February 10, 2023—Pianist-vocalist-composer and interdisciplinary artist Samora Pinderhughes has been awarded a one million dollar grant from the Mellon Foundation in support of The Healing Project (THP), a years-long exploration of incarceration, structural violence and healing in the United States using music, visual arts, film, and language as abolitionist action.
Distributed over 38 months, the funding will go towards the expansion of art works in The Healing Project exhibition, the creation of a book version of The Healing Project, the continuation of THP’s exhibitions and free community programs, and the creation of additional albums & films. The grant also provides the initial funding for The Healing Project Transformative Impact Fund, which provides seed money and mentorship for selected interviewees who are currently or formerly incarcerated to work on their own special projects over the course of the grant, aiming to make their own dreams & goals come true.
Pinderhughes’ work encompasses over 10 years of recorded conversations with more than 100 people of color across 15 states about their experiences, stories and ideas surrounding healing from structural violence. By highlighting the specific stories of people such as Keith LaMar, Pitt Panther, and others who have urgent cases regarding their imprisonment, The Healing Project aims to shine light on their stories, show their brilliance, and ultimately help free them.
In 2022 Pinderhughes released three integral elements of The Healing Project including his exhibition debut at The Yerba Buena Center for The Arts. The exhibit featured a constellation of creative works including films, sound works, physical pieces and contributed artworks from established artists like Titus Kaphar and currently incarcerated artists including Pitt Panther. The heart of the exhibition was the Surround Room, where the audio interviews that Pinderhughes conducted for The Healing Project were scored to original music presented in surround sound. The exhibition also included workshops and events, all free and open to the public, and free performances featuring Pinderhughes and special guests.
The critically acclaimed album GRIEF marked Pinderhughes’ debut as a vocalist and was written in the spirit of music from the ’60s and ’70s by artists like Nina Simone and Curtis Mayfield who made powerful statements about life and social justice through their music. The album was included in several “Best of 2022” lists including The New York Times and NPR.
Finally, the digital archive of the installation was also unveiled in 2022 as an open-source, mobile-friendly site built on AR/VR technology where people can listen directly to the recordings of The Healing Project interviewees scored to music. Pinderhughes created the digital archive alongside collaborators including Rafiq Bhatia, Chris Pattishall, Jack DeBoe and Adam O’Farrill, which features a brand-new visual world created by CRUX that site visitors can digitally walk through.