Carnegie Mellon University
January 28, 2019

Alumni Awarded Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Grant

Honor salutes their animated film they started as undergraduates

By Andy Ptaschinski

Andy Ptaschinski
  • School of Art
  • 412-268-1533
Pam Wigley
  • College of Fine Arts
  • 412-268-1047

Carnegie Mellon University's Kelli Clark and Andrew Edwards are among the recipients of the latest round of Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grants. Clark, who graduated with a bachelor's degree of fine arts in December, and Edwards, a fifth-year scholar, will use the funds to further develop their animated film "Calypso."

Following a prestigious older black woman, "Calypso" confronts issues surrounding artificial intelligence, race, and the future of technology, stressing the importance of having minorities represented in tech corporations.

The film "Calypso" confronts stresses the importance of having minorities represented in tech corporations.

"Carnegie Mellon has given us unique exposure to the world of developing technologies and, subsequently, the developing problems," Clark said. "We wanted to share a narrative centered around black women in these spaces where bias can sway the future of tech."

Clark and Edwards initially worked on "Calypso" as part of the Senior Studio course, and an initial version was exhibited at the annual senior exhibition. With the grant, they will bring accomplished actors and musicians into their project to further bring their story to life.

"Watching friends, family and the general public gather around our animation was beyond gratifying," Edwards said. "Having had a taste of our fully realized vision, we were galvanized to complete a lengthier animation and further propel this story into the public sphere."

Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh is a collaborative effort of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. A panel of local and national experts from a variety of artistic disciplines reviews all applications and makes recommendations to foundation staff.

"Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh celebrates and supports the dynamic, often prestigious work of local black artists," said Shaunda McDill, Arts & Culture program officer for The Heinz Endowments. "We hope it also will expedite the manifestation of that inclusively imagined future for our community."

"'Calypso' explores themes of freedom, acceptance, gentrification and violence, which are themes that many people are coping with now in the city of Pittsburgh," said Celeste Smith, Arts and Culture program officer at The Pittsburgh Foundation. "'Calypso' is an example of how art truly can, as Nina Simone once said, represent the time."

Carnegie Mellon University is committed to educating, empowering and aligning its community around the world to address the Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, which aim to create a more peaceful, prosperous planet with just and inclusive societies. Recognizing the critical contributions that universities are making through education, research and practice, CMU publicly committed to undertaking a Voluntary University Review of the Global Goals. The 17 Global Goals cover wide-ranging issues, including reducing violence, ending extreme poverty, promoting equitable education, fighting inequality and injustice, advancing economic growth and decent work, and preventing the harmful effects of climate change by 2030.

The preceding story demonstrates CMU's work toward attaining Global Goal 10.