Franklin Furnace Fund Recipients 2018-19

Panel Biographies

Becca Blackwell

Becca Blackwell is a NYC based trans actor, performer and writer. Existing between genders, and preferring the pronoun "they," Blackwell works collaboratively with playwrights and directors to expand our sense of personhood and the body through performance. Some of their collaborations have been with Young Jean Lee, Half Straddle, Jennifer Miller's Circus Amok, Richard Maxwell, Erin Markey, Sharon Hayes, Theater of the Two Headed Calf and Lisa D'Amour. Film/TV includes Shameless, Deadmans Barstool, Jack in the Box. Becca is a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award. They will be in Madeleine George's Hurricane Diane at NYTW Spring 2019, directed by Leigh Silverman. Be on the lookout for their solo show They, Themself and Schmerm in a town near you.

Naimah Hassan

Licensed Theater teacher, artist, director, Improv and audition prep coach and has taught in the New York City school system for over 20 years in elementary and middle schools. Naimah contributed to the NYCDOE’S Curriculum Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Theater and continues to be a facilitator for the NYCDOE professional development for certified theater teachers and artist. Naimah is a trained mindfulness meditation teacher for over 20 years, who has facilitated workshops for teachers and students and leads retreats in New York City.

The Theater games workshops and Life Story telling with Naimah Hassan at FRANKLIN FURNACE explores movement, voice, text, and performance through acting, mimicry, pantomime, mindfulness techniques, and theatre. THEATRE GAMES helps children gain individual and communal experience with creative expression, public performance, and identity formation by allowing them to present their own life narratives.

Shelly Mars

Shelly Mars is a multimedia performance artist whose work explores sexuality and power using an expanding catalog of created personae. An originator of 80s/90s queer performance culture, she is recognized as a pioneer of contemporary alternative comedy and transgressive solo theater.

Mars has performed for over 30 years across the United States and worldwide. Her monologues appear in many publications including Creating Your Own Monologue, alongside work by Karen Finley and Spalding Gray. Mars’ work has also been cited in many academic journals including Marjorie Garber’s Vested Interests: Cross Dressing and Cultural Anxiety.

Mars has performed over 15 solo shows, including Sex on Mars, Invasion from Mars, and The Homo Bonobo Project, her quixotic multimedia performance piece studying the sexuality of the Bonobo apes, which has been performed at NYU, Performa, and the Brooklyn Museum.

In 2017, Mars released “From Mars”, a series of high quality prints documenting seminal moments in her performance work, along with lithographs inspired by The Homo Bonobo Project. Her next multimedia performance piece is currently in development and will incorporate these images, as well as a chimerical video works.

Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga approaches art as a social practice that seeks to establish dialogue in public spaces. Having been born of immigrant parents and grown up between Nicaragua and San Francisco, a strong awareness of inequality and discrimination was established at an early age. Themes such as immigration, discrimination, gentrification and the effects of globalization extend from highly subjective experiences and observations into works that tactically engage others through populist metaphors while maintaining critical perspectives.

Ricardo’s work has been exhibited at galleries, festivals and museums internationally, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the New York Hall of Science, the Museum of the Moving Image, El Museo del Barrio, the Bronx Museum, the Kitchen New York City; el Matadero Madrid, Spain; Museo de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile; OK Center for Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria; Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, Mexico. Recent awards and honors include Ammerman Center Independent Scholar Fellowship, Connecticut College (2018); HIAP Artist in Residence, Helsinki, Finland (2013); Eyebeam Artist in Residence (2008); New York Foundation for the Arts 2007 Fellowship; Tides Foundation Lambent Fellowship (2006-2009).

Jack Waters

JACK WATERS is a visual artist, film maker, writer, media artist, choreographer and performer.

His most recent project is the production of "Pestilence" at LaMama Experimental Theater in 2019, a hybrid performance work combining cinema, immersive interactivity, and musical opus. Jack is known as the performer and co-writer in the title role of the 2016 film "Jason And Shirley" directed by Stephen Winter.

Jack's visual art was represented in 2014 in the Visual AIDS exhibition "Ephemera As Evidence" at La Mama Galleria, and in 2013 at "NOT OVER: 25 Years of Visual AIDS" also at La Galleria, and in "Not only this, but 'New language beckons us'" at Fales Library and Special Collections, NYU. He exhibited in the 2008 three person show "Triple Threat" at Frise, the gallery in Hamburg Germany.

Collections housing Water's works include NYC Library Of Performing Arts, The Film Makers' Cooperative, NYC Public Library AIDS Activist Video Collection, and the archives of Allied Productions, Inc., the non profit arts umbrella organization that he and Cramer co-founded and manage. Waters and Cramer are subjects of an oral history on the website and catalogue of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.