Fellows Selected for 2021–22 DocX Archive Lab

Header with fellows' headshots surrounding a bar of text: "2021–22 DocX Archive Lab Fellows".
Top row (left to right): Arlene Mejorado, Allison Minto, Jen Everett, Tatiana Garnett. Bottom row (left to right): Xiaolu Wang, Beatriz Guzman Velasquez, Devon Vonnie Smith

The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) is pleased to announce the artists selected to participate in the virtual DocX Archive Lab—How Are We Known: Reimagining, Repurposing, and Rewriting the Archive—launching September 24, 2021. The lab is a project of CDS’s DocX initiative supporting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) artists, curators, and thought leaders working across the nonfiction landscape.

“The submissions for our inaugural lab were impressive; in fact, we expanded the cohort given the number and strength of the applications,” said DocX director Stephanie Owens. Seven artists were chosen across documentary practices: Jen Everett, Tatiana Garnett, Beatriz Guzman Velasquez, Arlene Mejorado, Allison Minto, Devon Vonnie Smith, and Xiaolu Wang. See more information below on the 2021–22 DocX Archive Lab Fellows.
“As we reviewed the incredible work artists are making across disciplines, we also got insight into their curiosity—the questions they’re asking of themselves and want to delve into alongside others,” said Owens. “I’m excited about the selected fellows and where their questions will lead, and about the ways that DocX and CDS will continue to build new opportunities to support artists.”

The virtual lab will be a space for fellows to invest deeply in their work and to be in communion with questions prompted by the fact that historically, archival memory of BIPOC life has been fixed within, for, and by the colonial and white gaze.

That type of group synergy is fundamental to the lab, notes Lead Artist Lab Collaborator Martine Granby. “We’ve chosen this particular cohort to be in community with one another. Their intentions around reshaping and complicating notions of archival practices are in conversation in wonderfully surprising ways,” she said. “When we first conceived of the lab it was not lost on us that the immediate need for BIPOC artists would be a space of support and collaboration. It’s a privilege to do this work.”

The fellows will explore and create with Granby, Lead Artist Facilitator Nyssa Chow, and a slate of guest artists, whose specialized perspectives will shape monthly modules. “Fellows will participate in artist talks, ideation meetings, readings, screenings, and generative exercises as they exchange questions, ideas, perspectives, and give meaningful attention to their art practice and its engagement with community,” said Chow.

Fellows will receive $3,000 for their engagement with the lab and will share some of their insights by creating an offering for the community in which they reside, or from which their work derives. Barring Covid-related restrictions, the DocX Archive Lab will culminate in an in-person weekend-long retreat held at the Center for Documentary Studies on the Duke University campus on May 13–15, 2022.

CDS’s DocX initiative supports BIPOC artists, curators, and thought leaders working across the nonfiction landscape who are charting more accountable, non-extractive documentary paths and practices. To reimagine what documentary work looks and sounds like, DocX nurtures imaginative exploration and bold interrogation of form and ways of collaborating.

2021–22 DocX Archive Lab Fellows

Jen Everett, currently based in Saint Louis, Missouri, is an artist from Southfield, Michigan. She received an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, and earned a Bachelor of Architecture from Tuskegee University. Broadly, she is interested in the myriad ways Black people continue to produce and transmit knowledge in excess of formal structures. Her practice moves between lens- and time-based media, installation, and writing. Everett’s work has been shown nationally and internationally at art spaces including Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Krannert Art Museum, Kunsthall Stavanger, Seattle University’s Hedreen Gallery, and SPRING/BREAK Art Show in New York. She has been an artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and ACRE, and her work is in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago.

Tatiana Garnett is a recent graduate of Occidental College, where she studied Media Arts &  Culture with an emphasis in film production. She’s had the opportunity to work on a variety of film projects that have driven her passion for using filmmaking as a vehicle for self-liberation and social change. Most recently, she edited a short film documenting the Black student experience at Occidental and directed her first solo piece exploring the role of emotional vulnerability in Black selfhood and liberation. She looks forward to continuing to create projects that reimagine what community, healing, and freedom are and have the potential to be.

Beatriz Guzman Velasquez was born in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and raised in Texas in the U.S.–Mexico border region. She received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is an alumna of the New York Studio School and the University of Texas–Pan American. Her interdisciplinary practice speaks about the transformation of generational trauma. Recently, she participated in a National Association of Latinos Arts and Culture (NALAC) fellowship and completed her residency at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. In 2019, Guzman Velasquez took part in the New York Foundation for the Arts Immigrant Artist Program and is working toward the cohort’s exhibition in San Antonio, Texas, for spring 2022. In October 2021, she will be participating in the National Latinx Summit held by NALAC to share the founding of her project space, Juana Simona, a place exploring the relationship between artists and nature.

​​Arlene Mejorado is a first-generation, transnational lens-based artist from Los Angeles, California, working with analog and digital photography, video, and installations. She experiments with documentary practices, depicting truths that aren’t visibly represented or legible but experienced viscerally. Mejorado engages in repair work, countering erasure and mending fragments in familial and collective stories and archives, especially those of diasporic communities. She has been awarded the Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice fellowship and the National Association of Latinos Arts and Culture (NALAC) master artist grant. Her photography has been published in Vogue, The Atlantic, California Sunday Magazine, Pop-Up Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. Mejorado has handled special archival projects with the Human Rights Documentation Initiative, the Latin American Benson Collection, and El Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen in San Salvador, El Salvador. She has a BA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas–Austin and is completing her MFA in Visual Arts at the University of California–San Diego.

Allison Minto, a Connecticut-based artist and educator, holds an MFA in Photography from the Yale School of Art and a BA in Journalism from SUNY–Buffalo State College. In her work, she uses field research and photography to take on themes around African American archives, family, history, memory, preservation, and maintenance. Minto was selected as a Happy and Bob Doran Connecticut Artist in Residence and has participated in a UnionDocs CoLAB, the Eddie Adams Workshop, and the New York Portfolio Review. Minto’s work has been exhibited in galleries throughout the United States, and she has contributed to such publications as the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Travel + Leisure magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR).

Devon Vonnie Smith, who was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is an interdisciplinary documentary artist currently living and working in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Smith uses video, archival material, and photography as a means toward exploring the intersections, mechanics, and deconstruction of narrative, place, and language. Through video art and experimental documentary, he interrogates normalized anti-Black violence. Abolition is at the heart of Smith’s creative practice. He received his MFA from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

Xiaolu Wang (she/they) is an emerging documentary filmmaker and a translator from the Hui Muslim Autonomous Region of China who currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their practice is based in the mapping of interiority and uses video, poetry, translations, as well as a decolonial lens. They are a recipient of a 2019 Jerome Film and Media Grant and their work has been generously supported by Metropolitan Regional Arts Council of Minnesota, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, Women Make Movies, and Union Docs. Wang’s work has been screened at local venues and international film festivals in such countries as Lebanon, Mexico, China, and Argentina and has also contributed translations to journals including 单读, onlimbo, and Cinephila.