Justin Tyler Bryant, MFA 2018, has been awarded $20,000 as a 2019 Interchange Fellow, for his work exploring the role of art in social engagement. He is one of the sixteen inaugural grantees of the Mid-America Arts Alliance Interchange program, supporting artist-led projects focused on social impact in the region of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The pilot Interchange program is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, created to help regional artists realize projects that address issues reaching rural and urban communities. The recipients will also have access to the alliance’s network of creative professionals, who may mentor or advise the artists as they develop their projects.
Bryant’s project Holman: A Living Archive is a community project that centralizes art and social engagement as a key component to the revitalization of the historically black Holman High School in Stuttgart, Arkansas. The installation will have three components: interviews from alumni, books/zines, and works produced by the resident artist. The project will function not only as a form of record keeping but as a radical gesture to create equity in a historically marginalized neighborhood.
His recent work investigates the past and present imagery of African-Americans to reflect a multi-contextual narrative of poetry, personal narrative, and history. In his work, he uses found objects, painting, drawing, and video to suggest a fugitive notion of blackness. Bryant has shown at the Zoe B. Art Center in Chicago Illinois, Ten Gallery in New Orleans, Michigan State University’s LookOut! Art Gallery and will soon show at the Thea Arts Foundation.
“We were impressed but not surprised by the quality of proposals we received from throughout the region,” said Todd Stein, president and CEO of Mid-America Arts Alliance. “We are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for recognizing the need for funding of this kind of work happening outside of coastal arts hubs. Congratulations to all the grantees, and we appreciate all who applied.”
“Congratulation and well deserved, Justin,” said Kitty Pheney, associate head, LSU School of Art operations & programs. “I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Bryant received his BFA in Studio Art from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2012 and his MFA in studio art from LSU in 2018. He has taken courses at Penland School of Craft, Ox-bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency, the Art Students League in New York and he was also a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (’17).