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The Arts

Homegrown Utica celebrates the rich legacy of rural self-determination and artistic voice in the Utica community.

The Artists

and the projects that they are creating in the Homegrown Utica initiative Spring of 2024.

Sara Green

Building Relationships with Farmers and Creating Multimedia Portraits

Sara is a mixed-media performance artist based in New Orleans, LA. Her current work is inspired by the technologies of joy, pleasure, sensation and connection found in Southern Black foodways. Through dance and installations, she creates experiences that amplify these ingredients. Her work seeks to be in solidarity with food growers of any scale by encouraging her audiences to deepen their practices of intimacy with their food. She uses stories, sounds and textures to transport people to a future of food sovereignty and abundance.

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Gavin Bird

Mural Project

My name is Gavin Bird. I am a mural artist based in Jackson Mississippi. Visual art has been my passion my entire life, whether it’s drawing, painting or three dimensional pieces. One could say I’ve been studying art since I was old enough to pick up a pencil. As of January 2021, my emphasis has been on mural art, for both public and private spaces. My main focus when painting murals in public spaces is to create a timeless piece of art that highlights the culture and history of the surrounding community.

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Stephanie McKee-Anderson

Story Sharing and Quilting, Recipes & Remedies

Stephanie McKee-Anderson is a multi-talented creative executive born in Picayune, MS and raised in New Orleans, LA. She currently leads Junebug Productions Inc., the organizational successor to the Free Southern Theater (FST). Her work with Junebug continues the significant influence of FST, which was the cultural wing of the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the primary channel for student participation in the civil rights movement. Her twenty years stewarding Junebug’s important work has allowed McKee to use her skills as an executive, artistic director, choreographer, and cultural organizer to continue using the arts as a vehicle for social change. She also founded the Moving Stories Dance Project, an organization committed to dance education and showcasing choreographer talent. Throughout her career, she has used her talents as a leader and artist to shift hearts and minds while providing a place for artists that have been neglected by or shut out of historically white institutions. In 2007, McKee was awarded the New Voices Fellowship for emerging leaders while directing the 7th Ward Neighborhood Center for Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans. This critical recovery work wove together direct community action and community storytelling to rebuild the historic ward post-Hurricane Katrina. Her work in solidarity with Urban Bush Women, Alternate ROOTS, People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, and ArtSpot Productions underscores her ability to build connections and strengthen existing relationships in diverse communities. Having taught and traveled across the United States and abroad, she is uniquely positioned to understand and respect a myriad of cultural practices and systems.

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Kira Cummings

Utica Elementary/Middle School Artist Residency

Kira Cummings is a multi-medium artist adept in an array of disciplines; painting, pyrography, photography, videography, graphic design, and animation. A Fine Art graduate of Jackson State University with a Minor in Graphic Design, Cummings holds a membership in the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi for pyrography. Cummings is the Creative Director for The Works where she creates video and animation for musicians, interview programs, and corporate promotions as well as producing live events.

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