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Rebecca Mwase &
Ron Ragin

ABOG-David Rockefeller Fund Joint Fellow in Criminal Justice

Rebecca Mwase is a theater artist, educator, creative consultant, producer and cultural organizer working at the intersection of art and social justice. She began her work in New Orleans as an ensemble member with ArtSpot Productions. She works with them as Program Director of Individuals Relating & Overcoming Conflict (iROC), a theatre-centered character development and conflict resolution program and has since worked with numerous youth and community organizations in the city. She received the Wall Alumni Service Award for her work with iROC, and is a recipient of 2010 and 2013 Big Easy Awards. Rebecca is dedicated to creating original work and her process weaves stories, songs and movement into a tapestry that entices audiences to connect, discuss, struggle and question their relationship to each other, memory and their bodies. Her work has been supported by Alternate ROOTS, the Rockefeller MAP fund, the Network of Ensemble Theaters, and the National Performance Network’s Creation Fund. She is currently co-director of LOUD, New Orleans queer youth theater, and serves on the Board of Alternate ROOTS. Learn more about her work at: rebeccamwase.com

Ron Ragin writes, sings, composes, and makes interdisciplinary performance work that integrates sound, text, and movement. His creative interests include music of the African Diaspora, embodied ancestral memory, improvisational creative processes, and the development and maintenance of spiritual technologies. He grew up in Perry, Georgia and received his first musical training at the Saint James Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Ron has had the honor of performing with brilliant souls like Amara Tabor-Smith and Laurel Butler, studying his crafts with luminaries such as Joy Harjo and Brenda Wong Aoki, and being a soloist on Christopher Tin’s Grammy Award-winning album Calling All Dawns. He has held positions at the Hewlett Foundation and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and holds a B.A. in Public Policy, with a minor in African American Studies, from Stanford University. You can learn more about his work at: ronragin.com

Their ABOG-David Rockefeller Fund Joint Fellowship in Criminal Justice will support Freedom Chamber, a project that explores how singing helps freedom live and thrive amidst a culture of confinement, and ultimately aims to transform the systems that restrict freedom today. Mwase and Ragin will collaborate with organizations in New Orleans organizing against mass incarceration to develop community-created sound sculptures that reflect the experiences of currently and formerly incarcerated people, their families, and local communities. Their process and the resulting artistic creations will deepen partner organizations’ ongoing organizing efforts, expand civic participation within the wider community, and ultimately aim to produce positive policies to disestablish the structures of mass incarceration in New Orleans. Freedom Chamber is a project created beneath the umbrella of Vessels, a ritual performance exploring the transcendental possibilities of song during the Middle Passage and within spaces of confinement.

Artist portraits by Melisa Cardona.

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The ABOG-David Rockefeller Fund Joint Fellowship in Criminal Justice is a new targeted fellowship resulting from a year-long planning process between A Blade of Grass and the David Rockefeller Fund. Click here to learn more.

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Criminal JusticeHistoryNew OrleansPolicyRacial JusticeRebecca MwaseRon Ragin