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.
Jibz Cameron - 2023
Jamire Williams – 2023
Jamire Williams is a multidisciplinary artist whose work includes music performance, performance art, composition, and sculpture. His practice focuses on faith, spirituality, roots and the evidence of those things which are not seen. His list of collaborators includes Solange Knowles, Herbie Hancock, Virgil Abloh, Kara Walker, Jason Moran, Dev Hynes, Robert Glasper, Moses Sumney, Kahlil Joseph, Jamal Cyrus, Ari Marcopoulos, Christian Scott, Jeff Parker, Chassol and Carlos Niño.
Williams has a deep resume as a recording artist, and has distinguished himself across avant-garde, jazz, and indie music genres seamlessly. His 2016 lead-artist effort ///// EFFECTUAL is a powerful solo percussion statement that established his affinity for minimalism, his approach of the drum kit as a canvas for “painting,” and his embrace of abstraction as a holistic practice in sound. He has been the touring drummer for Blood Orange since 2018. “Working with Jamire is like working with someone who knows the map of your brain, better than you even do. In London, taxi drivers have to take a test called “The Knowledge” in order to know the streets by heart alone. This is how I would describe Jamire’s instincts and intuition in regards to music. It’s like he was there when the idea was formed.” – Dev Hynes
He was a prominent performer at The Whitney Museum of American Art for Jason Moran’s exhibition Jazz On A High Floor In The Afternoon (2019) and has since presented and/or installed works at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Brookfield Place (New York, NY). As a featured musician on a plethora of major and indie record label releases, the culmination of those endeavors is clearly portrayed throughout his most recent solo release But Only After You Have Suffered out on International Anthem. Though it is a project that the artist has stepped away from, the gravity of its production is ever apparent. “If constraint is both virtuous and virtuosic, then poetic utterance provides the musical device for song to bleed back through; Jamire Williams’ offerings are conjurations setting light on this very place.” – The Quietus
Jamire was a key contributor and writer on Solange’s critically-acclaimed 2019 album When I Get Home, a direct expression of her appreciation for her roots in Houston, Texas (the city where Jamire was born, raised, and currently resides). Since relocating to Houston in 2021, Williams has been an artist in residence at Lawndale Art & Performance Center (Houston, TX) as a member of their 2021/22 Artist Studio Program and was recently granted artist in residence for Ballroom Sessions–The Farther Place at Ballroom Marfa for 2023.
Johanna Unzueta – 2022
Johanna Unzueta lives and works at New York and Berlin. Unzueta studied art at the Universidad Católica de Chile and has exhibited extensively throughout Europe, North and South America. In 2020 she had a major solo exhibition, Tools for Life by the Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, UK. in 2020; Field Station: Johanna Unzueta, From My Head to My Toes, to My Teeth to My Nose presented by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University in 2019. Unzueta was recently featured in the group exhibitions Drawing in the Continuous Present, The Drawing Center, New York (2022); O rio e uma Serpiente, 3rd edition de Frestas – Trienal de Artes, Sesc São Paulo. Brazil (2020); Searching the Sky for Rain, Sculpture Center, New York (2019); What’s Love Got to Do With It? as part of the 2018–20 Open Sessions programme at The Drawing Center, New York (2019); and was included in We Do Not Need Another Hero,X Berlin Biennale (2018). Further solo exhibitions have been shown at Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, México City (2017); Jewett Art Gallery, Wellesley College (2017); and Queens Museum of Art, Flushing Meadows (2009). Residencies and awards include : Akademie der Künste and NEUSTART KULTUR “With the support of Akanemie der Künste, Berlin (2021) Launch Pad LaB, La Boissière, France (2019); The Frieze-Tate Fund, Frieze Art Fair, London; La Tallera, Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in Cuernavaca, Mexico (2015), DIVA, Danish Arts Council Committee for International Visual Arts (2012), and Capacete, Rio de Janeiro (2007).
Unzueta‘s works has been included in the collection of The Whitney Museum of New York (2022); Frac Bretagne, France (2022), The Tate Modern of London, UK (2018), The Queens Museum, New York (2009).
Morgan Bassichis – 2022
Morgan Bassichis is a comedic performer who has been called “a tall child or, well, a big bird” by The Nation and “fiercely hilarious” by The New Yorker. Morgan’s book of to-do lists, The Odd Years, was published by Wendy’s Subway in 2020. They were included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial and in Greater New York 2015 at MoMA PS1.
Past shows include Don’t Rain On My Bat Mitzvah (co-created with Ira Khonen Temple, Creative Time, 2021), Nibbling the Hand that Feeds Me (Whitney Museum, NYC, 2019), Klezmer for Beginners (co-created with Ethan Philbrick, Abrons Arts Center, NYC, 2019), Damned If You Duet (The Kitchen, NYC, 2018), More Protest Songs! (Danspace Project, NYC, 2018), and The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions: The Musical (co-created with TM Davy, DonChristian Jones, Michi Ilona Osato, and Una Aya Osato, New Museum, NYC, 2017).
Morgan has released two albums: March is for Marches with Ethan Philbrick (2019) and More Protest Songs! Live From St. Mark’s Church (2018). They edited and wrote the introduction for Nightboat Books’ 2019 edition of Larry Mitchell and Ned Asta’s 1977 The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions.
They live in New York City.
Guadalupe Maravilla – 2022
Guadalupe Maravilla is a transdisciplinary visual artist, choreographer, and healer. At the age of eight, Maravilla was part of the first wave of unaccompanied, undocumented children to arrive at the United States border in the 1980s as a result of the Salvadoran Civil War. In 2016, Maravilla became a U.S. citizen and adopted the name Guadalupe Maravilla in solidarity with his undocumented father, who uses Maravilla as his last name. As an acknowledgement of his own migratory past, Maravilla grounds his practice in the historical and contemporary contexts of immigrant culture, particularly those belonging to Latinx communities.
Maravilla currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Additionally, he has performed and presented his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Queens Museum, The Bronx Museum of the Arts and many more.
Awards and fellowships include; Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship 2019, Soros Fellowship: Art Migration and Public Space 2019, Map fund 2019, Creative Capital Grant 2016, Franklin Furnace 2018, Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant 2016, Art Matters Fellowship 2017, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship 2018, Dedalus Foundation Grant 2013 and The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation Award 2003. Residencies include; LMCC Workspace, SOMA, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Drawing Center Open Sessions.
Jesse Chun – 2022
Jesse Chun is an artist whose work explores language, translation, historiography, and inherited lyrics. Working with found institutional narratives and documents as a site of departure, Chun’s practice (mis)translates and uncovers new immersive poetics. Spanning video, installation, film, sculpture, drawing, and sound, Chun’s work meditates on linguistic ruptures, diasporic and non-linear passages of meaning, time, and the untranslatable.
Chun has exhibited internationally at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (Canada); the Nam June Paik Art Center (South Korea); SculptureCenter, NY; Queens Museum, NY; The Drawing Center, NY; BAM, NY; and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, NY (all in the United States), among others. Recent awards and fellowships include Art by Translation (Paris, 2022); Ballroom Marfa (Texas, 2021), and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant (US, 2020); Smack Mellon (NY, 2020); Triple Canopy (NY, 2019); and the NEA fellowship at ISCP (NY, 2019). Select public collections include the Museum of Modern Art Library (NY); the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (IL); the Smithsonian Institution (DC); Whitney Museum Library (NY); Asia Art Archive in America (NY); and Kadist Art Foundation (FR). Chun teaches at Parsons School of Design and New York University. Chun works and lives in New York.
EJ Hill – 2021
EJ Hill (b. 1985, Los Angeles, CA) is an artist whose practice incorporates painting, writing, installation, and performance as a way to elevate bodies and amplify voices that have long been rendered invisible and inaudible by oppressive social structures. This multifaceted approach stems from an endurance-based performance practice that pushes his physical and mental limits in order to expand the conditions, parameters, and possibilities that determine a body.
His work has been presented in both national and international exhibitions including: For a Dreamer of Houses, Dallas Museum of Art (2020); The Lily League, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University (2020); Lost Without Your Rhythm, Aspen Art Museum (2018); Made in L.A. Hammer Museum Biennial (2018); Rendez-vous/14th Lyon Biennale, Institut d’Art Contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, France (2017); Artists of Color, The Underground Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Future Generation Art Prize, 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2017); The Necessary Reconditioning of the Highly Deserving, Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles (2017); and Tenses: Artists in Residence 2015-16, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2016).
Hill has received several honors and awards including a Fellowship at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University (2018-19); Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award (2018); Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant (2018); Los Angeles Artadia Award (2018); Art Matters Foundation Grant (2017); The William H. Johnson Prize (2016); and a Fellowship for Visual Artists from the California Community Foundation, Los Angeles (2015). He was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize, Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Kyiv (2017) and was an Artist-in-Residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2015-16).Hill received an MFA from University of California, Los Angeles (2013) and a BFA from Columbia College Chicago (2011).
For the residency, multidisciplinary artist and musician Jeffrey Michael Austin participated in collaboration with Hill. Austin (b. 1988) is based in Chicago. Their work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, with recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions at Chicago Art Department, Heaven Gallery Chicago, Bert Green Fine Art (Chicago) and The Luminary (St. Louis, MO).
Austin also composes, performs and produces all musical scores for Growing Concerns Poetry Collective. Recent selected performance venues include The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Steppenwolf Theatre, NPR Tiny Desk Tour and the Smart Museum of Art. Austin studied at Columbia College Chicago and the Burren College of Art in Ireland before receiving their BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014.
Elle Pérez – 2021
Elle Pérez (b. 1989) is an artist from the Bronx, NY who works primarily in photography. Elle Pérez’s photographs show the experience of pushing the body. Pérez’s subjects transform themselves, altering their bodies to create pleasure, pain, communion, and self-recognition.
Working closely with their peers from the LGBTQIA+ community as their subjects, Pérez visualizes the complexities of gender identity: the scars left behind on a subject’s chest after surgery, intertwined limbs after a moment of intimacy, a worn and tattered breast binder. Imbued with desire and a profound sense of care for their subjects, the photographs depict the traces of queer experiences and reflect the ever changing nature of identity.
Pérez relates this undefinable and unboundaried quality of queerness to photography, calling the “photograph a perfect container because it is not actually, ever, definitive.”
Pérez has held solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1 and 47 Canal. Their work has been exhibited at The Whitney Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, and the Barbican, London, among other venues. They are currently an Assistant Professor of Art, Film, and Visual Studies at Harvard University, and have also taught at the Yale School of Art, Cooper Union, and Williams College. They were a Dean at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture from 2016 to 2019.
Pérez received an MFA in photography from Yale School of Art, New Haven (2015) and a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore (2011).
Li(sa E.) Harris – 2021
Lisa E. Harris, Li, is an independent and interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, creative soprano, performer, composer, improviser, writer, singer/songwriter and educator from Houston, Texas.
Recognized by Huffington Post as “one of fourteen artists transforming Opera,” Li’s work resists genre classification as she focuses on the energetic relationships between body, land, spirit and place. Using voice, theremin, photography, movement, improvisation, meditation, and new media to explore spatial awareness, substantivalism, relationalism, intuition, panoptic surveillance, sonification and personification, Li maintains a focused concentration on healing in performance and living. She is the founder and creative director of Studio Enertia, an arts collective and production company in Houston Texas. Li is the 2021 recipient of the Dorothea Tanning Award for Music/ Sound, awarded by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
Rob Mazurek – 2021
Rob Mazurek (b.1965) is a multidisciplinary artist and abstractivist, focusing on electro-acoustic composition, improvisation, performance, painting, sculpture, film, and installation, who spent much of his creative life in Chicago and Brazil. He currently lives and works in Marfa, Texas.
Emerging from the musical nexus of the 1990s in Chicago, he’s written more than 400 compositions and is featured on more than 70 recordings . He’s led or co-led many ensembles – including the Exploding Star Orchestra (feat. Bill Dixon, Roscoe Mitchell), Chicago Underground (Duo, Trio, Quartet & Orchestra), Isotope 217 (alongside members of Tortoise), Pharoah and the Underground (feat. Pharoah Sanders), Alien Flower Sutra (with Emmett Kelly), São Paulo Underground, and a duo with Jeff Parker.
While Mazurek’s solo work as a musician expands from cornet, piano, and piccolo trumpet to musique concrete and electronic experimentation, his composition for large ensemble reveals an intuitive sense of scale. In 2005 he was commissioned by the Chicago Cultural Center and the Jazz Institute of Chicago to assemble a group representing the diversity of the city’s contemporary avant-garde. Mazurek amassed a 14-piece ensemble and began composing music for what became his Exploding Star Orchestra (ESO). Including musicians from the often-segregated communities of Chicago’s North, South, and West sides, ESO debuted in the urban epicenter of Chicago’s Millennium Park and, shortly after, went into John McEntire’s Soma Studios to record “We Are All From Somewhere Else” (Thrill Jockey, 2007). ESO’s discography also includes “Galactic Parables Vol. 1,” the 2015 triple LP released on Cuneiform Records, as well as “Dimensional Stardust,” released in June 2020 on International Anthem Recording Company/Nonesuch Records.
Mazurek’s multi-media projects have been supported by major arts institutions including: the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts (Chicago, IL), Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud (Fontevraud, France), Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Foundation (Chicago, IL), New Music USA (New York, NY), The Andy Warhol Museum, (Pittsburgh, PA), and the Robert D. Bielecki Foundation (New York, NY), among others. Recent solo exhibitions include Cosmic Stacks (2020), presented by Meccaniche della Meraviglia at Fondazione Vittorio Leonesio (Brescia, Italy); Resonant Stacks (2019) at MorettoCavour (Brescia, Italy); Desert Encrypts: Volume 2 (2019) at Marfa Book Company (Marfa, TX); and Extensions and Other Dimensions at Wrong (Marfa, TX).
Rob Frye – 2020
Rob Frye plays woodwinds, percussion, and synthesizers in Chicago-based bands Bitchin Bajas, Jackie Lynn, and CAVE (Drag City), tours internationally, and has recorded with Ben Lamar Gay (International Anthem), Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith (Western Vinyl), and Circuit des Yeux (Thrill Jockey) among others. Since 2010, his project Flux Bikes has held solar-powered workshops, annual bike tours, and performances. In the field of jazz and improvised music, he collaborates often in Chicago and participated in the second edition of The Bridge, a trans-Atlantic network of creative music linking France and Chicago in May 2019; and Close To There, an artistic exchange allying Salvador, Bahia and Chicago through Comfort Station and Projeto Ativa in February 2020.
Roberto Carlos Lange & Kristi Sword – 2020
Roberto Carlos Lange
Roberto Carlos Lange, Helado Negro (1980) is South Florida native, born to Ecuadorian immigrants and based in Brooklyn. Exploring Latinx identity, and pluralistic sensibilities, his music as Helado Negro is lyrically personal and politically avant-pop. In 2019 he was awarded a United States Artists Fellow in Music and also the recipient of a 2019 Grants to Artists award in Music from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Helado Negro has presented work in diverse venues from clubs to cultural organizations including the Wexner Center, Columbus, OH; The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA.; Marguilies Warehouse, Miami, FL; Club 2 Club, Turin, Italy; Vive Latino, Mexico City; the Perez Art Museum, Miami, FL; and the Museum of Modern Art, NY.
Kristi Sword (1980) is a visual artist working in small scale kinetic sculpture and drawing. Entry into her sculptural work was through her formal jewelry training. She received her B.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design and her M.F.A. from SUNY New Paltz both in Metal and Jewelry. Kristi has shown her artwork at the 92nd St Y in Tribeca as well as the NARS Project Space in Brooklyn. She has made album cover artwork for Helado Negro and Warm Ghost and has completed artist residencies at the Oregon College of Art and Craft and at Marble House.
Ballroom Sessions—The Farther Place is made possible by the generous support of The Brown Foundation, Inc.; Lebermann Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Texas Commission on the Arts; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Ballroom Marfa’s Board of Trustees, International Surf Club, Rachel & Jeff Arnold, Elizabeth Serlenga, Charles Butt, Candace Worth, Louisa Stude Sarofim, Grace Sheehan, Sara Carter, Lenard & Fern Tessler, Fernando Yanez, Kevin Flynn & Kathleen McDaniel, Beth Rudin De Woody, Kathleen Irvin Loughlin, Eleanor Acquavella Dejoux, Karen Hillenburg, Christopher Hill & Lachlan Miles, Alexander Logsdail, Ryan Latham, Kathleen Irvin Loughlin, Katharine Barthelme, and Robert Longo.