2022 Knights Art Fellows Include Philly Artist James Allister Sprang

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a Miami-based non-profit that supports journalism, arts, and culture, has announced the recipients of the 2022 Knight Arts and Tech Fellowship, one of whom is Philadelphia-based artist James Allister Sprang.

The Fellowship began last year in 2021 and provides $50,000 grants to its recipients, focusing on artists who are working with “new and emerging technologies”. The first set of fellows included Black Quantum Futurism (a local collaboration between Camae Ayewa and Rasheedah Phillips), Tulane University alum and visual artist Rashaad Newsome, New Jersey native Sondra Perry, Cuban artist Rodolfo Peraza, and Brooklyn-based Stephanie Dinkins.

This year’s fellows are also a group with diverse approaches working in the intersection of traditional art mediums and tech. Detroit-based art collective Complex Movements “explor[es] the connections of complex science and social justice movements through multimedia interactive performance work”. Mary Maggic is a non-binary Chinese-American artist who calls their work “socio-political excavaction”, with a focus on body politics. Mother Cyborg is another Detroit-based artist and musician who works on creating emotional experiences. MIT grad Ryan Kuo’s art has been displayed in galleries across the world.

Philadelphia audiences may already be familiar with 2022 fellow James Allister Sprang, a graduate of Cooper Union and the University of Pennsylvania. Storytelling is at the heart of Sprang’s work, with his art highly influenced by his blackness and ancestral past. Soundscapes and listening are also key elements.

In 2019, Sprang previewed Turning Towards a Radical Listening, a lecture and sound performance inspired by Sprang’s questions after finding that voice recognition software struggled to understand him and other Black Americans. This performance brought these questions before an audience who were also challenged to see how well their voices were understood and documented, and what was lost in-between, inquiring how voice recognition programs and other human-created technologies reflect human prejudices and biases. A full production of this work was scheduled for May 2020 at FringeArts, but is indefinitely postponed. Sprang’s work, past and present, can be read about on his website.

The 2022 Knight Fellows have been spotlighted with the publication of Shift Space 2.0, a multimedia publication featuring interviews, essays, and other writings.

More information about Knights Arts and Tech and the artists they support can be read on their website, and congratulations to Sprang and this year’s fellows.

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