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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Supporting emerging artists of color

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Lisa Brown
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Alessandra Santos Pye
Work by Lisa Brown, photographer and Chrysalis Institute alumnus, Washington D.C., from the "Look to the East" film photography series.

In 2020, psychotherapist and artist Alessandra Santos Pye spent many hours wondering if the time was right to realize her dream of establishing a multi-faceted retreat center. It was. The pandemic isolated artists. So, Pye initially created the Chrysalis Institute for Emerging Artists as a virtual retreat with three parts – the Milkweed Learning Hub, the Waystation Podcast, and the Chrysalis Retreat. She hopes the retreat will eventually be an actual place, not just a space online. It’s geared toward artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, or persons of color.

A conversation with Chrysalis Institute founder Alessandra Santos Pye

“I’m a psychotherapist and an artist and a facilitator, so these worlds started to really blend in and collide during the pandemic and during the deep, deep, painful base of social unrest that we were all experiencing,” Pye says. “There’s something about the collective and the personal that started to make a lot of sense, and the dream to have a retreat space, a rest space, a respite space for people of color started to become more concrete.”

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Chrysalis Institute for Emerging Artists
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Alessandra Santos Pye
Chrysalis Institute logo

The physical home of The Chrysalis Institute is currently on the unceded land of the Three Fires Confederacy – the Ojibwe, the Odawa, and the Pottawatomi. Milkweed Hub was one of the three parts Pye created for artists. For now, it is a virtual residency that includes online discussions, workshops, book clubs, and other resources that are available to participants at no cost. The second part is the Waystation Podcast—a guided dialogue created to highlight and amplify the creative trajectories of emerging artists of color. The physical Chrysalis Retreat is projected to be available in the fall of 2024 as a month-long retreat for artists that will include meals, accommodations, and natural surroundings.

Pye says she brings her psychotherapy skills to Chrysalis. “I really rely on that background,” she says. “Even though we are not doing therapy in these cohorts. These cohorts are by no means meant to be a therapy group, but I for sure rely a lot on that background.”

To learn more about Chrysalis Institute or to apply, visit The Chrysalis Institute for Emerging Artists.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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