2018 Convergence

Join Elsewhere on Saturday, December 1st at the South Elm neighborhood public art installation, The Porch Project: Black Lunch Tables for a day full of public, inclusive conversations around the intersections of art, social justice, and politics.

As a culmination of the Southern Constellations Fellowship residency and a way to garner political excitement, this convergence is organized in tandem with For Freedoms’ 50 States Initiative. As a For Freedoms “Town Hall,” this artist-led convergence will provide a safe, inclusive platform for conversations that explore liberation.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. See Facebook event here. (Registration opens late Oct. 2018)

Southern Constellations is funded in-part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, and ArtsGreensboro. The convergence is funded by our partner, For Freedoms.


For Freedoms

For Freedoms is a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States. This year, For Freedoms is launching a 50 State Initiative in which concurrent decentralized public events across the country will reflect a multiplicity of voices an spark a national dialogue about art, education, commerce, and politics. For more about For Freedoms, visit:


Antoine Williams, They Believe In Unicorns, Southern Constellations Fellow 2016, surplus WW II military tents, wood, thread.

Elsewhere’s 5th annual Southern Constellation Convergence

A day of critical discussions on arts organizing and experimental practices in North Carolina. This year we’ve partnered with The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and The Kenan Institute for the Arts to explore the intersection of equitable development models and artistic practices. The Convergence is in conjunction with Elsewhere’s Southern Constellations Fellowship and The Nasher’s highly thoughtful Southern Accent exhibition.

This year’s Convergence will focus on the idea of “Hacking the Renaissance.” North Carolina cities are experiencing self described renaissances,but more often than not this idea of cultural and economic renewal is code for  corporate development, real-estate speculation, and the production of exclusive mono-class cultures. What would it take to hack this renaissance in order to unleash creative practices that are both economically sound, intersectional, and socially invested? What assets are necessary and models available to enable more equitable cultural and economic development in our cities?

Join colleagues and cultural leaders for a day of discussion and power mapping of our state’s cultural ecosystems, assets, and arts practices that are fostering a truly equitable cultural economy and artistic landscape.

This event is free and open to the public; seating is limited to 50. Free admittance to the Nasher Museum exhibitions and lunch included.

The program is now full and registration is currently closed! (12.14.16).

LOCATION: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University (2001 Campus Dr, Durham, NC, 27705)

DATE: Saturday, December 17th

TIME: 10am – 4:30pm

Southern Constellations is funded in-part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, and ArtsGreensboro. The convergence is funded by our partners, The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University


10:00 am | Doors open

10:30 am | Keynote: Nia Umoja, Lead Organizer and Creative Director of Cooperative Community of New West Jackson Jackson, MS

11:30 am | Panel: Hacking The Renaissance

Moderator: Courtney Reid-Eaton, Exhibitions Director at Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University


Nia Umoja, Lead Organizer and Creative Director of Cooperative Community of New West Jackson

Holden Cession, Co-Director of Ignite NC

Pedro Lasch, visual artist, Duke professor

Saba Taj, Coordinator for Durham Artists Movement

Ed Whitfield,  Co-Founder and Co-Managing Director of the Fund For Democratic Communities

12:30 – 2:00 pm | Lunch & Tour of Southern Accent Exhibition

2:00 |  Asset Mapping with Panelists, lead by Corey Madden, Director of The Kenan Institute for the Arts at the North Carolina School of the Arts

4:00 | Tour Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University


Nia Umoja, a seasoned community activist, works as the Lead Organizer and Creative Director in her West Jackson neighborhood, the Cooperative Community of New West Jackson (CCNWJ), an initiative she co-started in August 2013. CCNWJ is a grassroots, resident-led development model that seeks to revitalize community through an inventive “inside out” strategy. Beginning in an 8-block area, its mission is to find sustainable solutions to chronic economic and social challenges by matching residents’ underemployed skill sets, abandoned property resources and micro-cooperative enterprises with a creative placemaking effort that centers on local food production, folk art and culture, education and the construction trades. The work seeks to change, not only the look and feel of a blighted neighborhood, marred by poverty, crime and unemployment, but to restore self-reliance, purpose and vision within the people who have weathered through the worst of times, and who face the prospects of being pushed out through gentrification in the near future. CCNWJ, as a model, aims to eradicate generational poverty, rebuild a neighborhood, erase blight and prevent the “unintended consequences” of gentrification and, when successful, be replicated as a process for community self-determination and empowerment.

Nia holds a B.F.A in Apparel and Textile Design and a B.S. in Entrepreneurship. For more than fifteen years, she has worked in the environmental, sustainability and Fair Trade sector of business as a folk-artreprenuer, while also serving as an active organizing member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. She managed a cultural institution called Roots-n-Kulture, owned and operated idaBaby, an organic and Fair Trade children’s line and boutique, and designed a cultural summer arts program for kids called Travelin’ Shoes in Fort Worth, Texas, before moving to Jackson where she lives and works with her husband and 7 children.

Courtney Reid-Eaton has been the Exhibitions Director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University since 2001, overseeing the selection, scheduling, curating, design, and installation of exhibits in all of the Center’s galleries and organizing related public programs. Her passion for documentary expression has sharpened her interest in empathy, equity, trust, and healing. In personal work, she uses text and images of family and friends to explore labels, identity, history, culture, and intimacy.

Holden Cession is a southern magic maker born and raised in North Carolina and is the recently elected co-director of Ignite NC, which builds the leadership and power of young people to create lasting change. They work alongside grassroots efforts and situate trans communities of color at the epicenter of change. They have done this work with BLM Greensboro, Cakalak Thunder, Ignite NC, NC Trans Pride in Action, and Queer People of Color Collective . They strive to elevate trans and queer poc leadership across the South through relationship building and cultural organizing within the intersections of identities. When they’re not in the streets you can find them writing and nerding out about liberation theology, art, music, and southern culture.

Pedro Lasch is a visual artist, Duke professor, and director of the FHI Social Practice Lab. His solo exhibitions and projects include Open Routines (QMA), Black Mirror (Nasher), Abstract Nationalism(Phillips Collection) and Art of the MOOC (Creative Time); group exhibitions include MoMA PS1, MASS MoCA (USA); RCA, Hayward Gallery, Baltic (UK); Centro Nacional de las Artes, MUAC, National Palace Gallery (Mexico); Gwangju Biennial (2006), Havana Biennial (2015), Documenta 13 (ANDANDAND, 2012), 56th Venice Biennale (CTS, 2015). Author of three books, his work has appeared inOctober MagazineSaber Ver, Art ForumARTnews, Cultural Studies, Rethinking Marxism, The New York Timesand La Jornada.

Saba Taj is an interdisciplinary artist whose work imagines apocalypse and liberation through an intersectional lens.  She received her MFA from UNC-CH in 2016. Taj is a lead coordinator for Durham Artists Movement (DAM), an arts collective centering queer people of color, and working to connect Arts and Activism with a local focus.  DAM is a recent recipient of a 2106 INDY Arts Award.

Ed Whitfield is Co-Founder and Co-Managing Director of the Fund for Democratic Communities, which fosters the building of authentic democracy  in communities and social justice groups. F4DC was instrumental in the development and opening of the Renaissance Community Coop, community owned grocery in a Greensboro neighborhood that has been a food desert since 1998.  Ed is social critic and writer on issues of cooperative economic development, race, education and militarism. He is on the national boards of The Working World and the New Economy Coalition. Ed is also a blues and jazz musician.

Corey Madden is the Executive Director of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at NC School of the Arts. Madden served as Associate Artistic Director of the Mark Taper Forum from 1993-2007.  In addition, she is an award-winning writer and director in theatre and film and the founder of L’Atelier Arts, which creates multi-disciplinary and site-specific projects around the world.

Cooperative Community of New West Jackson (short version) from He-myong Woo on Vimeo.