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Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show sub-curator Jessica Todd


Jessica Todd is the Development Coordinator for Tempus Projects, a nonprofit art gallery and residency, and the Administrative Coordinator for Crab Devil, an interdisciplinary arts collective, both based in Tampa, FL. She is a writer, curator, artist, and arts administrator who is passionate about building the creative infrastructures that support artists and arts organizations, as well as studying and addressing issues of equity, access, and inclusion in the arts. Prior to moving to Tampa in 2020, she was the Residency Manager at the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, FL for six years. She holds a BA in Metal Art & Technology from Penn State University and an MFA in Jewelry/Metals from Kent State University.

As a curator, Jessica strongly believes in paying artists, which is why she was thrilled to receive a City of Fort Myers Arts & Culture Grant for her 2020 exhibition, Plays Well with Others, presented at the Alliance for the Arts. The generous grant allowed her to pay for artwork shipping, material stipends to each artist, advertising costs, and installation needs. She and the artists also created and printed a coloring book using the grant funds. The coloring books were sold to the public and the profits – $523 – were donated to Southern Fried Queer Pride, an Atlanta-based non-profit organization empowering Black queer and QTPOC centered communities in the South through the arts. A “part two” of the exhibition, called Playing Around Town, also traveled to the Cape Coral Art Center afterwards, reaching even more Southwest Florida audiences.

Plays Well with Others was curated by Jessica and featured eight local and national artists – including Isabella Baquerizo, Whitney Hackett, and Chloe Lewis – who created work that engages with play and toys in interactive, mischievous, and subversive ways. The exhibition included works of all media that entertain while disrupting the status quo; one could easily enjoy it as a collection of nostalgia and delight, but the artists skillfully transformed the lighthearted theme of “play” into a critical dialogue of contemporary issues. This vibrant and immersive installation engaged audiences of all ages and backgrounds and introduced fresh voices to the southwest Florida arts scene through (socially distant!) public programming.

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May 4, 2022.

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