Implemented in 2017, In-Session is a remix of a traditional lecture or panel and critical interdisciplinary salon that incorporates reading, conversation, and response together. The salons are focused on a selection from a shared reading list which is compiled by Threewalls and based on a theme. The curated reading list is an act of decolonization: citing texts and creators that are not centered in mainstream culture and expanding scholarship that shapes lived experiences of our Threewalls community. The list is also Threewalls’ contribution to uplifting the brilliance of ALAANA (African descent, Latinx, Arab, Asian and Native American) culture producers and culture bearers.
The program is an opportunity for artists & creatives to hold space, in community, and have conversations about texts that illuminate their lived experiences and artistic practices. In-Session allows space for intimacy and vulnerability that are important characteristics to building relationships across differences. It is an invitation for those who participate and bear witness to show up as they are.
After a two-year hiatus, In-Session has been reimagined as a 7-month fellowship program to include mentorship from the Threewalls team, wellness support that includes financial planning, mental health services, digital coaching, and a health stipend.
Similarly, to its predecessor, In-Session will center conversation and audience engagement with a response activation to the selected text. However, in this new iteration, we are limiting the conversation and fellows to a pair: two artists or creatives will form a collaboration to be in conversation together. The collaborative pair may collaborate with others on the response and use their materials+supplies stipend to cover their fees.
The fellowship format will be hybrid: the cohort sessions will take place virtually and the salons will take place in-person and will be livestreamed.
Unlike the former iteration, where the salons took place at Threewalls’ space, the salons moving forward will take place in the fellows’ neighborhood, in a space of their choosing. This follows the organization’s ethos of supporting artists where they live and supporting the neighborhood economy.
We acknowledge the invisible labor that goes into preparing for the salons and the fellowship award is one step in addressing invisible labor that is part of an artist’s practice. The program will support 6 fellows with each receiving $21,000 over the fellowship period. The financial breakdown is $17,500 artist fee and $3,500 for health stipend or $3,000 per month for 7 months. Additionally, each fellowship pair will receive $3,000 in materials and supplies support for their public salon.
With the financial award, each awardee will receive access to the Wellness Circle. It is comprised of consultants who offer creative and wellness services, and Threewalls offers access these services without a cost to the fellows: financial planning sessions with a professional planner and a tax workshop at the beginning of the grant year and during tax time. Additionally, we will offer one-on-one counseling sessions with together+through, and digital coaching sessions led by JinJa Birk of BirkCreative, who is also a Google Digital Coach.
Applying to the In-Session fellowship affirms that you are in agreement and alignment with the mission and values of the organization and its commitment to fostering spaces in which anti-Blackness and misogynoir have no place. Additionally, you affirm that you understand the expectations of this program. Note that those who do not adhere to the organization’s values and community agreements will be asked to leave the fellowship.
Please review Threewall’s mission and values prior to submitting your application.
The fellow for the program is one who engages with critical texts, has an interdisciplinary practice, works well in a collaborative setting, desires to engage in an exchange of ideas among the cohort and during the public salon, and open to receiving constructive feedback. Fellows for this program are those who want to build a conversation about the selected text(s) and its themes as the center of the salon and offer a performative response as another entry point for the collective conversation during the salon.
Currently, the fellowship is for ALAANA Chicago-based artists, creatives and nonprofits whose practices, values, and missions align with racial justice. Additionally, potential fellows consider research, collaboration, and community integral parts of the whole. ALAANA is a term used to identify African, Latinx, Arab, Asian and Native American individuals and communities. This program is to support those who identify as such.
For this program, we are defining eligibility as follows:
Individuals eligible for the fellowship are:
Individuals not eligible for the fellowship are:
Both partner fellows must be based in Chicago and available for the entire duration of the fellowship program from September 2023-June 2024 (please note Threewalls is closed in December)
Attend bi-weekly cohort study sessions (2 times per month) from October to January (please note Threewalls is closed in December)
Attend monthly cohort sessions in February and March to discuss public salon, gain knowledge on how to facilitate a conversation, and confirm themes, ideas, points of discussion for the public salon. Additionally, prepare for salon including format and location.
Be an active participant in the cohort study sessions, be prepared to share and to receive feedback
Attend fellowship gatherings that will be offered through the program
Lead public salon in the fellows’ designated month (April to June). Each pair of fellows will present in agreed upon month.
Timeline for Application+Fellowship Program:
May 17: Call for Proposals Opens
June 22: Deadline for proposals (extended), 11:59 pm Central
July 2023: Fellows selected
September 2023: Fellowship period begins
October 2023 -January 2024: Study Sessions, bi-weekly, Wednesday evenings (dates will be shared upon invitation)
January 8: return from holiday break
February-March: Salon Prep, monthly check-ins, Wednesday evenings
April-June 30: Salons
June 30: Fellowship ends
Should you have any further questions during the application process, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
2023-2024 Theme: Bearing Witness
The In-Session theme for this season is Bearing Witness. We invite proposals that engage witnessing as an act of and catalyst for joy, world-building, imagination, love and restoration.
Put simply, bearing witness can be defined as demonstrating that something is true or does exist. In relation to harm, especially against Black communities, it is often discussed as a term to describe active watching and listening to the revisitation of trauma as a form of healing and protection. While this holds true for many, we invite a careful consideration of its use, especially when embodied by those most impacted by systemic oppression and harm. Its invocation can also serve as a tool of self-determination, equipping us with the power to forge our own path, future and liberation by any means necessary. More importantly, it can demonstrate these possibilities while leading with evidence of a joyful existence.
We contemplate what it would mean to bear witness to that which makes our soul sing. How do we cultivate the courage to witness radical possibilities for others and ourselves? Through communal witnessing, how might we dream up practices and worlds that have yet to come into being? By bearing witness to that which is most authentic and life-giving to our humanity, we allow ourselves to remember what we always recognized to be true inside of us. We hold fast in knowing that thriving in the layeredness of everyday existence is, in itself, an act of resistance.
Successful applications will clearly detail a commitment to exploring a process and approach to defining expanded definitions of “bearing witness” as a pair and in community with others.
 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/meaningful-you/201312/the-power-and-strength-bearing-witness#:~:text=Bearing%20witness%20is%20a%20term,to%20others%20of%20traumatic%20experiences.; Richardson, A. (2020). Bearing witness while black: African Americans, smartphones, and the new protest #journalism. Oxford University Press.
Resources are hyperlinked.
2023-2024 Reading List
Literature & Poetry
In A Love Letter, creators illuminate, question, and respond to current politics, progressive struggles, transformations, acts of resistance, and solidarity, while also offering readers a space for renewal and healing.
hooks, bell. Belonging: A Culture of Place with emphasis on: “Inspired Eccentricity” and “A Community of Care”
Belonging offers a tales of a world where all people–wherever they may call home–can live fully and well, where everyone can belong.
Piepzna-Samarasinha, Leah Lakshmi. Care Work : Dreaming Disability Justice, with emphasis on “Care Webs: Experiments in Creating Collective Access”
Care Work is a mapping of access as radical love, a celebration of the work that sick and disabled queer/people of color are doing to find each other and to build power and community.
Feelin expands the notions of Black women’s pleasure politics in Black feminist studies that include the erotic, the sexual, the painful, the joyful, the shameful, and the sensations and emotions that yet have no name
Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of unforgettable voices that move back and forth in time, Memphis is a tale of inheritance, celebrating the full complexity of what we pass down, in a family and as a country: brutality and justice, faith and forgiveness, sacrifice and love.
Rest Is Resistance casts an illuminating light on our troubled relationship with rest and how to imagine and dream our way to a future where rest is exalted.
The first great collection of black America’s folk world, Mules and Men is a 1935 auto-ethnographic collection of African-American folklore collected and written by anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston.
hooks, bell. Art on My Mind with emphasis on “In Our Glory: Photography and Black Life” and “Beauty Laid Bare: Aesthetics in the Ordinary”
Art on my Mind critically examines visual politics within the ever-present question of how art can be an empowering and revolutionary force within the black community.
Dodds, Sherril (Ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Competition with emphasis on “You Can’t Outdo Black People: Soul Train, Queer Witnessing, and Pleasurable Competition” by Melissa Blanco Borelli
Focusing on a viral Soul Train video, this chapter asks: how does black collective pleasure, mediated through a queer aesthetic and affective lens, actually out-do the emotionally devastating effects of capitalism?
Griffin, Farrah Jasmine. Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature with emphasis on “The Transformative Potential of Love” and “Something Like Self Determination”
Read Until You Understand centers love of the majestic power of words and love of the magnificence of Black life. Griffin uses a spectrum of Black art to explore themes as justice, rage, self-determination, beauty, joy, and mercy.
Bambara, Toni Cade. The Salt Eaters.
The Salt Eaters is a 1980 novel, the first such work by Toni Cade Bambara. The novel is written in an experimental style and is explicitly political in tone, with several of the characters being veterans of the civil rights, feminist, and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
Dawn Revisited – Rita Dove
A meditation on past and present—on history and renewal.
Homage to Black Madonnas – Margaret Burroughs
A love letter to and reflection on the fullness of Black womanhood that spans across time and space.
Articles + Blog Posts
“I Do It for the ’Gram and Do It for Myself”: Bearing Witness, Self-Archiving, and Avoiding Capture under Racial Capitalism by Michael L. Thomas in Amerikastudien/American Studies Volume 67, Issue 2 (2022)
This article examines how, through the aesthetics of bearing witness, communities can connect individual experiences to community issues as a platform for collective action.
Frames for Life, Liberation and Belonging, by Evan Bissell
This collection is a reflection of frames that live in the stories, actions, and lives of people who value life, liberation, and belonging.
Witnessing Another, Witnessing Oneself by Kyra Hess
Beginning with the history of witnessing and its unique features within the field of dance/movement therapy, the author provides the essential qualities to consider in order to witness another individual.
Beholding and Curating With Care by La Tanya S. Autry
Curator La Tanya S. Autry shares a set of crucial questions she considers when curating images of anti-Black violence.
Culture critic and historian Elvis Mitchell traces the evolution — and revolution — of Black cinema from its origins to the impactful films of the 1970s.
Germaine Acogny und Malou Airaudo/Pina Bauch common ground[s]
Germaine Acogny and Malou Airaudo are both over 70 years old. They have had many experiences in their lives. In dance. As mothers. As grandmothers. As granddaughters. In their duet, they explore their experiences and dance education.
Aszure Barton’s Busk
In BUSK, internationally renowned choreographer Aszure Barton invites us to enjoy the fragility, tenderness, and resilience that exist within the human experience.
Alvin Ailey’s Witness
Amidst a visually arresting stage decor of flickering candles, a female soloist embarks on a spiritual journey that echoes the repeated lyric “my soul is a witness for my Lord.”
Sonya Tayeh’s OH COURAGE!
OH COURAGE! is a piece about self-reflection, truth and resilience. It is a soul march that navigates what occurs when there is a guttural need for change.
Ragnonons – (Journeys I & II) – Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson (Hyperallergic article)
Folk artist, storyteller and visual historian, Robinson used her artwork to celebrate and memorialize the neighborhood of her childhood and everyday life across the Black diaspora.
“Through my work I aim to convey the idea that while all human beings may have to function within this theater of the absurd, we don’t have to be of it and the ability to imagine and an open mind is the escape route.” – Renee Stout
“ Carving Out Time touches on the ideas of motherhood, family, legacy, and the connection one has to a space. The monumental scale of this work situates itself within the tradition of history painting and presents the everyday woman as triumphant.” – Latoya M. Hobbs
“Everyone [Hendricks] painted was someone he knew. The women in his paintings always look powerful, as a result of how their clothes reveal or conceal. It is not a fantasy of sensuality or strength, it is a reality. One informed by the poise and grace of his subjects.” – Duro Olowu
Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956 (Artnet)
“In his ‘Segregation in the South’ series, Parks captures life in Alabama; his work was markedly different from other images of the civil rights era, which often documented violent clashes. Parks, for his part, focused on the everyday grace and dignity of African American families in the 1950s.” – Caroline Goldstein
This portfolio was created to raise funds for the legal defense of a group of anti-Vietnam war activists, charged – in what is known as the 1969 Chicago Conspiracy Trial – with conspiracy to cross state lines with intent to incite a riot.
A manifesto that names and claims the possibilities for a new tomorrow.
A depiction of Black joy and boundless self-expression.
A reflection on the everlasting, timeless power of love.
An award-winning score that provides an emotionally rich backdrop to the film adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk (originally written by James Baldwin).
Please provide the requested information and responses in your application. The application can be submitted as a PDF, video or audio file, and should be sent to email@example.com.
Your application materials can be submitted as written responses, video files, or audio files. Please keep written responses to under 250 words per question and video responses under 3 minutes per question.
*Not having a website does not exclude you from being considered. If you do not have a website, include documentation of your artistic or creative practice in the form of photos or video (no longer than 5 minutes).
Date Of Birth:
Affirmation of ALAANA Identity – As this fellowship is for individuals who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color, please self-identify your racial background.
Accessibility: Affirming ALAANA communities and their intersections, Threewalls supports the inclusion of Deaf and Disabled people in all aspects of this fellowship. Would you be interested in knowing more about how to engage these communities within the fellowship program? Yes_ No_
If available, please include a short biography, resume OR Curriculum Vitae.
1. Identify your conversation partner: the conversation portion must be two individuals. Please tell us why you are partnering together for the fellowship. Please include how you intend to be accountable to each other throughout the program.
*Only two partners per proposal are eligible for the fellowship
2. You must select a text(s) from Threewalls’ curated reading list to ground the salon conversation. Please reference the above reading list. You may offer a text of your choosing that is not on our reading list to be in dialogue with a text on the Threewalls list. Should you offer a text of your choosing, it must be in dialogue with one from the Threewalls reading list.
Clearly articulate why you selected the text(s). Some questions to consider: How do they illuminate the In-Session theme for you? How do these texts these texts respond to your lived experience(s)? What about the text(s) inspire you and your practice? If you selected more than one text, how do they connect to each other?
*The artist may bring a text of their choosing to engage with the Threewalls list
*Selecting a text off list is not required
3. Please share your initial thoughts for building a critical dialogue that engages the audience to move from a “lecture” and “performance” to creating space for engagement. Some questions to consider: How do you intend to build an experiential conversation that is not a lecture and not solely a performance? What do you want the audience to leave with after the salon? What is the kernel of knowledge about the text, your practice or the experience that is important to the work?
4. The In-Session salons will take place in the fellows’ neighborhoods. Please identify a neighborhood-based community space in which to host the salon, preferably in one of the partners’ neighborhood/community areas. Please share why you would like to host the salon in this space. We ask that you keep in mind Threewalls’ values in identifying your community space.
5. List any collaborators for the public salon, who may participate in the response activation.
*Collaborators are not participants in the fellowship and not considered fellows.
Disponible en Español, aqui.
Threewalls is always finding new ways to share our artist’s unique voices through exhibits, talks, and gatherings. We would like you to be the first to know about these opportunities.