Ballroom Marfa Art Fund
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Ballroom Sessions—The Farther Place



Marfa, Texas


Ballroom Sessions—The Farther Place supports artists and musicians to create new work. Past artists-in-residence included: Roberto Carlos Lange & Kristi Sword,  EJ Hill, Elle Pérez, Johanna Unzueta, Morgan Bassichis, Jesse Chun, Li(sa E.) Harris, and Guadalupe Maravilla. 2023 artists-in-residence include: Jamire Williams, Dynasty Handbag, Lori Scacco, Newman Taylor Baker, and more to be announced.

Through in-depth site visits, residencies, research, studio space or production, artists can explore nascent ideas in their practice. Ballroom Sessions prompts questions like: How do artists think and make work in these times? How can an arts organization serve artists? What kind of support is most generous to artists and musicians right now, especially if they experiment between mediums and forms? How can Ballroom continue to commission timely work during the pandemic? 

Ballroom Sessions encourages cross-disciplinary processes, facilitates research of the culture and landscape of the region, and connects artists to local partners and experts. During and after these residencies, participating artists will present their new works for the public in a number of ways ranging from releasing music and film, audio lectures, interviews and more, through Ballroom’s unique channels.

The “Farther Place” connotes not only a physically distant location, but also a zone for experimentation. Through incubation and production, artists can go deeper into a farther place within their practices. Their ideas and artworks move out into the world beyond Far West Texas. As a point of inspiration Sun Ra conjures us to move beyond our (earthly) limits in his poem “The Farther”:


Get over into the spirit of things

Thus the movement is on. . . .

Ever moving toward

The farther place or the

Place of the farther. . .


Ballroom Sessions—The Farther Place is organized by Ballroom Marfa’s Music Curator Sarah Melendez and Curator Daisy Nam.

Newman Taylor Baker - 2023

With his project WashboardXT, Newman Taylor Baker is an innovator of the washboard as an acoustic and electronically-enhanced musical instrument. In acknowledgment of visual artist Betye Saar’s revolutionary washboard assemblages, WashboardXT transforms a simple tool of drudgery—and a precursor of the drum set—into a powerful, expressive contemporary instrument with a full range of tonal and harmonic capability. Committed to developing the washboard’s repertoire, Baker moves the instrument from nineteenth-century Black string band music to today’s sound palette, performing in a broad range of artistic genres.

Since 2010, Baker has been developing the washboard body, hardware and software components, sound palettes, notation, terminology, and performance technique, with the goal of encouraging new compositions and a permanent musical place for the washboard. Focusing on the physical instrument, he creates a new acoustic sound for the washboard by dampening the corrugated metal with Gaffer tape, gluing the metal to the wooden frame, and treating the frame with polyurethane. This makes the instrument highly sensitive to touch, thus expanding its expressive language. With the washboard on his lap, Baker uses four 12-gauge expended shotgun shells on each hand to create a clearer, more distinct sound. A contact microphone connected to a multi-effects pedal and an air microphone playing through a preamp both lead to a two-channel amplifier. This allows Baker to create a digital sonic palette with effects such as delay, flange, and reverb, and to use music software such as Ableton Live.

Baker started on the washboard with The Ebony Hillbillies, a New York City-based Black string band, following his career as a drummer performing with composers such as Henry Threadgill, Leroy Jenkins, and Diedre Murray, and his drum set project, Singin’ Drums. He composed and performed a score for One in 7 (2022), an award-winning short documentary featuring three male domestic abuse survivors in a Texas shelter, produced by Healing Voices – Personal Stories.

He has received New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Music/Sound (2019) and Music Composition (2000), a New Music USA project grant (2018), and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1971).

Lori Scacco - 2023

Lori Scacco is a composer and producer based in New York City. Incorporating sustained tone clusters, electroacoustic resonance, melody, repetition, and destructive signal processing, her work is informed by minimalism yet rooted in narrative traditions. Her scores and site-specific installations span the worlds of art, film, classical dance, and performance. Select commissions have been presented by Ambient Church (NY), Ballroom Marfa (TX), the Joyce Theater (NY), the Lancaster Museum of Art and History (CA), and MoMA PS1 (NY), as well as film festivals worldwide. Scacco has been an ensemble member of Savath + Savalas and Helado Negro, and is one half of psych-folk duo Storms with Eva Puyuelo (Savath + Savalas). Her solo and collaborative recordings appear on a number of experimental labels in the US, UK, Australia, and Japan. She has remixed patten, Holopaw, Certain Creatures, Same Waves, and Leverage Models. Scacco released her first solo album, Circles, on Eastern Developments, and was the co-founder and guitarist of Seely, the first American band on Too Pure. Her latest piece is The Order of Things, out on Longform Editions, and her most recent film work is the score to Another Hayride, a documentary by Matt Wolf.