Supporting Vulnerable Immigrant Artists and Communities

Sunday, June 17, 9:00 am - 9:40 am

In today’s political moment, immigrant artists in the United States and their communities are particularly vulnerable. How can local art agencies, advocates, funders, and artists themselves band together to mitigate the dangers, struggles, and fear that immigrant artists may experience, and to promote and celebrate a broader cultural narrative in all communities?

Learning Objectives:

  1. Hear about projects designed to sustain immigrant artists and the communities from which they emerge.
  2. Consider language barriers, geopolitical concerns, ways of working, and legal considerations that may serve as barriers to immigrant artists, and how to overcome them.
  3. Explore mentorship and mutual collaboration as a way of engaging genuinely and deeply in immigrant communities, as well as challenging power dynamics that may inadvertently crop up and which must be addressed.

 Presentation Slides


Michelle Angela Ortiz
Visual Artist/ Community Arts Educator
Michelle Angela Ortiz
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Michelle Angela Ortiz is a visual artist/ skilled muralist/ community arts educator who uses her art as a vehicle to represent people and communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. Through painting, printmaking, and community arts practices, she creates a safe space for dialogue around some of the most profound issues communities and individuals may face.

Currently through her work, she strives to counteract mainstream narratives that criminalize immigrants and devalue the contributions of communities of color in the fabric of our society. The common themes of immigration, socio-economic inequalities, and erased histories are present in my work as a way to record, reclaim, and elevate these stories that connect us to our humanity.

For over eighteen years, Ortiz continues to be an active educator in using the arts as a tool for communication to bridge communities. As a highly skilled muralist, Ortiz has designed and created over 50 large-scale public works nationally and internationally. Since 2008, Ortiz has led community building and art for social change public art projects both independently in Costa Rica and Ecuador and as a United States Cultural Envoy in Fiji, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, Honduras, and Cuba.

Ortiz is a recent Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Fellow, a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist National Fellow, and a Santa Fe Art Institute Equal Justice Resident Artist. In 2016, she received the Americans for the Arts' Public Art Year in Review Award which honors outstanding public arts projects in the nation.

Zeyba Rahman
Senior Program Officer, Building Bridges Program
Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
New York, New York

Zeyba Rahman joined the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, an extension of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, in 2013 as senior program officer for the Building Bridges Program. Rahman manages the Building Bridges Program’s national grant making to support projects that advance relationships and increase understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Before joining the foundation, Rahman led internationally and nationally recognized projects as a creative director/producer to promote understanding between diverse communities. Her roles  included: director, Asia and North America, Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco; artistic director, Arts Midwest’s Caravanserai: A Place Where Cultures Meet; curator, BAM’s Mic Check Hip Hop; creative consultant, Public Programs, Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia Galleries; chief curator, Alliance Francaise’s World Nomads Morocco Festival; project director, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation/National Endowment for the Arts' Global Cultural Connections; and senior advisor, Muslim Voices Festival.

Sonia Guiñansaca
Managing Director
New York, New York

Sonia Guiñansaca is the managing director at CultureStrike. She is an internationally acclaimed poet, cultural organizer and activist from Harlem by way of Ecuador. Guiñansaca has performed at The Met, El Museo Del Barrio, Joe’s Pub at The Public, and featured on NBC, PBS, Latina Magazine, Pen American, and the Poetry Foundation to name a few. Named as 1 of 10 Up and Coming Latinx Poets You Need to Know by Remezcla, Artist in Residence at Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, and 1 of U.S.A’s Future Leaders Delegates for the British Council. Invited to London and Mexico as part of global conversation around migrant policy and narrative shifting. A national leader in the migrant undocumented artistic and political communities helping build some of the largest national undocumented organizations, and participating in groundbreaking civil disobedience actions. She founded some of the first creative artistic projects by and for undocumented writers.

Michael Royce
Executive Director
New York Foundation for the Arts
Brooklyn, New York

Michael Royce is the executive director of the New York Foundation for the Arts NYFA. In 2018 he was given the Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Award, and in 2017 Time Out New York Magazine named NYFA as one of their top 10 organizations that make living in New York a better place.

Michael has designed many programs for emerging artists, mid-career, and aging artists in the US, and last year, launched a national program for immigrant artists in Detroit, Newark, Oakland and San Antonio. Further, Michael has developed entrepreneurial training programs for partners in several countries, including Guatemala, Ireland and China.

He was the co-chair of Grantmakers in the Arts' Individual Artists Group Steering Committee for 3 years, and as a trustee, has served on the New York Council of Nonprofits, the Jersey City Museum, the Art Directors Club of New York, and the Rebecca Kelley Ballet.