Grantee Project: Creating Fertile Grounds for Healing

Artists: Red Clay Dance Company + Avery R. Young + De Deacon Board Band
Select Urban Growers Collective farms – South Chicago, Clara Shafer Park; Auburn Gresham, Mahalia Jackson Park; and Art on the Farm, Grant Park
Art Type: Dance & Music
Grant Amount: $25,000

Red Clay Dance

Creating Fertile Grounds for Healing will consist of a series of community-based artistic experiences and exchanges to engage the community around the creative process of Red Clay Dance Company’s work Rest.Rise.Move.Nourish.Heal; a live dance and music performance in collaboration with musicians avery r. young and his band de deacon board.  

These events are to introduce the healing practices of dance and urban agriculture with a focus on access to green space, food deserts and food apartheid. They will be structured as storytelling events / workshops which will ultimately inform the performance of Rest.Rise.Move.Nourish.Heal at Art on the Farm in Grant Park during the E(art)H Chicago public programming period in June 2023.

Red Clay Dance

All events and performances will be hosted by select Urban Growers Collective (UGC) farms. UGC’s work aims to address the inequities and structural racism that exist in the food system and in communities of color. Research suggests that urban agriculture can produce a range of social, health, and economic benefits for communities.

The personal experience of Red Clay Dance’s Artistic Founder, both as a community member living in food deserts, and as a business owner located in areas of intentional food apartheid, inspired this project. Over the last three years, this environmental injustice has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, because people’s diets (which are largely determined by what food they do or do not have access to) drive conditions like diabetes and heart disease that put South side communities at greater risk to this deadly virus. 

Through this project, people across Chicago can learn about these issues, and even participate in their own creative uncovering of not only the reality that we face, but the possibility of creating and accessing more spaces like these urban farms.

Located in Chicago’s South Side, Red Clay Dance Company lives to awakens “glocal” change through creating, performing, and teaching dances of the African Diaspora. As Artivists (art + activists), they are a socially conscious, positive force that cultivates change through dance artistry. 

Red Clay Dance

Red Clay Dance’s Founding Artistic Director & CEO, Vershawn Ward, and members of its touring company will be collaborating on this project with interdisciplinary artist Avery R. Young, an award-winning teaching artist, poet, writer, sound designer and musician.