Race Forward Celebrates Fair Housing Month, Announces Housing, Land and Justice Artists Fellows

For Immediate Release
April 25, 2024 
Contact: [email protected]


NEW YORK – Race Forward, a national nonprofit working to catalyze movement building for racial justice, today announced the nine artist fellows, who are participating in its 2024 Housing, Land, and Justice Artist Fellowship. Each fellow received $20,000 to produce an original artwork or cultural production using media, visual or performance art that incorporates the core narrative and one rich storytelling theme from the housing justice story platform published in the PolicyLink Housing Justice Narrative Toolkit.

“Artists and culture bearers have always played a leading role in helping us to make sense of what racial injustice does to us collectively, inspiring us to imagine what a just, democratic world looks like and to push for it unapologetically,” said Glenn Harris, President of Race Forward. “The Housing, Land, and Justice Artist Fellows will produce artistic expressions of what a transformed, equitable housing system should look, feel, smell like to our communities in a multiracial democracy, despite how systemic racism has historically been used to shape this nation’s culture and subsequent housing policies. We can make our shared visions for justice and liberation the reality.”

The Housing, Land and Justice Artist Fellowship emerges from a three-year collaboration between Race Forward, Community Change and PolicyLink. The goal of the partnership was to develop strategies to change our collective relationship to housing in society, promote popular narratives around housing as a basic human need and not a commodity, and foster the necessary climate for racially just housing policies to be enacted. The fellowship is an extension of Race Forward’s  broader work to harness the power of the arts and culture to demand housing policies that see and serve all.

“Cultural change always precedes lasting political and policy change,” said Jane Mantey, Director of Narrative and Cultural Strategies, Race Forward, who is managing the Artist Fellowship. “With these artist fellowships, we want to convene a nationwide chorus where more people, regardless of where they’re from or how they look, are talking about, and advocating for, transformative housing futures and racial justice.”

The artistic works produced by the fellows will catalyze deeper dialogues, regionally and nationally, around racial and housing justice and embody the values and themes of:

  • Abundance, Enoughness, and Winning
  • Love and Love as a Verb
  • To Neighbor, Collective Power, and Solidarity
  • Restoration Safety, Privacy, and Freedom
  • Care, Caretaking, and Stewardship, and/or
  • Joy 

The fellowship recipients are: 

  • Autumn Breon (Inglewood, CA) is a multidisciplinary artist that investigates the visual vocabulary of liberation through a queer Black feminist lens. Using various mediums including performance, sculpture, and collage, Breon invites audiences to collectively imagine new systems that make current oppressive systems obsolete. She is an alumna of Stanford University where she studied Aeronautics & Astronautics.
  • Taishona Carpenter (Portland, OR) is a conceptual artist, organizer and community archivist with a passion for social impact in the realms of art and civil rights. Her work allows her to intersect two passions, art and civil rights by utilizing critical research to facilitate dialogues around art in relation to current social movements. She is the founder of Compose Yourself Magazine, an independent online publication spotlighting music, culture and social justice. Taishona is also currently the Board President of Don’t Shoot Portland, a community-based advocacy nonprofit and Director of The Black Gallery, an experimental arts space in downtown Portland. 
  • Danielle Demetria East (Lubbock, TX) is a multifaceted artist, poet, and passionate advocate for her community. Originally from La Grange, Texas, Danielle is the driving force behind East Lubbock Art House (ELAH), a thriving 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a noble mission – to make art accessible to all – as its founder and Executive Director since 2020. Danielle is an active contributor to the arts community in West Texas, holding key positions on various nonprofit boards. She earned her BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. 
  • Brian Ellison (Houston, TX) is a Houston-based conceptual artist and a Creative Coach and Education Program Manager at Project Row House. Grounded in the belief that art is a universal language and a catalyst for healing, he delves into cultural misconceptions such as one-dimensional expressions and emotional inaccessibility. Through a multi-disciplinary approach, including performance art, Ellison captures the intricate facets of the everyday Black experience. Themes of his work span the impact of gentrification on legacy communities, the physical and emotional toll on Black bodies, the lesser-known tales of Black love and solidarity, and the resilient spirit of Black men and women. Brian is a graduate of Morgan State University and holds an MFA from the University of Houston. 
  • Charlyn Griffith-Oro (Philadelphia, PA) practices creative abolition, imagining the destruction of capitalism to be symbolic of the dismantling of our own fears of neglect. They prioritize creating systems of care; using food art and communal dining, their project Free Brunch Program is a creative disruption of the invisible pain and isolation of hunger. Their work proclaims "Food Could Be Free" as a call to the imaginations of their community. Charlyn has been a midwife for over a decade, delivering her own 3 children at home with her mother, refusing to have the fate of Black births decided by the public system. They are an "infinite media" artist using sculpture, performance, narrative, and most recently filmmaking to document and illustrate robust, sweet, tender life. Charlyn is a graduate of Hunter College and holds a MS from the University of Vermont – Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. 
  • Andre Jamora Jones (Oakland, CA)  is a distinguished muralist, public arts director, and the visionary Founder of the Bay Area Mural Program, headquartered in the vibrant city of Oakland, California. With over two decades of unwavering dedication to the arts, Andre has honed his craft into a transformative force, specializing in the creation of expansive murals and public art installations that ignite community engagement and catalyze social change. His murals are resonant expressions of empowerment, social justice, and the profound potential for community restoration. Andre is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. 
  • Nguyen E. Smith (Jersey City, NJ) is an artist primarily working in mixed media drawing, found object sculpture, and performance. He is interested in the ways ritual, memory, language, and history intersect with art-making processes that prioritizes previously used materials, the body, and play; through the lens of Blackness. Nyugen is a graduate of Seton Hall University and holds an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 
  • Lauren Williams (Detroit, MI) is a Detroit-based designer, researcher and educator. They work with visual and interactive media to understand, critique, and reimagine the ways social and economic systems distribute and exercise power over Black life and death. Through her creative practice and research, Lauren often investigates Blackness, identity, bodiliness, and social fictions to examine how racism is felt, embodied, and embedded into institutions. Lauren is a graduate of University of North Carolina and holds an MFA from the ArtCenter College of Design. 
  • Anu Yadav (North Hollywood, CA) is a critically-acclaimed Indian-heritage actress, playwright, and cultural worker engaged in community care, poor people's organizing, and liberation. She is a member of the We Cry Justice Movement Arts Collective at the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice, the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, and the Poor People's Campaign: a National Call for Moral Revival. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and holds an M.F.A. in Performance from University of Maryland, College Park.

The year-long fellowship will end November 2024.