Dream Warriors Foundation Summer Spark Grant Winners Update

This past summer, Dream Warriors Foundation Spark Grant recipients Jasmine Williams and Dani Brockington shared more about taking their dreams and what pushed them to apply for the Spark Grant. And now, nearly six months later, we’re checking in with these two creatives to learn more about their progress after the grant, first Dani with her multimedia project and then Jasmine as she dives deeper into the art world and finds a key element that transformed her project.

Dani Brockington: Writer and Digital Content Producer

videos and gifs courtesy of Dani Brockington

You mentioned getting "your life back together" when you received the DWF Spark Grant? What kind of updates can you share about your RePlaced series and your story?

So, I ended up finally moving into my new place at The Guild in September, and am now in the pre-production phases of my first couple episodes. I had to work through some emotional issues that I didn't realize I had around a fear of nesting again, around establishing a new "home" for myself, and generally around recognizing this whole displacement process as one of grieving and moving forward through it. 

I officially launched my website and trailer on my birthday, October 16. The project has broadened from being a straight up web series to a multimedia project, with a bit of writing and photography thrown in as well. 

What positive impact have you received in both your personal and business lives after receiving the grant? 

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I've been a creative and a contractor for the past 10 years, and generally applying to grants is a job within itself. Figuring out the "right" words to appeal to an unknown audience is daunting, and for me it actually strips a layer of confidence from my pitch. Community-centered grants like this one, where the parameters are more open, you're pitching to peers who "get it" — it's freeing in a way. I've been able to conceive greater possibilities for the project than I may have before. Also, simply being awarded the grant has given me so much confidence that it's a worthwhile idea to begin with. 

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Since/because of the grant I've made some great leaps professionally as well, from filming and cutting a trailer for a Kickstarter campaign that went to successfully fund a friend's self-produced play in Brooklyn to having my costume design work featured in a national ad campaign (which was also a Dreamie connection!). The RePlace project itself has connected me with so many amazing people already and it really feels like I'm getting myself back on solid ground a bit quicker. 

How has having funding for your work helped you creatively and allowed you to move forward with your work? 

It's really opened up my possibilities a lot and allowed me to start, which then brings all the other knowledge you need to keep moving. I've gotten interest in partnerships and sponsorships, so that's my next phase of support-seeking for some of the ongoing expenses. So now, I'm learning how to package pitch letters and sponsorship asks from organizations that I think fit really well with my goals for the project. 

Again I can't underestimate how much the support has helped my confidence in pursuing those type things, which I have always had trouble with approaching. 

What's next in your journey to displaying and promoting your body of work?

Well, the website is live and bubbling. I’m shooting two episodes soon as well as the pilot episode of a DIY bartending series with a client who'll be in a future RePlace episode. It's really coming together! I've decided for now to not have separate social media accounts for the project because that may prove to be way too much for me to manage, but the site is the hub and we'll grow from there! 

Jasmine Williams: Artist, Sculptor, Activist

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Photos and artwork courtesy of Jasmine Williams

How have you and your body of work, Disruptive Black Girl, grown or evolved since you received the grant this past summer? 

I’ve had the freedom to dive deep into every aspect of the art world and figure out what type of career I’d like to cultivate. Before graduating last year, I had no clue how many options I had as an artist, so the clarity has been refreshing.

As as far as Disruptive Black Girl, it has grown and morphed in some amazing ways. I’ve changed the title to The Architect. While doing research, I asked myself what was the source of my desire to disrupt the status quo. I found it hard to produce work without answering that question. I sat down with my great-grandmother Willie Mae and she told me the story of her grandfather, William Page. He was an enslaved Black American. He’d run away because of the constant abuse. Once he was freed, instead of taking the Wilkerson last name, he chose the name Page because he wanted all of his children to learn to read. This story helped me understand why I have always had the fire in my belly to dismantle systems build to destroy me and anyone else that doesn’t fit into the white, cisgendered, and heteronormative archetype. 

Your family history helped you find this new focus for the project — what constitutes the project now?

This bit of family history also had me thinking about generational blessings. So often, we focus on generational trauma and curses. I wanted to shift my thinking and focus on the way my life will impact my family for generations to come.

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The Architect is a visual archive of the “conversation” between my ancestor, William Page, and I. His actions were disruptive and revolutionary in a way that many would overlook. A simple name change was a declaration of personhood that Black Americans of the time were afraid of. 

His assertion of self was bold and has been a theme of my family’s lineage. I can assert myself, personally and politically, in a way he could not. William Page has given me the blueprint. Additionally, women like Ida B. Wells and Elizabeth Catlett have been models for what it looks like when I build a life that serves every part of my identity.

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How do you feel resources like these grants can help move forward the dreams of women, non-binary, and femme-identifying individuals?

I have been given the security to be able to create freely without worrying about how I will make it happen financially. Resources like the Spark Grant give our community the confidence to make a dream happen. There are so many people that just need a boost in order to get started.

How has having funding for your work helped you creatively and allowed you to move forward with your work?

It has freed up space in my brain to let my ideas flow. There was room for “Disruptive Black Girl” to blossom into “The Architect”. I am hoping to find gallery space to display the full body of work in Atlanta in Spring or Summer of 2019.

What's next in your journey to displaying and promoting your body of work?

I’m gearing up for the Southern Graphics Council International conference, March 3-9, in North Texas. A portion of the show will debut at University of Texas Arlington's Gallery West Space. I will start promoting the show in January 2019.