L A V I T FES2023
08. BE Y O ND B E AT S
14. L O NE WO LV E S
16. C HA NG E T H R OU G H A RT
18. R ASS KASS
22. EM P O WER M ENT AV E NUE
16. P IE C ING TO G E TH ER WO RDS
1 D E ’J O N J OY “EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES: DE’JON’S JOURNEY IN ADVOCACY AND IN CLUSION De’jon serves as Assistant Director at Empowerment Avenue. He is an ambitious community organizer with a strong dedication to creating opportunities for cultural learning and increasing policy familiarity among individuals who are most impacted by the carceral system. With a background deeply rooted in social justice, Dejon strives to empower marginalized communities and advocate for their rights. Dejon’s exceptional communication skills and empathetic nature enable him to connect with individuals from all walks of life, instilling a sense of empowerment and motivation within the communities he serves. By fostering an environment of collaboration and inclusion, Dejon strives to build lasting relationships and amplify the voices of the marginalized.
“R R H O DE S SA JON ES: ES S H A P I N G S O C I A L C H A N G E T H R O U G H A R T, A C T I V I S M , A N D A C A D E M I A” Rhodessa Jones is a transformative force, seamlessly intertwining her roles as Co-Artistic Director of Cultural Odyssey, an activist, actress, teaching artist, and social scientist. Her impactful journey spans decades, marked by profound contributions to the realms of arts, academia, and social justice. As the Founder of the award-winning Medea Project, Rhodessa pioneers theater as a vehicle for personal and societal transformation among incarcerated women and those living with HIV, amplifying their voices and fostering empowerment. Beyond her artistic endeavors, Rhodessa’s influence extends globally. Recognized with prestigious awards, including the Anonymous Was A Woman
Award and a U.S. Department of State “ARTS ENVOY” designation, she has shaped narratives in South Africa, the Caribbean, and beyond. Rhodessa’s legacy is deeply rooted in her commitment to arts as social activism, evident in her teachings at Cornell University and Dartmouth College, challenging students to embrace diverse perspectives and catalyze societal change. From her impact on incarcerated women to her collaboration with top artists, Rhodessa Jones remains an inspirational force, exemplifying the restorative power of art and the profound intersection of creativity, compassion, and community.
“Whatever the genre, my intention has been truth-telling, whether I’m on a stage or in a classroom, whether I’m in a prison yard or in a dance studio.”
The Medea Project, Birthright, directed by Pew Fellow Rhodessa Jones, 2015, performed at the Brava Theater Center, San Fransico, CA.
The Medea Project, Birthright, directed by Pew Fellow Rhodessa Jones, 2015, performed at the Brava Theater Center, San Fransico, CA.
“ BE Y ON D B E AT S : ALI A S HAR RI E F ’S HA R M ON I OU S E V OL U TIO N F R O M HIP -HO P T O G LOBAL AC TIV ISM ”
Alia Sharrief is a multifaceted hip hop artist in the music industry. She has performed with stars like Kendrick Lamar, Yasiin Bey, Alicia Keys, and Janelle Monae, to name a few. Alia has received coverage from Vogue, MTV, TED Talk, NPR, Huffington Post, Hype Bae, Covertime Magazine (Dubai), among others. Sharrief uses activism within her music and had the honor to perform at the Women’s March in 2017. Sharrief engages in community organizing for artist with special needs, teens in juvenile halls and students within lower income housing. Alia is the Founder of the Hijabi Chronicles, an organization that seeks to provide a sustainable platform for creative Muslim Women In music and arts. Through Hijabi Chronicles she has started a scholarship for creative Muslim women in lower income housing. Alia employs women of different cultures, races, and backgrounds aiming for artistic unity. Alia’s art collective showcases creativity and innovation from women all over the world as a form of empowerment and women liberation.
Oji Leon Elliott, a native of San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point, discovered his artistic passion early, sketching an iconic image of Michael Jackson in elementary school. It wasn’t until a near-death experience that he embraced art as a tool for inspiration and self-education. A graduate of the Academy of Arts College, Oji draws inspiration from his uncles’ dance group, fusing his artistic talents with a deep love for music. His artistic styles range from abstract to collage, portraits to sacred geometry, and he finds joy in nature photography. Embracing spiritual experiences, including Kundalini awakening, Oji enriches his artwork with new perspectives. As an artist in residence at the Hunters Point shipyard in 2002, he shared his passion through art shows and connected with fellow
“The music inspires the art, and the art inspires the music.” creators. Oji’s creativity extends beyond traditional art forms; he’s been a driving force in 3D animation for over a decade, bringing his visual art and music to life. His album “Sono’theism,” crafted with the support of artists Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins, showcases his belief in sound healing as a form of spirituality. As he looks ahead, Oji plans to explore themes of yoga, sound healing, dance, and transcendental meditation, emphasizing the seamless connection between his music and visual art. The synthesis of his diverse talents speaks to a journey of artistic evolution, where each creation inspires the other in an endless loop of creative expression.
“We maybe free from prison, but we will never be free from our experience of prison.” “Immersing viewers in a profound narrative, “Every Second” unfolds the post-prison life of Reese, grappling with the haunting realization that freedom remains elusive despite his physical release. This thought-provoking short film delves into the enduring repercussions of incarceration, shedding light on the profound challenges individuals face upon reentering society. Beyond a personal struggle, “Every Second” serves as a powerful commentary on the systemic flaws ingrained in our justice system. It compels us to confront the harsh reality that true liberation demands not only personal reckoning with the past but also a collective commitment to dismantling the barriers that perpetuate injustice. The film inspires a call to action, urging us to engage with the broader implications of a flawed system and work towards a future defined by equality and genuine freedom, no matter one’s past experiences.”
FILMMAKER: ANTWAN WILLIAMS DANCER: MAURICE REED
JO E Y P A G A D U AN ’S E X P E DIT ION OF A RT A N D A DV OC A C Y
From Incarceration to Inspiration
Joey Pagaduan is an actor, writer, and storyteller. He was introduced to theater by accident, but fell in love with the art form and hasn’t looked back. While incarcerated, he found Performances @ Solano to give actors, poets, and musicians opportunities to write, workshop, and perform their original works while in incarceration. Joey also wrote, directed, and curated several short plays for the organization. After 23 years of incarceration, Joey paroled in 2022. He works at a social justice non-profit dedicated to providing re-entry services and housing to people who were formerly incarcerated. He believes in the restorative power of art, and the power of storytelling to take control of a narrative and promote healing. Joey lives in Berkeley.
GRAND NATIONXL An independent artist collective and creative agency run, managed, and led by a wild pack of lone wolves. This Art House is driven by breaking the mold, redefining what it means to collaborate, create, and conquer. We merge our talents, experiences, and expertise to forge a creative powerhouse.
We’re on a mission to ignite the creative community’s flame. Redefining collaboration, bridging the gap between the lone wolf’s talents and the strength of teamwork within the pack. We believe that when creativity and community collide, the results are nothing short of extraordinary.
J UA N R . F U ENT ES Juan R. Fuentes is a graduate of San Francisco State University. He has taught at the Mission Campus/City College SF, the California College of the Arts, Oakland CA and was visiting faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute’s print department. Juan was also director of Mission Grafica at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Inspired by the Chicano Movement and mentors Rupert Garcia and Malaquias Montoya, Juan has dedicated his art as a cultural activist to supporting and being part of a global movement for social change. His silkscreen posters and relief prints have addressed many issues as they relate to communities of color, social justice, racism, and international struggles for liberation.
Juan’s studio Pajaro Editions is part of Consejo Grafico Nacional, a collective of Chicano/Latino print studios. His prints and posters reside in various institutions and museums including, the Mexican Museum of San Francisco, the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Fine Arts Museum, the Library of Congress, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles and CEMA, the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, University of Santa Barbara. CEMA has also set up a personal archive for his works. Juan’s art has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally. Awards: 2019 Harriet Barlow Award, Blue Mountain Center 2010 Recipient of Activist Award, Southern Graphics Council International 2009 Art is a Hammer Award, Center for the Study of Political Graphics 2005 Recipient of an Honorary Membership to the California Society of Printmakers
“CHA M P IO NING CHANGE THR OU GH ART ”
Born: Artesia, New Mexico 1950
Ras Kass is a Legacy Artist., a Hip Hop purists’ archetype & a rappers worst nightmare; Dr Dre has called him a Superstar. Ice Cube consistently ranks him as a Top 5 lyricist. his nom de plume is literally “Your favorite rappers’ , Favorite Rapper” He has always been considered criminally underrated - which simply means He Has Not Been Given The Right Team Framework & Proper Exposure. He is a lyricist, published author, Exec Producer, SAG actor, ghost writer, Voice over actor, music consultant, Public Speaker and Urban Philosopher. Ras recently received a B+ GPA in the recently-Viral “Hip Hop Report Card” from Old School Legend, Kool Moe Dee. He’s worked with the greats: DJ Quik to Dj Premiere, The Rza to Kanye West; from Apollo Brown, The Alchemist to multiple Grammy award winning funk producer Jack Splash. and collaborated with elite rappers like Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, Mobb Deep, Nipsey Hussle, Jay Z, 2Chainz, The Lox, Talib Kweli, Too Short and too many more to name born in Watts, California as John R. Austin IV. In 1996 he had twin sons (Ras and Taj) with R&B and soul singer-songwriter Teedra Moses; The twins are now half the member buzzing new group called Coast Contra.
His sister Tiffany Austin is a lauded Jazz Singer. BMF Entertainment artist Barima “Bleu DaVinci” McKnight is his cousin. Ras Kass sent waves through the hip-hop world with his debut independent single release “Remain Anonymous,” earning him a Hip-Hop Quotable in The Source Magazine. Before his signing with Priority/EMI Records, His first album, Soul on Ice, was released in 1996. Taking its name from a book by Eldridge Cleaver, Ras addressed racial relations in the same manner, most notably on the Diamond D produced “Soul On Ice” remix, and “Nature of the Threat.” The album was released on Priority Records, as was the follow-up, Rasassination. “Nature Of The Threat” is a groundbreaking song from Ras Kass first album used in University History classes around the world as it challenges the dogma of traditional western history taught in American class rooms and presents the historical context and facts to support an opposing point of view from the perspective of a modern revolutionary.
Mark A. Cádiz aka Rev. M. Seishin
ARTIST Cory Devon Arthur
EMPOWERMENT AV E N U E Our mission is to normalize the inclusion of incarcerated writers and artists in mainstream venues by bridging the gap between them and harnessing this creative proximity as a path to de-carceration and public safety. To achieve our mission we have a twofold strategy. We support the most talented writers and artists in prisons across the country, providing them the resources they need to get their creative work outside prison walls, be fairly compensated, and contribute their creativity to the movements of abolition, de-carceration, and liberation of incarcerated people. Secondly, we support capacity building for publications, galleries, museums and other organizations committed to this work, to help them meaningfully center currently-incarcerated people in creative spaces while fairly compensating them.
“SRI L ANKA VIBES: RAS OF
AN PIONEER OF P OSITI VE S CEYLON’S TWO DEC ADES HIP-HOP L EGACY”
Ras Ceylon is noted as the first Sri Lankan Hip-Hop artist to release an album (debut in 1999) in the west. He has been bringing uplifting messages to the masses for over 20 years, releasing 7 albums to date and appearing on multiple projects with notable Rap and Reggae artists. He works closely with Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. Black Panther Party Cubs & is a member of Sizzla Kalonji’s Judgment Yard fam.
Maserati-E was born in Oakland Ca. He was
featured in the Emmy nominated Documentary “Q-Ball”. Maserati-E is formally incarcerated, he learned sound design and film while incarcerated. He’s Currently the Sound Designer for the podcast Uncuffed which is produced in Solano State Prison and San Quentin State Prison and the co-host of The Last Mile Radio on SiriusXM. Maserati-E plans to show the world how people are not defined by their past or current conditions and give a glimpse of what could be accomplished if afforded the opportunity. Maserati-E Plans to change the world by changing the way we view the world.
When he isn’t saving kittens from trees or walking blind people across the street, Jim works as a Production Assistant Intern with SFBATCO. Recently released from an extended stay in the Shadow Realm, he hopes to conquer this strange new world and make sense of daily life in the Bay Area.
Tirumari Jothi Tirumari is a geeky stand-up comedian, improviser, sketch comedian, and actor based in the Bay Area and has performed at a variety of venues around California and the country. You can find him doing standup, writing and acting in sketch comedy, or online playing competitive video games where he loses to children.
Andre Miloslavich Andre is a mixed-medium visual artist cultivating a surreal and whimsical style out of Oakland. From a young age, he drew inspiration from ballpoint pen sketches reflecting 1960’s Chicano culture that his uncle sent to him from incarceration. Having been incarcerated for 17 years himself, Andre hopes to see reform in the criminal justice system, and to uplift communities as a professional artist.
AHMAD AL LEN’ S SOULF UL HARMO NRY Ahmad Allen is a 23 year old artist in every meaning of the word. Allen grew up in Louisville, Ky where he found his love for musicianship. His talents have blessed him enough to play several halls at the Kennedy Center for various occasions including NSO POPS Ft. Kenny Baby Face Edmonds, and DC.Capital Allstars Competition where he won a reward of $10,000. Ahmad is a classically trained vocalist which gives him a strong foundation that supports his choice to not be restricted by genre. He rather shares what he is feeling with those who do the same. “Much Love”- Ahmad.
“ JE RRY L AW : THE HILARIOUS HEA RT B E A T OF O AKLAND COMED Y ”
et ready for a comedic whirlwind with Jerry Law, the sensational rising star from Oakland, CA! Brace yourself because his style of comedy is nothing short of raw and real, promising an unforgettable experience.
What to Expect:
Jerry Law isn’t just a comedian; he’s a crowd-pleaser and an entertainer for all ages. His performances are a rollercoaster of laughter and enlightenment, offering a blend of real and raw comedy that leaves audiences both entertained and enlightened. Jerry is a people person, loved by all for his infectious energy, captivating smile, and utmost respect for the audience. He doesn’t attack; he engages, making every moment a shared experience. If you’re in need of a high-energy host or comedian, Jerry Law is your go-to guy.
Meet Jerry Law, the dynamic and genuine comedian who brings boundless energy and honesty to the stage. His favorite topics range from relationships to parenting and current events, and he’s a master of the roast. Get ready to laugh, learn, and experience the irresistible charm of Jerry Law – the heartbeat of Oakland comedy!
J Smacka is an artist who has built his music career on a foundation of resilience, determination, and raw emotion. Raised in the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Reno, Nevada, with Richmond, California as his home base, J Smacka experienced a challenging past that includes a decade-long incarceration starting from the age of 16. These hardships, however, fueled his creative expression, allowing him to channel his experiences into honest lyricism that resonates with listeners worldwide. Drawing inspiration from personal losses and the complexities of his life post-incarceration, J Smacka’s music serves as a testament to the transformative power of creativity amidst adversity. With ambitious plans to take his music global in 2023, this artist’s journey is one to watch.
PIECING TOGETHER WORDS
Granddaughter of immigrants, documented and undocumented, baker of pies, both sweet and savory, actively trying to make the world a better place devorah major served as San Francisco’s Third Poet Laureate. She is a poetry performance artist who performs her work nationally and internationally with and without musicians. She has worked with First Voice on several projects, most recently in Brenda Wong-Aoki’s “Soul of the City.” She has two poetry/jazz CDs with Daughters of Yam and is featured on several others. She has seven poetry books, the most recently califia’s daughter, two novels, four chapbooks and a host of short stories, essays, and poems in anthologies and periodicals. http:// www.devorahmajor.com I work as both what is now call a “page poet” which is to day a poet whose poetry lives on the page and a performing poet (which I believe is the essence of poetry, to hear it on the air) and as such besides performing as a solo artist I have been in some productions with my poetry. In June 2015 I premiered my poetry play Classic Black: Voices of 19th Century African-Americans in San Francisco at the San Francisco International Arts Festival. Before that in 2004 I was given a commission by the Oakland East Bay Symphony to collaborate with composer Guillermo Galindo to create and perform in Trade Route, a symphony with spoken word and chorus, that premiered in 2005.
D E V OR A H MA J OR
MI NISTER K I NG X PYEFAC E “Meet the Trailblazer: Min King X, aka Pyeface, a Returning Citizen and Advocate for Peaceful Change. With 18 years behind bars, including time in Pelican Bay and various state and federal prisons, once a pioneer of the prison hunger strike now as the Executive Director of Prison Focus, promoting peace as the ‘New Cool with peace.”