Announcing Replenish Residents 2022-2023

August 23, 2022

We are pleased to announce the Replenish Residents for 2022-2023: Zandashé Brown, Nia DeCoux, Kenniese S. Franklin, John Lacarbiere III, Karen-Kaia Livers, Endaira Rellek, Walter Sandifer III, Gian Smith, and Akilah Toney. Replenish Residencies (formerly Relief Residencies) provide restorative visioning retreats to Greater New Orleans BIPOC artists and culture bearers.

Based in New Orleans, Zandashé Brown is a writer/director born in and inspired by southern Louisiana. Her work raises a Black femme lens to the tradition of Southern Gothic horror by exploring the axis of catharsis, spirituality, and Black Southern experience. She is an alum of the 2020 Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program for her upcoming short film, BENEDICTION. She is also a 2022 Sundance Screenwriters Lab and Directors Lab fellow for her feature in development, THE MATRIARCH.

Nia DeCoux is a writer, educator, and activist who believes that storytelling and teaching should be the same practice. She has been writing her whole life, and her work explores themes of activism, intersectionality and sustainable social change. Nia is the creator of Revolutionary Rest: Bedtime Stories for Activists from Ancestors and TeenTours NOLA. She’s currently completing her first novel. Her work has been honored by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and the National Black Arts Festival.

Kenniese S. Franklin is a Denver-born, New Orleans-based writer, designer, sculptor and quantum traveler with roots in the Great Plains, Appalachia and the South. Kenniese calls herself a translator of the unseen and finds value in conscious collaboration with the intangible forces that power daily life. Her recent work, Musa’s Message, is a series of household objects made from dried banana fiber that highlight themes of interdependence, malleability, sovereignty and the necessity of biodiversity.

John Lacarbiere III is an artist whose work spans writing, spoken word, and photography. He has several books of poems and photography published as well as spoken word albums. He has most recently been spending time documenting Louisiana wildlife and guiding adults and children on walks in the swamp. While spending time at A Studio in the Woods he will be working on a nature book as well as an environmental education program for teens in New Orleans.

Karen-Kaia Livers is a native New Orleanian who has acted on stage and in films for the past 45 years. Her credits are extensive, beginning with her training at NOCCA. Most recently, she was nominated for Best Actress at the Tribeca Film Festival for her starring role in the film Burning Cane. Karen has worked behind the scenes as a casting director and administrator, including as Treme’s Specialty Casting Director & Musicians’ Coordinator. She is deeply involved in the New Orleans creative community.

Endaira Rellek, aka Ariadne M. Keller, is a multi-disciplinary artist whose heritage is deeply rooted in Southern Louisiana. While she has always been creative, it was a life-changing experience that compelled her to finally put paint to canvas. Channeling the energy of her female ancestors, she reveals the strength and beauty of a woman in her art. While in the woods, Endaira will be focused on completing a series for an upcoming show and working on Panic in the Projects: A Horror Anthology.

Walter Sandifer III was born into New Orleans’ Masking Indian tradition and has made it his lifestyle. Walter works closely with youth, teaching them how to sew and drum. He also collaborates with his father, Big Chief Beautiful, to hold sewing classes for the public. Spy Boy Walter of The Beautiful Creole Apache tribe will use his residency to separate himself from carnival season distractions and come closer to his heritage while finishing his beautiful suit in time for Mardi Gras morning 2023.

Gian Smith is a New Orleans-based, multi-disciplinary artist and community organizer. Gian has hosted a spoken word open mic, Pass It On for the past 14 years. His poetry has been featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition and HBO’s Treme. Smith’s films have traveled to film festivals across the country and been awarded numerous prizes. Currently, Smith serves as festival director for the Black Film Festival of New Orleans, which he founded in 2018.

Akilah Toney is a published writer, poet, dancer, photographer, and youth advocate from New Orleans. Akilah uses the arts as a means to amplify her experiences at the intersections of young Black Queer womanhood in the South. She identifies as a Griot in training and uses her creative processes as artistic libations, a show of gratitude to this land. Through writing, dance, directing, photography, and making soundscapes her artistry is in conversation with her community.