About Vital Signs
In an effort to support student voice and action related to the Black Lives Matter movement, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, the UMD Office of Diversity and Inclusion and UMD Office of Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy in partnership with Black Terps Matter announced Vital Signs: Creative Arts for Black Lives Mini-Grants in Summer 2020.
Both Black-identifying and non-Black-identifying creators may apply. For those applicants that are Black-identifying, we invite you to use this opportunity to creatively process any joy, pain or vitality that you want to express. For those applicants that do not identify as Black, we ask that you approach your project and examine your topic from your own perspective with introspection and a critical eye.
We encourage students of all forms and levels of artistic experience to apply. Applicants do not need to be affiliated with a student organization.
These mini-grants are awarded each semester to artists in the UMD community who are creating projects that affirm Black life and vitality and interrogate white supremacy and anti-Blackness. Mini-grant funds are intended to support costs associated with the development of these projects.
Past Recipients & Projects
Ceylon Mitchell (Music Performance ‘22) is creating a musical performance and recording an album featuring works by Brazilian, Cuban, and Black American composers.
Vivian Ebisike (Criminology and Criminal Justice ‘22) is creating a digital magazine titled “Into the Wilderness” that discusses the struggles of a first-generation Nigerian-American. It will dissect the intersectionality of a triple minority through experiences, struggles, and cultural differences, which provides a resource to other minorities with similar lifestyles.
Deja Collins (Projection and Media Design ‘23) is creating an experimental projection design featuring a live abstract deconstruction of the artist's experience with sleep paralysis. Using a melange of archival video/audio, visual effects, and texture to explore the nightmarish parallelism to the artist's relationship to their enigmatic mom.
The following students were awarded funding in Spring 2021. To hear more about the projects from the artists themselves, watch archived video of the Spring 2021 virtual showcase.
Anthony Aguilar (Art History & Archaeology ‘21) created a digital reconstruction of the Black Lives Matter Memorial Fence in downtown Washington, D.C.
David Alade (Information Science ‘21) created a mini-magazine of film photography that focuses on displaying the intimacy and beauty of Black hair.
Lauren Floyd (Percussion Performance ‘24) and her percussion trio, Lineage Percussion, composed and commissioned Shadows of Lakeland, a vignette-style piece that musically delves into the rich history of Lakeland, the historic African American community of College Park, Maryland.
Aliyah Jackson (Theatre and Psychology ‘21) created a short film about a Black woman who refutes the concept of being “a slave.” This film is being made to celebrate the prideful history of the Black American by capturing the strength, beauty, and regality of individuals of African descent.
Chisom Ojukwu (Public Health Science ‘21) created “Identity and the Arts Summer Program”, a summer-long virtual art tutoring session for BIPOC youth. Her goal is to connect one-on-one with young students and inspire them to explore the concept of identity through the endless possibilities of the visual arts. Registration for the program will open on May 17, 2021; more information is available on Chisom’s website.
Sadia Alao (‘20): American Idol, a visual poem that explores the magnitude of what it means to be Black in America. It is a catharsis of pain as well as a celebration of culture.
Ines Donfack (‘23) and Maya Lee (‘23): Redefine UMD, a digital collage that explores the internalized shame that Black students have been taught to feel for having common Black features. Redefine UMD seeks to empower Black students to reject Eurocentric standards and embrace who they are.
Hunter Jones (‘20): A mural project looks to analyze the influence and impact of street art in College Park as well as to elevate queer and Black voices. The murals will depict University of Maryland leaders including Elaine J. Coates, David Driskell, Miss Toto (Rock Evans), Dr. Mary Berry and Ben Holman.
Stephen Lyons II (‘23): IGOR: A Virtual Love Affair, a dance film inspired by music from Tyler, The Creator’s 2019 album. After a decade of repressed feelings, a gay man finally declares his love for his longtime best friend at the risk of ruining their relationship.Will this declaration be worth it?
Chidinma Opaigbeogu (‘21): Jisike (Find Your Way Back), a chapbook of poetry and short stories focused on the cultural dissonance that Opaigbeogu has experienced as a Nigerian-American.
Vital Signs Partners
Black Terps Matters
Black Terps Matter is a grassroots anti-racist communal coalition that aims to dismantle all forms and constructs of systemic racism and oppression at the University of Maryland. We employ transparency and intersectionality to support any and all forms of anti-racist idealism. We promote diverse experiences and perspectives substantiated by facts and data to educate expeditious activists whom we align ourselves with. We intend to hold all entities pertaining to the University accountable for every one of their actions, assertions, propensities, and implications.
UMD Office of Diversity & Inclusion
The UMD Office of Diversity & Inclusion serves the University of Maryland by providing leadership and expertise that enriches the experiences of individuals and builds stronger communities. ODI supports the efforts of campus units to achieve their diversity and inclusion goals.
UMD Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA)
The UMD Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy, a unit within the Adele H. Stamp Student Union and the Division of Student Affairs, stands firmly in our role to empower students through education on issues of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion and their intersections. In support of our campus' commitment to diversity, multiculturalism, and social justice, we advance a purposeful campus climate that capitalizes on the educational benefits of diversity, through student-centered advising, advocacy, programs, research, and practices. Our collective work results in positive student outcomes observable in their learning, identity development, involvement, and leadership.
Vital Signs: Creative Arts for Black Lives Mini-Grants are supported in part by The Venable Foundation.