Appreciative Reflection – Experimental Media Artist
Kasumi and I met for the first time about fifteen years ago at a potential client meeting
where the intention was to collaborate on an advertising project. The client’s office, located
in downtown Cleveland, was in total disarray with boxes everywhere and as Kasumi
recollects, “we couldn’t tell if the client was coming or going.” We were both self-
supporting single mothers who rarely declined freelance work. We bonded that day while
walking out and intuitively knew that we’d never see a dime if we agreed to work on the
project he described. After that, we worked together on a few commercial projects ranging
from banking to hand sanitizers. There was a comfort level of trust and mutual respect that
allowed for collaboration.
We both made the shift to academia over the following years and continue to pursue our
respective creative endeavors. For the past nine years, Kasumi has been teaching digital
arts at Cleveland Institute of Art. I migrated seven years ago to Winston-Salem State
University – a historically black college that is part of the University of North Carolina
Recently, Kasumi was the recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship (2011) with a
$44,000 grant to create an experimental feature-length project entitled Shockwaves. Click
on next link for Guggenheim award information (http://www.gf.org/fellows/17097-kasumi).
The same year, while on sabbatical from The Cleveland Institute of Art, she received a
$20,000 Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Community Partnership for Arts and
Culture in Cuyahoga County, The awards mentioned above are a few of the many other
artistic grants Kasumi has received over the years. This recognition and remuneration has
allowed Kasumi to be more discerning about the type of independent work she accepts.
Starting Out: Never Say No
Kasumi, like me, would take on just about any freelance job in the beginning. She notes, “I
would never refuse a job. Every time a gig came along – even if I’d never done that
particular thing – I’d take it on. Then, of course, I’d have to scramble to learn how to do it.