I am an artist with a mission. I believe my job is to be a conduit to listen and tell the stories of people that need to be heard and represented; the ones whose lives and experiences have been marginalized. I am particularly interested in the African American experience in the Unites States. Through my art, I have dealt with issues around African American teen fathers, slavery, female identity and power, LGBTQ families, deaf children, mental illness and trauma, and the ancestors. My job is to listen, to record, to make available the voices and stories of what is missing.
About the Project: ...While Black
. . .While Black is a site base installation using photographs, quilts and words that uses the bird as a metaphor to confirm, to remember and to honor stories and truths of the African diaspora with focus on the African American experience. This project is designed in stages to build the imagery of representation, the bird as metaphor, to embody past, present and future to portray Black bodies. Student and community participation resulted in the construction of a community quilt, and personal stories have been incorporated into dialogues. The ultimate goal of this project is to encourage empathy, openness and build a safe place for students and community to talk about racism and trauma.
CRIS ELI BLAK is an emerging proud Black playwright whose work has been performed and produced around the world, from Off-Broadway; across the country regionally; on university stages; as well as in London, Australia, Ireland, and Canada.
He is the winner of the first Black Broadway Men Playwriting Initiative and currently the Artist-in-Residence at The State University of New York - Oswego, the recipient of the Emerging Playwrights Fellowship with The Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre Company, and a 2023 FORGE Fellow with FORGE-NYC.
He has been a resident playwright with Fosters Theatrical Artists Residency, Paterson Performing Arts Development Council, Quick Silver Theatre Company, Yonder Window Theatre Company, and La Lengua Teatro en Español/AlterTheater Ensemble, and was an inaugural-year fellow with the Black Theatre Coalition.
He has developed work with Rattlestick Theatre, Company One, The Road Theatre, and American Stage; and is currently developing work with The Negro Ensemble Company, Pipeline Theatre Company, Et Alia Theater, the Napa Valley Shakespeare Festival, and The Pikeville City Commission. His work has been published by Smith & Kraus, Inc., YOUTHPlays, Applause Books, New World Theatre, Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, and in the Black Theatre Review.
About the Project: A Last Day at Dave's
When the threat of the end of the world unexpectedly hits, a collection of complex individuals, all with a story to tell and a past to heal from, come together inside of a coffee shop-bookstore hybrid, expressing their souls and waiting to see if it will really be their last day.
This project is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrants Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by CNY Arts.