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A group from Art & Soul Hamptons visiting Ma’s House summer 2022 (Photo credit: Jeremy Dennis)

Great news this week from the Shinnecock Indian Reservation’s innovative and forward-thinking Ma’s House: Thanks to help from Creatives Rebuild New York, visiting artists to the BIPOC artist-focused not-for-profit now will receive living stipends during Ma’s residency programs. CRNY is a three-year, $125 million dollar Mellon Foundation-backed program investing in New York State artists—a sector that took an inordinate financial hit during the height of the Covid 19 pandemic, with over 50 percent of performing arts jobs lost during that time.

The renovated artist-in-residence accommodations at Ma’s House (Photo Credit: Jeremy Dennis)

Artist and activist, Jeremy Dennis, founded the Ma’s House artist residency program for BIPOC artists back in August 2021, offering one artist at a time one to two weeks to stay and work in their chosen medium, with the only stipulation: to make an informal public presentation—be it a workshop, performance or showing of their art—at the end of their stay. 

“The pandemic gave us a lot of time to re-evaluate to use of Ma’s House, which is our family home that was passed down from my grandmother through three generations. My family and I decided to turn it into a home for artists and studio space. Doing that in the Hamptons is important, where to even buy a ticket to an art showing can cost $40,” says Dennis. “I’m an artist as well and have participated in residencies all around the country, so idea to start one here to give back and remember others was important.” 

A bead workshop planning session led by Shinnecock craftsperson and daughter of Loretta “Ma” Silver, Denise Silva-Dennis. Also shown here: Ma’s House curator, Brianna Hernandez (Photo credit: Jeremy Dennis)

Dennis got the idea to renovate the home of his grandmother—lovingly referred to as Ma in his family and by many others on the Shinnecock Reservation—in June 2020. Back then, it was in deep disrepair. He had about $2,000 of his own money saved and put it toward the renovation, but he knew he needed much more. “Many don’t realize on Indian reservations, you can’t apply to or receive mortgages or home loans to do repairs,” he says. “And insurance is very expensive or simply unavailable.”  Through a Go Fund Me effort, he initially raised over $40,000, which covered the initial bare-bones repairs that needed to be done. 

Since then, he gained 501(c)(3) status, and has caught the attention of organizations like the Melon Foundation for funding. 

Applications for January, February and March residencies with added living stipends were re-opened as of this week. Click here to access the application