As part of “World Making and Social Emergency at the Hemispheric Institute,” an initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Institute invites distinguished researchers, artists, journalists, and activists to develop their work and participate in our programs as Mellon Fellows–Artists in Residence, Visiting Scholars, and Journalists in Residence. These accomplished thinkers and makers create art, conduct research, strengthen activism, and chronicle the hemisphere. Their work engages hemispheric communities, scholars, and learners, and we are honored to support them.
2022 Mellon Fellows
Gertrudis Rivalta Oliva
Born in 1971 in Santa Clara, Cuba, Gertrudis Rivalta Oliva is a multi-disciplinary artist whose trajectory includes drawing, sculpture, painting, photography, video, and performance. A graduate of the Instituto Superior de Arte de la Habana (Havana) in 1996, Rivalta has exhibited her work in some of the most important Cuban galleries and museums, such as the Centro Wilfredo Lam, the Fototeca of Cuba, the 23rd and 12th Gallery, the Cuban National Museum of Fine Arts, the Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, as well as in international spaces such as the Art Museum of Ponce (Ponce, Puerto Rico), the Cultural Center (Manila, The Philippines), the Iber-American Museum of Contemporary Art (Badajoz, Spain), Track 16 Gallery (LA, California), Gallery Adhoc (Vigo, Spain), and Espace Croix-Baragnon (Toulouse, France). Many of these were curated in collaboration with British art critic, Kevin Power, who pioneered Rivalta’s work. Among her most acclaimed solo shows is Evans or not Evans (1998, University of Alicante) that revisited the work of the North American photographer Walker Evans in Cuba. Her work formed part of the 1997 group show Queloides, the first-ever exhibition in Cuba focusing on race and the place that black people occupy in Cuban society. Her work is held in collections in Cuba, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, and the United States. As part of her residency, Rivalta will present her solo exhibition Selected Pages at the Thomas Nickles Project in New York City and take part in a number of public programs.
Rosa Marquetti Torres
Born in Alquízar, La Habana, Cuba, Rosa Marquetti Torres received a degree in philology from the University of Havana. Her professional connection with Cuban music began in 1993 as an executive at the Pablo Milanés Foundation. The Pablo Milanés Foundation was the first private Afro-descendant institutional initiative in Cuban culture, and since then it has grown, with projects in diverse domains such as the record industry, intellectual property; archival, production, consulting and musical supervision in films and documentaries; curatorship, and historiographic and musicographic research. Marquetti is the author of Chano Pozo: A Life (1915-1948),“ El Niño con su tres. Andrés Echevarría Callava, Niño Rivera, Desmemoriados. Histories of Cuban Music, as well as “Celia in Cuba (1925-1960)” (forthcoming). She also created and is the editor of the blog Desmemoriados– Histories of Cuban music (www.desmemoriados.com), which was founded in 2014. Marquetti has also worked at Magic Music Records, the General Society of Authors and Editors of Spain, and the Gladys Palmera Collection. Her texts and research on major events, characteristics, and figures of Cuban music have been published in specialized and general journals and magazines in Cuba, Colombia, Spain, France, and the United States. During her residency, Marquetti will be sharing work from her forthcoming book Celia en Cuba (1925-1960), focusing on the importance of NYC-based record labels in Celia Cruz’s early career.
Ralph Thomassaint is an award-winning Haitian multimedia journalist and digital content producer based in New York. He launched the news section of the Haitian digital news media site Ayibopost, the most competitive digital platform in Haiti currently, where he worked as Editor in chief for four years. Ralph has a Master’s degree in Digital Journalism from New York University. During his residency at Hemi, he will be active in Rights Without Borders, the Institute’s collaboration with NYU Law School’s Global Justice Clinic, and coverage of current events in Haiti and the diaspora.
Karen Jaime is Assistant Professor of Performing and Media Arts and Latina/o Studies at Cornell University. Karen is a former Career Enhancement Junior Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Citizens & Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation), Visiting Scholar at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Rockefeller Foundation Research Fellow, and Chancellor’s Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Karen’s monograph, The Queer Nuyorican: Racialized Sexualities and Aesthetics in Loisaida (NYU Press, 2021) argues for a reexamination of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe as a historically queer space, both in terms of sexualities and performance practices. Her critical writing has been published, or is forthcoming, in Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, e-misférica, Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, ASAP/J, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and Performance Matters. Jaime is also an accomplished spoken word/performance artist who served as the host/curator of the Friday Night Poetry Slam at the world-renowned Nuyorican Poets Cafe (2003-2005). As a published poet, her writing is included in The Best of Panic! En Vivo From the East Village, Flicker and Spark: A Queer Anthology of Spoken Word and Poetry, a special issue of Sinister Wisdom: A Multicultural Lesbian Literary and Art Journal, “Out Latina Lesbians,” and in the anthology Latinas: Struggles and Protest in 21st Century USA. During her residency, she will lead Institute programming on the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Founders Collection in HIDVL and present new research on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Café community.
Aurelio Martínez is a renowned singer/songwriter, guitarist and percussionist, and one of the great musical artists of Central America. He is a master composer and global ambassador of Garífuna music and cultural patrimony. Born in La Ceiba, Honduras to a family with a formidable musical legacy, Martínez is known for his potent and evocative voice and original compositions, which are a modern expression of Garífuna tradition. He is an international musical force who has received numerous prizes and performed across the world sharing and teaching Garífuna culture. In addition to his career as a performing and recording artist, Martínez became the first Garífuna and the first Black representative in the Honduran Congress, where he advocated for the rights and cultural sovereignty of his community. During his residency, which will Inaugurate the collaboration between Hemi and NYU’s Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music, Aurelio will give master classes, community workshops and participate in other public programs.
Camille Lawrence (she/her). Archivist, Artist, Curator. Founder of Black Beauty Archives. Camille Lawrence’s work as an archivist focuses on the art history, innovations, and diversity of artistic expression across the African Diaspora. She is most interested in exploring and archiving identity formation throughout the African diaspora and culture through three foundational principles: Oral, Physical, and Ritual. Lawrence’s background as an art historian, artist, and beauty practitioner informs her approach to archival work. Her projects include Black Beauty Archives and contributions to Urban Bush Women, BAM DanceAfrica, and Black Dance Stories.
On Juneteenth 2020, Camille founded Black Beauty Archives to document, preserve and archive the history of Black Beauty culture. Camille’s professional makeup artist experience includes publications in VOGUE, Sophisticate’s Black Hair Styles, The New York Times, and TV/Film with Apple, CNBC, Disney, ESPN, Hallmark, and Nike. In 2022, Black Beauty Archives was featured in Oprah Daily! and mentioned on CNN and The Hollywood Reporter.
She completed her BA in Art History and a minor in Global Black Studies from SUNY Purchase. She is completing her MLIS from CUNY Queens College and Beauty Essentials Certification from the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Arthur Avilés is an internationally renowned gay New York-Rican dancer/choreographer, born in 1963 in Jamaica, Queens, raised in Long Island and the Bronx. In December 1998, he co-founded The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!) with Charles Rice-González. BAAD is a performance space that blazed a path for professional art and dance in the Bronx; it has garnered local and national attention for its work. Avilés has received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from his alma mater, Bard College, as well as a Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) award, and multiple New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards.
Nakai Flotte (She/Hers or They/Them) is an anthropologist, ethnographer, and community organizer of Mexican descent, born and raised in the Texas-Mexico border. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology at Harvard University and works on issues related to border-making, trans queer migration, and practices of refugee carcerality in the United States, Mexico, and beyond. Dr. Flotte is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Gender, Race, Indigeneity, Disability and Sexuality (GRIDS) Program at UT Austin where she will be writing and teaching about topics related to international migration, practices of care, and abolitionist practice and thought. She is an active volunteer and member ofUn Mundo Sin Fronteras, a collective founded by Black trans women from Central America based in Austin, Texas. Dr. Flotte also writes and conducts research for various tribal nations and indigenous communities in Texas, Chihuahua, Mexico and beyond.
Saudi Garcia is an Afro-Caribbean, queer, first-generation immigrant Ph.D. candidate at New York University. She is a graduate of NYU’s Culture and Media program, a public scholar and a facilitator for the Dominican-Haitian peace and reconciliation organization In Cultured Company. Deeply concerned with Black subjects’ relationships to land, ecology and environmental health, Saudi researches the history and contemporary forms of resistance to gold mining in the Dominican Republic as an entry point to examine how Black Caribbean communities construct alternative visions of human relations to the region’s climate-vulnerable and toxic ecologies. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “Unearthing Blackness: Race, Mining Toxicity and Bio-Geo-Social Health in the Dominican Republic,” analyzes how the forms of activism and everyday survival of rural Black Dominicans impacted by gold mining reveal the gap between the project of Hispanic Caribbean racialization and the anti-colonial and maroon imaginations, philosophies and cultural practices of the rural people of Ayiti (Hispaniola). She teaches bio-social anthropology, anthropology of Afro-Latin America and Dominican Studies.
Born in the Brazilian city of Natal, Rodrigo Severo is a multidisciplinary artist and professor of Theater, Performance, and Urban Intervention. He is currently completing his PhD in Performing Arts at the University of Saõ Paulo (ECA-USP). Rodrigo is a founding member of Preta Performance, a collective of multidisciplinary Black artists that investigates ethno-racial relations in Brazil with the aim of creating decolonized and anti-racist aesthetic actions using audiovisual and performance-based vocabularies. With the Collective, he has directed and participated in numerous works, among them Negrotério (2016), created for the 32nd São Paulo Biennial. His scholarly work appears in Sankofa (São Paulo), Ephemera (U FOP), interFACES (UFRJ) and, most recently, in Entre Atlânticos: protagonismo, política e epistemologia (Dialética, 2021). From 2011-2017, he was a member of the Collective Deviation Creators Network, and has performed and directed works throughout Brazil. He has also taught courses on performance and urban intervention, in numerous institutions.