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Artists in Palm Beach County aim to make local impact as Cultural Council’s 'Innovation Fellows'

Kianga Jinaki quilt .jpeg
Kianga Jinaki
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This is an African quilt by Kianga Jinaki, a mixed-media fiber artist based in Riviera Beach.

The Cultural Council for Palm Beach County selected six artists for its 2022 Artist Innovation Fellowship program. The council established a fund to help local creative professionals with research and other expenses.

Artists say the fund is meeting their needs during the pandemic. Six fellows received a $7,500 innovation grant to fund their creative process.

“You need funding to be able to produce a quality project,” said Shanique Scott, former mayor of the city of South Bay and a dance choreographer based in Belle Glade. “[It] also helps with the time that’s invested — the music, the production, the uniforms.”

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Scott teaches modern, contemporary, lyrical, and hip hop dance. She says she’s using the funds to expand programs at her Ascension 33 Dance Studio.

In the Glades area, Scott says there aren't many art spaces where kids are able to express themselves through dance, music, and art. The studio gives access to children and teens in underserved neighborhoods.

“It’s been definitely challenging during the pandemic, but I do see the arts coming back,” said Scott. “Dance, music, arts, it’s the universal language. People resonate and come together.”

Kianga Jinaki is a mixed-media fiber artist based in Riviera Beach. She’s known for her African and African-American-inspired quilts and dolls.

“I incorporate textile and hand-made paper, paintings, beads,” said Jinaki. “That’s me in a nutshell. Quilts can really speak and have a powerful message.”

Jinaki has traveled to countries within the continent to seek textile inspiration. She will use some of the funds to expand her work and seek mentorship.

“The main thing that I would like to do is upgrade my artwork, of course," said Jinaki. “It would enable me to mentor with two internationally known fiber artists — Gwendolyn Aqui-Brooks and Lauren Austin. Both are artists whose work I’ve followed for a while.”

“Sometime, during the year, I’m going to go learn more dyeing and printing on cloth and more ways to use collage in my work," she said.

sculpture Henriett Michel.png
Henriett Michel
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A sculpture by Henriett Michel (modernist art)

Four more artists in other disciplines were also selected as fellows:

  • Elizabeth Dimon, a veteran actor based in West Palm Beach. The four-time Carbonell Award winner has premiered in countless plays in Palm Beach County.
  • Henriett Michel is a painter and sculptor based in Palm Beach Gardens. Originally from Budapest, Hungary, Michel is known for her abstract paintings and figurative clay sculptures.
  • Yvette Norwood-Tiger is an international jazz vocalist and founder/director of the Palm Beach International Jazz Festival. The Detroit, Michigan native is based in Wellington.
  • Carin Wagner, whose work has been exhibited in museums throughout the state, is a painter based in Palm Beach Gardens. She incorporates a pro-environmental protection message in oil on canvas.

The innovation fellows will exhibit their work during spring 2023 at the Cultural Council’s headquarters in downtown Lake Worth Beach.

Wilkine Brutus is a reporter and producer for WLRN and a guest faculty member at the Poynter Institute. The South Florida native produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs.