The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is pleased to announce the selection of the second cohort of Arts Research with Communities of Color (ARCC) Fellows. The ARCC program is an initiative devoted to exploring how social science research can contribute to a thriving and more equitable arts field through empirical research, theory building, and analysis, in addition to supporting a new generation of researchers. 

With generous support from The Wallace Foundation, the ARCC Fellows will receive funding to conduct 12-month qualitative-ethnographic studies in collaboration with select organizations participating in Wallace’s arts initiative. The initiative provides grants to arts organizations founded by, with, and for communities of color across the country to help advance their organizational well-being and that of their communities. Each arts organization has been paired with an ARCC Fellow, who will explore its unique history, culture, and context to produce helpful information for the organization and community arts organizations of color more broadly. Collectively, through cross-cutting analyses, Fellows’ research will also contribute novel, empirically-grounded insights to broader research and policy fields. 

The ARCC Fellowship competition was open to early-career scholars in the social sciences and humanities. It consisted of a rigorous, multistage review process by an independent committee of experts engaged in community/arts research and practice. Evaluation criteria included motivation and professional relevance, research experience, relevant cultural knowledge and experience, and commitment to equity and impact. After selecting a finalist pool, SSRC program staff worked closely with the arts organizations and Wallace to identify appropriate matches between finalists and organizations. Ultimately, seven outstanding early-career scholars were awarded 2023 ARCC Fellowships. 

In addition to their research, ARCC Fellows will participate in cohort-wide activities to encourage intracohort learning and professional growth. These activities will include development workshops with program staff and the ARCC Research Advisory Committee (RAC), and mentorship opportunities with RAC members. Through cohort-level initiatives, the SSRC will support the networking of early-career researchers with one another and with leading researchers and practitioners in the field. A primary goal of the SSRC and The Wallace Foundation is to help build a community of early-career scholars, particularly scholars of color, to pursue innovative research about the arts that emphasizes equity and intersectionality.


Amanda Boston

Amanda Boston is an assistant professor of Africana studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Her current projects explore gentrification’s racial operations in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, and their role in the making and unmaking of the borough’s Black communities. As an Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellow, she will conduct a year-long ethnographic research project with the Brooklyn-based Laundromat Project. Boston holds a PhD and an MA in Africana studies from Brown University, an MA in political science, and a BA in political science and African & African American studies from Duke University. She is a trustee emerita of Brown and a member of the board of directors of the Municipal Art Society of New York. She also sits on the alumni council of the New York City-based Prep for Prep program, which provides students of color with life-changing educational and leadership opportunities.

The Laundromat Project
Amanda Boston and The Laundromat Project (The LP) are designing and executing an ethnographic research project that engages artists, neighbors, and peer organizations. The project will explore how the organization can best harness its resources and use the arts to foster community and collective neighborhood power. Findings will shape programming and literature, as well as The LP’s approaches to relationship-building with community members and organizations locally and beyond.
J.V. Decemvirale

J.V. Decemvirale is an assistant professor of art history and global cultures at Cal State San Bernardino. As an Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellow, he will conduct a year-long ethnographic research project with the Los Angeles-based Self-Help Graphics & Art, Inc. An Angeleno of Italian and Peruvian descent, his research focuses on contemporary American community art politics. Decemvirale most recently published a chapter in the anthology Self Help Graphics at Fifty (UC Press, 2023), an exploration of the storied Latinx art organization’s aesthetic foundations. He is currently working on his book, Keeping Fires in the Hinterlands, a decolonial untwining of art’s hidden histories as a tool of epistemic conquest and resistance. His research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the California Institute of Technology, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Self Help Graphics & Art, Inc
In collaboration with Self Help Graphics, Decemvirale will conduct oral histories, interviews, and organize public discussions exploring the organization’s fifty-year history. Culminating in an ethnographic research report, the ambition is to situate Self Help’s current programs within the organization’s long history of experimental cultural work. Documenting strategies that have been both successful and unsuccessful, this report will serve as a resource for thinking through the future of community–artist collaboration in Los Angeles. In keeping with Self Help’s values, much of the historical research and conversations with contemporary artists and stakeholders will be presented to the public in a podcast, tentatively titled, Days of the Dead.
Claudia Sofía Garriga-López

Claudia Sofía Garriga-López is an assistant professor of queer and trans Latinx studies in the Department of Multicultural and Gender Studies of California State University, Chico.  As an Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellow, she will conduct a year-long ethnographic research project with the San Juan-based Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Puerto Rico. She has a PhD in American studies from New York University. She is working on her book manuscript titled Gender for All. She conducted long-term participatory research with trans, feminist, and queer activists and artist groups in Quito, Ecuador, and is currently researching transfeminism’s emergence in Puerto Rico. Garriga-López is the author of “Transfeminist Crossroads: Reimagining the Ecuadorian State” published in TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly (2016), and is also one of the coeditors for the “Trans Studies en las Américas” issue of TSQ (2019). Her scholarship and visual art have been featured in several publications, including Sinister Wisdom, the Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History, and Latinas: Struggles and Protest in Twenty-First Century USA. Her scholarly work is grounded in a critical engagement with activism, public policy, and public health, as well as trans, feminist, and queer performance art and cultural production in Latin America, the Caribbean, and within people of color communities in the United States.

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico
Claudia Sofía Garriga-López and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MAC) are developing an organizational history of the MAC en el Barrio, a program that hires local artists to develop artistic projects with local community members in towns all over Puerto Rico. Dr. Garriga-López is conducting participant observation and interviews with MAC staff, artists, and community members who have participated in the programming of MAC en el Barrio, as well as archival research. Her findings will be published in a collection of essays in celebration of the tenth year anniversary of MAC en el Barrio.
siri gurudev hernández

siri gurudev hernández is a trans nonbinary writer, performance artist, activist, and researcher from what we know today as Bogotá, Colombia. As an Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellow, they will conduct a year-long ethnographic research project with the San Antonio-based Esperanza Peace & Justice Center. They have a PhD in theater and performance studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Their work orbits around the questioning and destabilization of the gender binary, the visibilization of racialized gendered violence, and the transformative work of embodied critical spirituality. hernández encountered performance when they started gender transition and joined activist collectives in their home city in 2011. They got fascinated by the political potency of Latinx/e performance art, site-specific work, and street activism.

Esperanza Peace & Justice Center
Dr. hernández will study the unique history, culture, and values of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center through a creative ethnography that includes participatory research, surveys, interviews, and heart-felt convivencia. They will focus on the ways Esperanza embodies solidarity across minority groups in San Antonio and beyond.
kt shorb

kt shorb is an assistant professor of theater and dance at Macalester College. They are also a director, scholar, and facilitator. As an Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellow, they will conduct a year-long ethnographic research project with the Saint Paul-based Theater Mu. They hold a BM in music composition from Oberlin Conservatory, an MA in media studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD in performance as public practice from UT-Austin. shorb’s scholarship is rooted in critical race studies, queer studies, performance studies, and creative practice-as-research. It examines how queer people of color theater artists enact heroic and spectacular moments that defy common-sense notions of physics. They recently published Reappropriation, Reparative Creativity, and Feeling Yellow in Generic Ensemble Company’s The Mikado: Reclaimed. shorb also stage directs opera and has directed for Wolf Trap Opera and Chicago Summer Opera. shorb is currently the vice president for the Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists, the only national service organization for theater artists of the Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora.

Theater Mu
Using interviews, practice-as-research, participant observation, focus groups, and archival research, shorb is exploring Mu’s importance in Asian American aesthetic and notions of “home.” They will also create a narrative around Mu’s history in the Twin Cities and its impact on the Asian American community both locally and nationally that will also be part of an executive report exploring the feasibility of a potential capital campaign.
Silvia Rodriguez Vega

Silvia Rodriguez Vega is a community-engaged writer, artist, and educator. She is an assistant professor at UCSB’s Department of Chicana/o Studies. As an Arts Research with Communities of Color Fellow, she will conduct a year-long ethnographic research project with the San Francisco-based Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project. Her research explores how anti-immigration policy impacts immigrant children’s lives through methodological tools centering on participatory art and creative expression. Her first book, titled Drawing Deportation: Art and Resistance among Immigrant Children, was published by NYU Press in 2023. Based on ten years of work with immigrant children in Arizona and California, Drawing Deportation gives readers a glimpse into the lives of immigrant children and their families. Her research interests also focus on Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), ethnic studies, K–12 education, mixed-status families, transborder relations, and arts and artivism through performance and digital media.

Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project
Dr. Rodriguez Vega will be conducting a participatory ethnographic research project. Additionally, we will be creating an augmented fotonovela/digital zine, communicating the values guiding the work of QWOCMAP throughout the last 20+ years.
Jaleesa Renee Wells

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 Responder, Black 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.

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.