Spring Campaign 2022 Featuring: Cris Romento
This Spring, we’re raising $65,000 for Washington State artists! Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have raised and distributed over $1.4 million to hundreds of Washington State artists, and reached thousands more through programming and resources. Your gift today, in any amount, will help us continue to provide critical support and resources for artists. Help us reach our goal and make your gift before June 30!
As part of our Spring Fundraising Campaign, we are interviewing Washington State artists about the ways they have embraced change during the pandemic and what support from Artist Trust has meant for them. This week, we spoke with Clark County media artist and 2021 Grants for Artists’ Progress (GAP) Award recipient, Cris Romento about celebrating the experience of people of color and her hopes for the future of artists in Washington State. Cris shared, “I am inspired to celebrate and normalize stories that aren’t only stories of struggle.”
Read her full interview below!
Check out recent work here: https://bigalohapictures.wixsite.com/siutkfilm/home
Tell us a little about your work/artistic practice.
Hi! I’m a filmmaker creating what I like to call “feel-good documentaries” and narratives. I celebrate the experiences of people of color, women, and Hawaiian culture.
What have the last two years been like for you and your artistic practice? How have you and/or your work changed in the pandemic?
At the end of February of 2020, I wrapped up my first short film, and began pre-production on a documentary exploring the different kinds of love we have in our lives. However, by spring 2020, the production industry shut down completely. When the George Floyd protests began in May, the emotional anxiety churned inside me unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. It started conversations with people of color I never had before. I already felt strongly about making sure I had female-led projects with inclusive teams. I felt a larger collective needing change. Because the grief was so palpable, community poured into these hopes.
A while ago, I saw Aaron Phillip give a beautiful speech that hit me to the core. She said, people label me as “the black trans disabled model. But before anything else, I want people to see that I’m a teenage girl….with a job and dreams. I am a person period.”
This is all I wanted as a young, mixed-race kid moving to the United States. People are starved to see beyond the tropes. I feel pulled to tell more enriched stories of otherness, which is what I know. Struggle should not be our identity. I want to normalize stories outside of this storyline. I am inspired to tell joyful narratives.
What are your hopes for the future of artists in Washington State? What would an ideal world look like for artists?
When you are a first-generation person of color in America, there is a relatable sense of hardship. Traditional family values as well as economic hardship can deter an artist’s career.
I’ve been in that hard place of wanting to make my family happy because there is no financial or emotional safety net if I fail. At the same time, feeling all this art inside of me, I desperately wanted a chance to create.
I want the disparity to stop. I want artists to be able to happily exist, pay their rent, and show stories of their own successfully. I want these to bleed into every art there is. I want the journey of artistic discovery to be accessible for everyone.
What did the support from Artist Trust’s Grants for Artists’ Progress (GAP) mean to you? What did you do with the support?
First off, thank you for the support! I’m using the GAP funding towards a documentary I’m very excited to make. The aloha film is a refreshing narrative of Native diaspora; illuminating the beautiful resilience of the aloha spirit and ohana. It will show Hawaiian optimism in the midst of struggle to maintain cultural identity. I want to share this film as an educational tool that can be used for nonprofits and organizations supporting diverse communities.
How is Artist Trust’s work important to Washington State artists, especially at this moment in history? Why should people support Artist Trust as donors now?
I read an article about how wealthy people (aka those who come from a household with a 6-figure income) are 10 times more likely to become artists. Artist Trust helps close gaps like these by supporting and uplifting people from all backgrounds. Supporting Artist Trust means supporting inclusivity in the Pacific Northwest. We need this to flourish! Representation matters! Article: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/wealth-strong-predictor-whether-individual-pursues-creative-profession-180972072/