodied by a revolving cast of individuals. By evoking the history of drag performance, glitter, reflection, puppetry, model-making kits and social media, CHEEKY LaSHAE: Karaoke Universal uses the structure of a college-level course to perforate the boundaries between audience and performer. To date CHEEKY LaSHAE is a heavy metal performer, self-help guru, sex worker, motivational speaker, author, fashion icon, educator, KJ, financial planner and interior designer. The syllabus highlights the conceptual origins of these roles, while offering students a platform to contribute to CHEEKY's evolving narrative.  The curriculum includes hands-on sculptural projects, readings, guest speakers, “Google-search-vortex-maps,” hashtag creation and social media group projects. The final project for the course is the performance of CHEEKY LaSHAE, as interpreted by the individual student and filtered through their online medium of choice.