Claudrena Harold / History & African American & African Studies

“Black Fire Writers and Artists Workshop Series”

My dream idea involves the implementation of a yearlong, workshop series specifically targeted to undergraduates with interests in creative writing, journalism, the visual arts, and music. Over the past three years, I have been struck by the growing number of students who identify themselves as budding artists/writers in need of an informal space that will assist them in honing their craft, locating potential peers, and producing individual and collective projects that highlight the diversity and dynamism of the “black experience” at UVA.

In recent years, as I have offered more courses on African American music and popular culture, my office in Nau Hall has functioned as a gathering space where students discuss the latest trends in popular culture, debate the artistic merits of a new music release, or simply bemoan how “school” has depleted all of their creative potential. Frequently students express their desire to extend these conversations beyond office hours and bond with peers who share their artistic interests.

An informal workshop series would enable me to bring together a small group of likeminded undergraduates for bi-monthly meetings that will discuss contemporary issues in popular culture, their current artistic projects, as well as potential collaborative endeavors. One possible project that might emerge from such a series is a student publication geared toward the arts. In recent months, several of my African American students have shared with me their desire to relaunch Pride Magazine, a student run literary journal produced during the 1990s and early 2000s. Last semester, two first-year students approached me about the possibility of doing a fall spring2014 issue. With respect to that project, I would love to use the workshop series as a springboard for discussion and collaboration.

Ideally, this workshop series will meet bi-monthly and will consist of 10-12 student participants. Due to undergraduates’ busy schedules, I envision the bi-monthly meetings falling into two categories: the first meeting of the month will consist of an informal lunch or early afternoon dinner and the second monthly meeting will be structured in a more formal, workshop setting in which we discuss in-depth a work of contemporary art.

Thematically, our focus would center on issues related to culture, race, and diversity at UVA and beyond. It bears noting that this Workshop series is not bound to one particular project though I would like to produce some type of artistic work that gives the larger UVA community a glimpse into our discussions and our community.

What funding from the Mead Endowment would enable me to do is provide food at our bimonthly meetings, fiscal support for a collaborative endeavor, and perhaps sponsor an artist-in-residence who would come to the University for two days in order to dialogue with students.

Through teaching and a variety of research projects, I have had the opportunity to observe the ubiquitous talent on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. The overarching objective of this undergraduate workshop series is to provide developmental guidance, community, and small fiscal support for student projects that enhances the intellectual and pedagogical work that takes place in my classroom.
My requested budget of $2500 dollars breaks down as follows:

A budget of $1,200 for the purpose of providing fiscal support for individual and collaborative student projects. These projects may take the form of newsletters, magazines, or webseries.

An additional $800 to fund lunch/dinner for workshops

$500.00 for artist in residence costs