VisArts’ Art + Social Justice Fellowship
VisArts’ Arts + Social Justice Fellowship is open to visual activists whose current research, curatorial or visual activist practice and passion center on social, racial, economic, and/or environmental justice.
The year-long experience, which includes a $500 monthly stipend, is an opportunity to explore how thoughtfully curated art, dialogue, communication, and collaborations between artists and communities can productively navigate political flashpoints, chronic systemic inequities, and entrenched perspectives to inspire change toward a more equitable, just, and inclusive society.
VisArts’ 2022-2023 Art + Social Justice Fellow: Krystal C. Mack
Krystal C. Mack is a self-taught designer and artist using her social practice to highlight food and nature’s role in collective healing, empowerment, and decolonization. Through comestible and social design, Mack seeks to publicly unpack and heal personal traumas relevant to her lived experience as an autistic Black woman. A critical element of her work involves the exploration of food and nature beyond the limits of traditional consumption.
Mack uses food design to construct spaces for dialogue and inquiry into the cultivation, or lack thereof, of sustainable and accessible practices supporting or hindering reparative futures for marginalized communities. With her practice, she creates worlds and objects that invite the community to engage with food and the more-than-human world in multidimensional ways that elicit a sensory call and response, acting as a transformative tool for all.
Mack’s recent work with the mycelial network (described below) is the inspiration for VisArts’ F.E.A.S.T. 2023′s theme of REMEDIATION.
For the past two years, i’ve been working with mycelium in my practice as a creative medium because of its natural beauty as a material and the similarities that i see between mycelium, people of the African diaspora, and the communities that both create. There is strength and resilience in mycelium, but there is also a beauty and vulnerability that shows up in its structural networks and fruiting bodies (mushrooms). i believe the same is true of communities of the African diaspora.
There is power in our varying cultures collectively, but there is also so much softness and nuance in the communities that make up the African diaspora and its respective networks. Like many creatives in global communities of a diaspora, my work as a social practice artist is an attempt to remediate the colonized ways of thinking and creating that i have been inoculated with living in a white supremacist, patriarchal, ableist, and capitalist world. This past year, that work has primarily explored the mycelial nature of Black cultural work, ancestral wisdom, and how one could understand remediation and decolonization by observing and replicating natural processes of the more-than-human world in art, place-making, and social justice work.
It has been an honor to serve as the 2022-2023 VisArts Art + Social Justice Fellow. As i embark on the journey of creating a public-facing social design studio and cultural arts garden in my hometown of Baltimore, i cannot begin to express how crucial this time afforded to me by VisArts has been. i have been able to take this time to dive more deeply into biomimicry as a social practice artist and embrace remediation through the creation and celebration of living containers of culture, both mediated and imagined. i have been given the opportunity to rediscover alternative approaches to community organization and support that have existed long before the human-made inequities of the world as we know it today.
About the Artist
Mack’s work has been highlighted by the New York Times, NPR, Food & Wine Magazine, and MOLD Magazine. She has been named a “Woman to Watch” by the Baltimore Sun and featured on the Cherry Bombe 100 Women in Food list by Cherry Bombe Magazine as a food industry “Change Agent.” In 2023, she was awarded the United States Artist Fellowship in Architecture & Design, becoming the first artist in the history of the USA Fellowship to be honored for working with food. Mack currently resides in her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.