Franklin Furnace Fund Recipients 2015-16

(Brooklyn, NY)Melanie Crean, Shaun Leonardo, and Sable Elyse Smith

Project Description

“The Adventures of Don Quixote” is a performance and video project created by artists (Melanie Crean, Sable Elyse Smith, Shaun Leonardo) and individuals affected by the justice system. Using performance prompts related to the Cervantes novel, the group will translate stories of detention into movement and sound. Depiction will be further informed by comparing mass-media representations of race, gender, and urban culture to self-portrayal. Vignettes will be recorded in an empty prison and vacant courthouse, experimenting with the relation of context, perspective and meaning. Work will result in an exhibition, performance series, and annotated compilation of process and methods.


Melanie Crean is an interdisciplinary artist and teacher based in New York, whose creative practice investigates relationships between space, speech and social structures of control. She works with video, networked and immersive media to investigate contested sites and oppressive architectures. Crean is an Assistant Professor at Parsons, teaching classes in new forms of cinema, narrative and visual culture. She previously directed Eyebeam’s production studio, and produced documentaries on the effects of women trafficking in South Asia. Crean has received awards from Art in General, Bronx Arts Council, NYFA, NYSCA, Performa 11, Rhizome, Creative Time, Franklin Furnace and No Longer Empty.

Shaun Leonardo is a multidisciplinary artist who uses modes of self-portraiture as a means to convey the complexities of masculine identity and question preconceived notions of manhood. Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist from Queens, New York City. His work has been presented in galleries and institutions, nationally and internationally, and is currently featured in the exhibitions Radical Presence at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Between History and the Body at the 8th Floor Gallery in New York City.

Sable Elyse Smith is an interdisciplinary artist & writer based in New York. Her practice considers memory and trauma while enacting an undoing of language. She works from the archive of her own body creating new syntax for knowing and not knowing, thereby marking the difference between witnessing and watching. To see is unbearable. She has performed at the New Museum, Eyebeam, Queens Museum, NY; and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA. Her work has been published in “Radical Teacher,” “Studio Magazine,” and “No Tofu Magazine.” Smith received a fellowship from Skowhegan School of Sculpture and Painting and is currently part-time faculty at Parsons The New School for Design.