Meet our 2015 Fellows!
Please tell us of an artist, curator, activist, or project that has influenced you or inspired you?
Perry Chen, Co-founder and Chairman of Kickstarter, had an idea to put on a concert but couldnâ€™t find the funding. As a result, he wasn’t able to put on the great concert he imagined. This story was the catalyst for the development of Kickstarter. Perry Chen is an inspiration to me because he turned his disappointing experience into an accessible fundraising opportunity that helps to support creatives around the world. Some amazing projects have come to fruition with funds raised on Kickstarter. I find this form of arts advocacy and entrepreneurship inspiring and empowering.
Please tell us about a place in your neighborhood that is personally meaningful to you, and why?
One of the most meaningful places in my neighborhood is the laundromat on the corner. One of the owners of the laundromat is originally from South Carolina, like me. He understood that the city can be both amazing and daunting, and gave me advice in my early days moving into the neighborhood. A friend of mine, Fatima, a wonderful UK-based singer was looking for laundromats to shoot a music video. Thinking my neighborhood laundromat would be too far, I didn’t suggest it. After looking around and being turned down at several locations, I suggested we go to my neighborhood laundromat. It was perfect. The owner was so kind. Since we have a great rapport, he let us shoot on a busy Saturday. The shoot ended up being a wonderful opportunity to meet and have conversations with my neighbors about music and film, and to strengthen bonds with local business owners. When I showed the owner of the laundromat the finished video, he was so moved. I actually saw a few tears.
What is your favorite book, film or song about NYC?
Funkin’ For Jamaica from Tom Brown’s Funkin’ For Jamaica (NY). Growing up, I definitely heard this song on my mother’s favorite radio station. There is just something about hearing it play in NY. There is context beyond the groove. Hearing this song in the summer while everyone is out and feeling good is pure magic.
Ashley Grier is a multidisciplinary artist creating works exploring identity, culture, and biography using sound as her primary medium. She holds a B.M. from Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Vocal Performance, and will be attending Columbia University’s Sound Arts M.F.A. Program in the fall.