Rashaad Newsome

Rapid Response Fellow 2020 - 2020

Rashaad Newsome is an interdisciplinary artist whose work blends several practices, including collage, sculpture, film, photography, music, computer programming, software engineering, community organizing, and performance. Using the diasporic traditions of improvisation and collage, he pulls from the world of advertising, the internet, and Black and queer culture to produce counter-hegemonic work that exists between social practice, abstraction, and intersectionality. His work reclaims the Black body, celebrates Black contributions to the artistic canon, and creates innovative and inclusive forms of culture and media. Newsome has exhibited and performed in galleries, museums, institutions, and festivals throughout the world, and his work is in numerous public and private collections.


What do you plan to do during Phase 1 of Rapid Response?

Patent and copyright my app, create a focus group of Black people, and research how they have been affected by white supremacy. I will also consult with several Black psychotherapists who specialize in minorities, PTSD, race, racism, and trauma. Together we will compile a large data corpus of related texts from the therapists and writings from scholars who focus on race, gender, and class in American society. These include bell hooks, Cornel West, Frantz Fanon, and James Baldwin. We will create counter-hegemonic algorithms (e.g., search algorithms that use non-Western indexing methods, or that highlight alternate histories and archives) to craft a user interaction that feels like a genuine therapeutic exchange.


How does your work relate to the theme of the open call?

The Black community has made enormous contributions to the ongoing fight for social, racial, and economic justice. Despite these efforts, real social justice among the Black community will remain incomplete until mental health disparities among this group are addressed. Mental health is an essential part of overall physical health and satisfaction. The Black community suffers from an increased rate of mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. The current COVID-19 crisis and the constant threat of police violence exacerbate this issue. Being 1.5 is an attempt to reimagine digital systems and use them to improve the lived and social experiences of African Americans.


What does the future look like to you?

Sadly it looks bleak but I am very hopeful.


What is your grounding ethos?

Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.