Mission Statement

The newest project for Indie Grits Labs is “Two Cities.” The project will focus its activities in North Columbia, seeking to promote an open, inclusive, and welcoming dialogue through vibrant social events and original, place-based works of art with an eye towards social practice artworks, community collaboration and sustainability. By engaging artists and community members in a collaborative incubator, Two Cities is exploring how racial and socioeconomic factors define our experiences and interactions within our shared city.

In a series of workshops and public forums beginning in August 2017 and running through the festival in April 2018, a selected cohort of artists (filmmakers, artists, activists, community organizers, agriculturalists, etc) primarily residing in North Columbia will work with community stakeholders and partnering organizations including SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, Richland County Library, SC Arts Commission, One Columbia, Hyatt Park Keenan Terrace Neighborhood Association, and the North Columbia Business Association amongst others to address issues such as race, gentrification, arts funding inequities, housing displacement, and unification of the North Main corridor. Artworks will be revealed by the cohort during the 2018 Indie Grits Festival, taking place April 12-15.

Creative Leadership Team

Labs Director: Seth Gadsden
Seth Gadsden is an artist, filmmaker, curator, and founding member of the artist collective Transit Antenna with which he spent two years traveling across North America developing community-based art projects. Seth was a founding member of the Redux Contemporary Art Center (Charleston, SC) and the Boston Young Contemporaries.

Visual Artist: Michaela Pilar Brown
Born in Bangor, Maine, raised in Denver, Colorado, and now living in Columbia, South Carolina, Michaela Pilar Brown cut her teeth in the halls of a museum where her mother worked as a security guard. She studied sculpture and art history at Howard University. Her work, which explores the body through the prisms of age, gender, race, sexuality, and history, has been exhibited in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, North Carolina, and across South Carolina. She also teaches and is a facilitator for Artist U.

Visual Artist/Filmmaker: Roni Nicole
Roni Nicole Henderson is a Columbia, South Carolina based filmmaker who makes fiction, experimental, fine art, and documentary films and video installations. As a photographer, she shoots fashion and fine art and documents artists and everyday folk. Her work has been exhibited and presented across the U.S. and in the Netherlands, and her films have been featured in the Blackstar, Crown Heights, and Pan African film festivals. In 2012-2013, she was a Walthall Fellow at Wonderroot in Atlanta.

Creative Advisory Team

CEO, Columbia Film Society: Andy Smith
Andy Smith, a native of Columbia, SC, is the CEO of Columbia Film Society and the Founder of the Indie Grits Festival. He received an M.A. in Film, Television and Digital Media from UCLA and a B.A. in Film Studies from Swarthmore College. In addition to his work at Columbia Film Society, he has served on the Board of Directors for the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC), the Art House Convergence, and the SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

Nikky Finney, Poet & John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina
Acclaimed poet and Columbia Film Society board member Nikky Finney is an endowed chair at the University of South Carolina, where she holds a joint appointment in the department of English Language and Literature and the African American Studies program. Finney has authored four books of poetry including Head Off & Split which was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. She also authored Heartwood a book of short prose and edited the anthology The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South.

Community Partners

Richland Library North Main Branch • One Columbia for Arts and History • South Carolina Arts Commission • Eau Claire Development Corporation • North Columbia Business Association • Hyatt Park Keenan Terrace Neighborhood Association • SC Collaborative on Race and ReconciliationCity of Columbia