The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced the journal Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora will receive an Art Works grant of $10,000 to support the print and digital publication, promotion, and distribution. Edited by Professor of English Duriel Estelle Harris and printed at Illinois State University’s Publication Unit, Obsidian is an international journal dedicated to the work of peoples and ideas that have migrated across the globe from Africa.
The funds are part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018, which will provide more than $25 million in grants. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that “meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.”
Harris, who has been editor since she brought the journal to Illinois State in 2014, noted celebrating art from around the world is a vital element of remaining engaged citizens. “Our work as a publishing platform is more important than ever,” she said. “The contributions of diasporic African writers and artists—and the scholarship surrounding their work—are critical to our civil engagement as global citizens. We at Obsidian are honored to have the NEA’s support toward fulfilling our mission.”
NEA Chairman Jane Chu noted the grant is a testament to how art infuses and nurtures life. “It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States,” she said. “NEA-supported projects, such as this one to Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, are excellent examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare our children to succeed, and increase the quality of our lives.”
Upcoming issues of Obsidian will publish and promote original print and digital works of poetry, fiction, drama/performance, and visual and media art by contemporary African and African Diaspora artists in continental Africa, the United Kingdom, and the Americas, with the fall 2018 issue dedicated to Ghana.