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Call For Artists: Pain & Possibility 2021

Pain and Possibility 2021: Radical Futures for Collective Learning

Qualifications due August 6

Mestizo Institute of Culture and Arts (MICA), in partnership with Sugar Space Foundation and local community leaders, is pleased to announce the second edition of Pain & Possibility, a platform for artists to engage with the present while reimagining tomorrow through art. We are calling interested artists or artist-led teams, working in any medium, to participate in this year’s edition of Pain and Possibility by responding to its 2021 theme: Radical Futures for Collective Learning. Your work will support our communities in reimagining schooling and education post-COVID. 

To see last year’s projects visit

Project Background 

The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and white supremacy have forced educators to begin reconsidering how they do business. Schools can no longer ignore our country’s deep social and racial inequities — injustices that schools themselves help reproduce. Educators have had to be creative, adapt to new ways of teaching and learning, and adjust to new ways of working with families to break down barriers and access education. After COVID, business as usual is not an option: we cannot go back to accepting a school system that shuttles youth into the prison system and harms BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and other communities facing marginalization. This is a moment to reimagine what learning environments can be. How would we redesign education from the ground up, so we can move from harm to healing, assimilation to cultural sustenance, control to empowerment? 

Families, students, teachers, and community members are organizing to make changes in post-COVID education. Artists have an important role to play in this movement. Artists can help our communities break from old ways of thinking spark our radical imaginations. The education we need exists in the future, and artists can help us envision that future today.

Project Description 

We are looking for artists or artist-led teams to take on this challenge by creating an outdoor original artwork in any medium (visual, performing, literary, conceptual, participatory, etc.) that engages our communities in exploring radically reimagined educational experiences. We seek projects that center the lives and perspectives of communities facing oppression and marginalization in schools and disrupt status-quo thinking about education.

  • Timeline: Art projects will be presented and/or carried out between September 24 and October 3, with multiple presentations in multiple locations encouraged if appropriate to the project.
  • Locations: Applicants will be responsible for selecting and accessing appropriate spaces for their works, with opportunities to use Sugar Space Arts Warehouse as a location, 132 S 800 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84104.
  • Budget: Selected artists or artist-led teams will receive $1,000, which is inclusive of artist fees, materials, and travel.
  • Coordination: Artists and teams are expected to take care of all logistics of their work/performance. MICA will provide a point person who can advise and support this process.
  • Publicity: MICA will publicize all shows as part of the Pain & Possibility series. Artists will also be expected to share materials with their networks.


Application Requirements

Interested artists and teams should submit the following:

Statement of Interest (400-700 words) describing why you would be a good fit for this project and your initial thoughts on the theme or how you might approach it through your work. You do NOT need to have a fully fleshed out plan.

  • Resume or short biography demonstrating your artistic background(s) and experience with socially/community engaged art
  • Samples of past work (photos, videos, audio, etc.)
  • Anything else you think will help us understand you and your approach

Your submissions will be considered by a committee made up of board members of MICA and Sugar Space and additional community members. Criteria for selection include:

  • Experience creating high quality public art
  • Commitment to equity and justice in or through the arts
  • Evidence of work that pushes boundaries and challenges the imagination
  • Representation of the diversity of our communities (e.g., BIPOC artists, LGBTQIA+ artists, disabled artists, artists of immigrant and refugee background)


Submit all questions and materials to Include the best contact information with which to reach out, in case we need to follow up with any questions.

Submissions due: August 6

Artists Informed of Selection: August 13