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Luminary Gallery Awards $60K In Grants To St. Louis Artists Working For Social Change

The Luminary
Nyara Williams, Datiana Guerrero and Collin W. Elliott of Preserve are among the recipients of the Luminary's 2021 Futures Fund grants.

A YouTube program featuring Black artists in conversation, a magazine highlighting work by artists of color and public art installations on vacant lots in north St. Louis are among the projects that will be supported by the Luminary’s Futures Fund.

The Cherokee Street art gallery announced 10 recipients of grants up to about $8,000 each. The total amount disbursed is $60,000. The grant program is funded by the New York-based Andy Warhol Foundation For The Visual Arts.

“The funding is to prioritize work that addresses pressing issues of our time, and to fund under-resourced ideas and communities that might not meet the larger institutional radars,” said Kalaija Mallery, operations and programs manager for the Luminary.

Occupy Vacancy, a project led by André Fuqua and Brianna McIntyre, received the maximum grant amount. Fuqua and McIntyre will install sculptures on four city-owned vacant lots in the Vandeventer neighborhood. The sculptures will resemble free-standing doors, with mirrors on one side.

The pair hopes to draw attention to disinvestment in the north St. Louis neighborhood and invite visitors to think about the homes that may have once stood on those lots.

“If you look at the history of just Enright Avenue and who used to be on these streets and the contributions that those individuals have made to the St. Louis area, it’s pretty grand,” Fuqua said.

Former residents of the neighborhood include Lloyd Lionel Gaines, a Black man who successfully challenged the University of Missouri School of Law when the then-segregated institution refused to admit him. The Supreme Court ruled in his favor in 1938. Legal scholars consider the decision a milestone on the court’s path to overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine that allowed for segregated institutions.

A rendering illustrates plans to install sculptural doors on empty lots in the Vanderventer neighborhood of St. Louis
The Luminary
A rendering illustrates plans to install sculptural doors on empty lots in the Vandeventer neighborhood of St. Louis.

Other grant recipients include the Fannie Lou Hamer House, described as an “urban oasis” for single Black mothers under the stewardship of Treasure Redmond and collaborator Dail Chambers. Eugenia Alexander’s Indigo Garden Project in East St. Louis, an artist-run effort to create urban green space where arts education programs can take place, will also receive funds. Wyndi DeSouza will use grant funds to create an interactive website to connect St. Louis residents who have experienced trauma. Brian Lathan and Amanda Attarian will produce a series of print works by local artists to raise money for organizations providing mutual and charitable aid.

“We know that St. Louis has a grand past. We celebrate that, and we recognize that,” McIntyre said. “But we have to press forward together with a really strong focus and determination to love the city.”

This is the third year the Luminary has distributed money through the Futures Fund. Last year it shifted from project-based grants to emergency support for artists who are struggling financially because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.