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Announcing the 2023 Kindling Fund Grantees

SPACE is honored to award 13 project grants in this year’s cycle of the Kindling Fund totaling $55,000 in grantmaking. The Kindling Fund supports inventive, artist-organized initiatives that engage the public and the visual arts in new and meaningful ways. The funded projects below value risk, experimentation, unconventional engagement, critical dialogue and sustaining artistic opportunity for creative peers. Each of these projects is making opportunities for more than one artist and is the creative labor of a group of artists beyond the individual grantee listed.

$10,000 was previously awarded by the jury in the American Rescue Plan Maine Project Grants jury process for proposals in line with the values and eligibility of the Kindling Fund this winter, supplementing subgranting funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Grantees were juried from a pool of 55 submissions to the Kindling Fund. This was after 231 submissions to the American Rescue Plan Maine Project grants this past year, where 69 grants were made to artist projects throughout the state. 

The 2023 Kindling Fund Grantees are: A CLEARINGAlana Dao and meg willing (Portland/Farmington), Aretha Aoki and Ryan MacDonald (Topsham), Hi Tiger (Portland), Holden Willard & 82Parris (Portland), James Allister Sprang (Portland/Biddeford), Jenny Ibsen (Portland), Joseph Goodwin & the PortL& art collective (Portland), Lilah Akins (Bangor with statewide collaborators), Lisa Alonzo (Brunswick), Nicole Villacrés-Reyes (Portland, R&D Grant), Olivia Spring & SICK magazine (Belgrade), Portland Free Pantry (Portland), Scott McPheeters (Biddeford, R&D Grant).

This year’s jury was composed of: 

Benjamin Spalding – American Rescue Plan Maine Project Grantee, artist, Chair of Foundation at Maine College of Art & Design, DJ and arts organizer

Camila Bohan Insaurralde – artist and coordinator for the Collective Futures Fund administered by Tufts University for projects in greater Boston

Timothy Belknap – artist, curator, and Co-Director of the Icebox Project space in Philadelphia. 

Two grants were made supplementing partial funding made under the American Rescue Plan Maine Project Grant jury cycle (applicants could be awarded a maximum grant amount of $5000), two were granted $2500 Research and Development Grants, and nine are new project grantees. 


A CLEARING presents A POSSIBLE PRACTICE: Surrender My Softness

Grantee: Alana Dao
Collaborator: meg willing

A CLEARING: A Maine Arts Community is a collaborative practice co-facilitated by Alana Dao and meg willing. It is an intentional space to make art outside the crashing waves of dominant culture. Through their annual project—A POSSIBLE PRACTICE—artists of all disciplines are invited to complete work in conversation with a single poem throughout the year. This year, queer Palestinian-American poet Noor Hindi’s “Ode to Friendship” is the guide. Mail art exchanged between the facilitators, six primary collaborators, and community members is the medium. The project culminates with a print publication—a love letter to this cycle of radical shared practice.


Grantees: Aretha Aoki & Ryan MacDonald

IzumonookunI is a dance/punk/goth-glam/synthwave show weaving together the lost (her)story of kabuki and its real and imagined influences and offshoots. This revisionist, multidisciplinary work aims to reimagine the founder of the Japanese dance-drama form, a form which currently contains little trace of its cis-female centric origins. Project support will assist with the ongoing elaboration of the project in working with musicians (taiko), building on the work as a whole, and reaching outside of the theater/dance setting to stage it. 

Introducing Chloe Taylor

Grantee: Hi Tiger 

Introducing Chloe Taylor is a fashion show and corresponding art exhibition featuring clothing and apparel by Lovers Fight Tonight, Liquid Sky Design and others. The project is being organized by Hi Tiger, a multi-media artist based in Maine. These funds supplement partial funding of the project budget from an American Rescue Plan Maine Project Grant. 


Grantee: Holden Willard
Collaborators: Kincaid Pearson, Antoinette Conant, Hannah Day, Kat Miller

82Parris is an artist-run gallery and event space located in West Bayside, in the old New Systems Laundry building. 82Parris will promote and exhibit contemporary art from diverse perspectives and provide a platform for the free exchange of creative ideas. The group is dedicated to fostering an open and inclusive space for all forms of expression and strive to establish a connection between art and community. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach, 82Parris will utilize the power of art and its potential to bridge cultures and unite communities. They aim to create a shared experience around the visual arts by cultivating appreciation and understanding within the field of contemporary art.

Rest Within The Wake 

Grantee: James Allister Sprang

Rest Within The Wake is a 45-minute sensory poem for the spirit, generated by artist James Allister Sprang, featuring advanced spatial audio called 4DSound. The culmination of an original orchestral score alongside large-scale indigo weavings, this work unpacks how the blues – a celebration of the catastrophic- are woven into the joy of our everyday lives. The work invites audiences to listen deeply, which is “a radical action that allows us to slow down, turn inward, and heal,” Sprang says. “Deep listening consciously brings awareness to the present moment while welcoming our bodies, our ancestors, our traumas, our pain, our longings, visions, and dreams.” 

Fish Picnic

Grantee: Jenny Ibsen

Fish Picnic is a fish-forward banquet inspired by eating side-by-side with strangers and loved ones, sharing stories across the table as loaves of bread get passed back and forth, and the cold, salty ocean that we’re so lucky to have access to in Maine. It is a creative, free, public meal series that will happen once every few months with all seasonal foods prepared by Jenny Ibsen. Though it’s a food-centric gathering, this non-traditional feast takes form as a vessel to share community at the table with one another. These funds supplement partial funding of the project budget from an American Rescue Plan Maine Project Grant. 


Grantee: Joseph Goodwin & the PortL& art collective
Collaborators: Faye Warner, Darrel Colinsworth Grosvalet, Sara Handspicker, Matt Stevenson

PortL-1 is an interactive and immersive experience intended to engage with the public to transport the audience to imaginary worlds through participatory engagement. Utilizing new media technologies in conjunction with sculpture and performance. They aspire to build a doorway to another reality. 

SPINNING WAMPUM: Reclaim-memorating the Treaty of Casco Bay as Wabanaki Practice

Grantee: Lilah Akins
Collaborators: Darren Ranco, Jennie Hahn, Ian Saxine

SPINNING WAMPUM: Reclaim-memorating the Treaty of Casco Bay as Wabanaki Practice is a Wabanaki-led public art project that will bring a cross-cultural group of artists and scholars together in Caskoak (Casco Bay). This group will gather monthly to collaboratively design a series of artistic interventions commemorating the Casco Bay Treaty processes of 1726-1727. The project will culminate in a participatory storytelling walk incorporating interdisciplinary creative processes with stories of the historic treaty and contemporary Wabanaki diplomacy. This project is part of a larger initiative to support Wabanaki artists in creating a series of new public artworks to reclaim-memorate the Casco Bay Treaty gatherings in 2026-2027.

Analog Alley Mural Project

Grantee: Lisa Alonzo

Analog Alley is a small alley in Brunswick, Maine. The mission of the Analog Alley Mural Project is to support and produce socially engaged and aesthetically innovative public art. Each August will feature new murals by local and visiting artists with existing murals being painted over and replaced every other year. In its third year, AAMP will continue to foster community and ignite a public space with murals supporting social, economic and environmental justice messaging and storytelling.

Crafting Queer ME

Grantee: Nicole Villacrés-Reyes
Collaborators: TBA

Building off of work with Queer Craft ME, Nicole Villacrés-Reyes wants to offer everyone the ability to learn, hone and sell their crafts. Research and Development funds will help them conceptualize regular maker workshops and weekly craft nights encourage attendees to learn new skills and dedicate time each week to indulge their creativity. The workshops focus on mediums and types of art, which have a low material/startup cost, allowing anyone who finds their passion in said craft to easily continue.

SICK magazine

Grantee: Olivia Spring
Collaborators: Kaiya Waerea and contributing artists/writers 

SICK is an independent, thoughtful magazine by chronically ill & disabled people, publishing essays, features, poetry, artwork, interviews, and more. Founded in Norwich, UK in 2019, SICK is currently based out of Maine & London. Their aim is to increase representation of sick & disabled people in publishing and the arts and to challenge the harmful stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding disability. “We work in and with our slowness, pausing and resting when we need to. We believe, listen to, and support each other. We reject productivity as means of value and celebrate our sick & disabled bodies.”

Portland Free Pantry Mural

Grantee: Mei DW & Portland Free Pantry
Collaborators: Kristin Lash and Emma Weed

This project will incorporate artwork from our underrepresented community members into the community-led build of Portland’s first Mobile Free Pantry. In using the pantry walls as canvases, the organizers specifically aim to provide a platform to at least three different individuals who may identify as low-income, precariously housed or houseless, differently-abled, Black, Indigenous, persons of color, or female or non-binary artists. The project will involve an open call for designs, a community vote, and volunteer painting days. By grounding our project in community-led action and engagement, the organizers hope to build an infrastructure of mutual aid culture within the City of Portland.


Grantee: Scott McPheeters
Collaborators: Evan Hart Marsh, Justin-Rose Desper

BIDDO BOIIDS is a social performance practice and community building exercise targeting LGBTQ+ individuals in Southern Maine. Throughout a series of workshops, lead collaborators Scott McPheeters, Evan Hart Marsh, Justin-Rose Desper will work with LQBTQ+ youth in Biddeford to create a city-wide exhibition and performance of queer “nests” and queer “nesting practices/performances”. The youth will construct “nests” unique to their identities and sensations of belonging, and develop movement, song, and text to accompany the work. Audiences will be invited to follow a nesting trail and witness the performances. The lead collaborators are seeking to also build a nest and develop an evening-length performance to be showcased over two weekends in winter 2024. BIDDO BOIIDS is the recipient of a Research & Development Grant. 

SPACE Reader

🕯️ This weekend only! The dance show of the summer is Scapegoat Garden’s Liturgy|Order|Bridge. The Hartford-based company calls upon Black church traditions and ideas of faith, nature, fashion, and experimentation in their limited performance run June 20-22. Tickets available now, presented by SPACE at Mechanics’ Hall. 🕯️