The Black Earth Institute is a community of creative, committed artists and a grant resource. Established in 2005, BEI is dedicated to supporting art in re-forging the links between spirit, earth and society, for art and its makers create the space for changing minds and the world. With this in mind, BEI endeavors to bring together a group of artists who are activists, whether in their own fields or in general causes, to foment change.
BEI seeks fellows from different genres, such as literary, dramatic and media artists; performance artists making a political statement; or journalists addressing the urgent social and environmental issues facing the planet. We seek fellows from different points in their life journeys, be they published or tenured, or new break-through artists, who have gained or are gaining recognition for leadership. BEI will continue its legacy of including fellows representing diverse communities: academic, activist, gender-identified, racial, ethnic and international.
Chosen fellows are invited to join in a national–even global–community, guided by previous fellows and scholars. They share artistic creations and support each other in working towards common objectives.
BEI’s programs for fellows that facilitate reaching its goals include:
First, we join together for an annual intensive retreat at Brigit Rest near Black Earth, Wisconsin. For three days fellows and scholars share ideas, work, space, food and the land. We wrestle with topics presented by scholar advisers, bring forward experiences in the work of fellows, and make plans for the coming year. This year’s retreat will be October 4-7; lodging is provided and travel is supported by a grant.
Second, BEI supports projects for each new fellow, with an annual stipend of $1000.00 each. Support can either be a single major work such as a book, media, drama or performance, public art or other production over the three years, or, alternatively, for smaller annual projects. Projects will combine the artist’s creative direction with the goals and values of BEI.
Third, each fellow has the opportunity and responsibility to set a theme and edit an issue of About Place Journal during their three-year tenure. A separate $1000.00 stipend is provided for this activity. The editor chooses two assistant editors, who are also supported.
Activities of BEI fellows are highlighted and promoted in various media, including our website, Facebook, Twitter, and internal communications. There is an active internal life, which includes supporting each other in organizing readings, panels and communications during the year. Submissions are sought from fellows for About Place Journal. Black Earth Institute Fellows will identify themselves as such on their websites and bios, while promoting BEI and its activities in their communities. Fellows are expected to sponsor at least one program a year in the name of BEI and be an active member in the internal life of the organization. For example, previous fellows have sponsored or participated in BEI panels at Split This Rock and AWP and they have often hosted each other for new book readings, presentations or performances.