Fellows & Grantees

Jaleesa Renee Wells

SSRC Arts Research with Communities of Color (ARCC) Fellowship 2023


Jaleesa Renee Wells, PhD, is an artist, entrepreneur, and interdisciplinary scholar investigating the intersections between culture, society, and enterprise. She is an assistant professor of arts administration at the University of Kentucky. As an Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellow, she will conduct a year-long ethnographic research project with the Oakland-based Artist as First ResponderBlack Cultural Zone, and EastSide Arts Alliance. She’s published on Black representation in cultural policy (in Arts Management & Cultural Policy Across the African Diaspora), hybrid entrepreneurial contexts and concepts (in the Research Handbook on The Sociology of Organizations), and Black women’s experiences in higher educational institutions (Gender Work and Organization, and in The Palgrave Handbook of Imposter Syndrome in Higher Education). Her current research focuses on developing creative and cultural social enterprise ecologies; anthropologies of Black women’s cultural organizing; and phenomenologies of work, art, and gender in the academy. She is the founder and CEO of her family-run funky wearable art social enterprise, BossiRainbow LLC.

Jaleesa Renee Wells and EastSide Arts Alliance, Black Cultural Zone, and Artist as First Responder
Dr. Wells explores the interconnections between the three arts organizations as they come together and blend their distinct socio-cultural contexts. In three parallel projects, Dr. Wells will conduct research that illuminates their oral histories from the voices of their community stakeholders; maps the archival landscapes of Black culture; and reviews the constructions of cultural hubs as sites for Black cultures to emerge and exist in perpetuity.