Swarm Apiary Artist Program


SWARM seeks artists, artist groups or arts based organizations who are, or are led by, people of color, LGBTQQIA+ people and/or underserved populations, who would benefit from a retreat at Swarm Artist Residency free of cost. In exchange for lodging and space benefits, artists will share their craft with the SWARM community through a master class, artist talk, or other sharing of their work. An apiary is a place where bees are cultivated; SAAP is a space for artistic projects to pollinate and thrive.

Resident Artists Will Receive:

  • A place of nourishment, care, and retreat

  • Free reserved lodgings for 3-5 days at Swarm's retreat location

  • Free dinner

  • Reserved meeting space

  • Opportunity to receive feedback on new work production through our vibrant artistic community

Resident Artists Will Provide:

  • A one to two hour contribution to the community in one of the following ways: providing a workshop, artist talk, performance, or other showing of artistic work

  • Support for community upkeep and wellness (hospitality) alongside all other Swarm participants

  • Post residency feedback to the Hive

As healthy gardens thrive from the planting of a wide range of seeds, Swarm's success depends on the richness, depth, and diversity of its community. Artists of color, queer, gender-expansive and other artists working in non-dominant spaces are strongly encouraged to apply.


2017 SAAP Artists


Quenna Lené Barrett

Quenna Lené Barrett is an actress, organizer, and teaching artist blending T.O. techniques with acting skills to amplify teens’ voices and hold space to rehearse/tell/change the stories of their lives. Continuing to build the world she wants to see/live in, she is now developing personal practices of poetic and participatory performance.

Lily Be

Lily Be is a Chicago native, a momma, and storyteller. A graduate of the school of Hard Knocks and the University of Life, Lily exists to bring stories to life in the people that have been told their stories do not matter. She doesn't pride herself on being a "crafted" storyteller, but in being able to bring out the best stories in all those she meets. Lily is the creator, host, and producer of the monthly off-book storytelling series, The Stoop, and teaches storytelling at Second City. She has been featured on RISK, The Moth, and Shannon Cason's Homemade Stories. You can follow her and her show at www.thestoop.us. Lily Be is proof that there is no bad in life from which good cannot come.

Bea Cordelia

Bea Cordelia is a Chicago-bred, internationally slandered writer, filmmaker, performance artist, actor, producer, educator, and activist whose work uplifts and reimagines the narratives of transgender people. Her “life-changing” solo show Chasing Blue has featured in Steppenwolf Theatre's LookOut performance series and The Brick’s inaugural Trans Theatre Festival in Brooklyn. In 2016, she developed her first multimedia installation The Cosmic Body in a University of Chicago Performance Lab residency through Salonathon; was made a Luminarts Cultural Foundation Creative Writing Fellow for her poem “The Future,” and made headlines for her lawsuit against the City of Chicago regarding its sexist & transphobic ordinance forbidding the exposure of breasts in establishments with liquor licenses. She was just honored as one of the Windy City Times' 2017 30 Under 30, is represented by Paonessa Talent Agency, and is currently working on the forthcoming web series The T with co-creator Daniel Kyri and distributor Open TV.

Mykele Deville

Mykele Deville is an actor, curator, poet, and rapper from the West Side of Chicago. He most recently appeared in Octagon at Jackolope Theater. He performs poetry all over Chicago. His style has been described as lo-fi liberation raps, the personal, and storytelling on his 3 recently released mixtapes Super Predator and Each One, Teach One and Peace, Fam. He is also a member of the music based poetry collective, Growing Concerns. 

Growing Food + Justice Collective

El Semillero

El Semillero (Spanish for seedbed or nursery) is a Chicago-based playwriting circle dedicated to fostering emerging Latinx playwrights and their work. Sponsored by ALTA Chicago (The Alliance of Latinx Theater Artists) and in residency at Victory Gardens Theater, El Semillero fosters playwrights developing first drafts of original plays over the course of 12-18 months, culminating in a series of free bi-annual public readings. Current Semillero playwrights: 

Nancy García Loza is a Chicago-based, Mexican-American border-fluid writer. She serves as Co-Creative Director of the Alliance of Latinx Theater Artists (ALTA). Since its launch in 2014, she has participated in ALTA’s Latinx Playwrights Circle: El Semillero. Her inaugural play, MACHA: a pocha sister story, received commendation as a finalist for the Theater on the Lake in the Works: New Play Commission (2017) along with workshop readings via Semillero and DePaul University's Center for Latino Research. She was recently selected to participate in the 2017 Fornés Playwriting Workshop culminating in a workshop reading at Greenhouse Theater. She is developing her story piece Eckhart Park Echoes into a full length play, Rasca Cielos, and will present a staged reading of this new play via the Chicago Theatre Marathon this July 2017. As a storyteller, she made her stage debut this year with pieces including: Motherdom (Saints & Sinners - Collaboraction), Eckhart Park Echoes (Saints & Sinners - Steppenwolf), and Pepe El Toro (YO SOY Noche Victoria- Victory Gardens Theater). She is an Artistic Associate of the Teatro Vista family since December 2016. She is writing plays, short stories, corridos, radical obituaries, and more. She identifies as a pocha, her family calls her La Güera, and her favorite word is chula. She is thrilled to attend SWARM SAAP and work toward a new play, Hollywood G.T. Oh, as well as, a book of essays centered on border fluidity and her family.

Wilfredo (Freddie) Ramos Jr. is a Chicago-based playwright and educator. Freddie's play, Incorporate, was named as a Semifinalist for the 2017 O'Neill Theatre Center National Playwrights Conference and as an Honorable Mention for 50 Playwrights Project's Best Unproduced Latin@ Plays 2017. Incorporate, the first in a trilogy about democracy in the United States, received a stage reading in January 2017 (dir. Alyssa Vera Ramos). The second play in the trilogy, Insinuate, will receive a staged reading with Semillero later this year. Stay tuned! As an educator, Freddie works with Steppenwolf Theatre, Northlight Theatre, American Theatre Company, and Chicago Improv Productions, among others. www.wilfredoramosjr.com

Lucas Garcia is a Chicago-based writer and dramaturg from Albuquerque, NM. In addition to being the Workshop Assistant for the 2017 Fornés Workshop, they are also Content Coordinator for the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists. Lucas has worked as a dramaturg with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Hypocrites, Chicago Dramatists, and is a guest dramaturg at ALTA's Open Dramaturgy Office Hours. Their work can be found most recently on the blog of The Brillantina Projectplainchina, VCU’s anthology of undergraduate work, and in Re: Visions, the literary journal of the University of Notre Dame’s Creative Writing department. Lucas has performed recently as part of Safe Haven, Haven Theatre company’s pop-up event series. Their play, Out of Orbit, was produced as part of 2015 ND Theatre NOW! at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts. Lucas is thrilled to be at Swarm this year!

Seneca Kern incorporates experience working in the community and his grandmother's garden with a love of food to build localized food systems for homes, schools, businesses and common spaces. Focused on promoting self-sustainability, effective resource allocation and economic empowerment, he looks to help re-energize the food movement with the most local, organic, and sustainable food possible: your own. 

Also a burgeoning handmade natural jewelry maker, his work is designed to bridge the chasm between the trauma surrounding the black experience with farming in America and our undying passion for being fly as possible. Interests include eating, dancing, meeting new people, teaching, learning, exploring new things and places and growing his own food. All of which makes this "job" the best he's ever had!


2016 SAAP Artists


Aymar Jean Christian

Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. His manuscript, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Networks, explores web series as a space of innovation independent of legacy television development. He has been published in Continuum, Cinema Journal, Transformative Works & Cultures, and Journal of Communication Inquiry, in addition to multiple edited collections. His current research project, Open TV (beta), is a platform for television by queer, trans, cis-women or artists of color. He has released three pilots and three series, receiving recognition by the Tribeca Film Festival, Gotham Awards and the City of Chicago, along with funding from Northwestern, University of Chicago, Propeller and Voqal Funds. Dr. Christian has also served as a judge, curator and expert on video and web TV for the Peabody Awards, Tribeca Film Festival, Streamy Awards, and Philadelphia Museum of Art. He received his PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012.


FEMelanin is a collective of multi-disciplinary, self-identified femme artists of color. We craft performance art and sacred space. We love our melanin. We’re tired of our stories being told by white males, being pawns for someone else’s vision, and being forced into brownface or sugar-coated stories of privilege. We own our voices - without apology. Plus, we have so much fun.


FEMelanin made their performance debut in October 2015 with the delightfully rageful Teenage Activist Slumber Party, which they created for The Dojo’s Live Lit under the theme “Growing Up” and then reprised for Salonathon’s “Early Work.” From there they developed Bedtime Stories of White Supremacy, which enjoyed life at Mana Contemporary in November and December of 2015. In 2016 they were invited back to The Dojo to celebrate “Afrology” during Black History Month, and returned to Mana to collaborate with #NewGlobalMatriarchy for a 24/7 livestream through ACRE TV’s “The Set Speaks.”

At SWARM, FEMelanin will focus on the development of an original, participatory TYA play titled Epic Tales from the Land of Melanin, which will make its official debut at the Chicago Kids Fringe Festival this summer!


Stacy Rene Erenberg

Stacy Rene Erenberg is a vocalist, activist, healer, songwriter and storyteller hailing from the north side of Chicago. Musically she seamlessly blends improvisational and traditional genres with sultry sweet vocals that create an inventive interpretation of jazz and blues. Stacy believes in the power of storytelling through music. Stacy Rene’s original lyrics tell stories of love, struggle and resistance in movements for social change.

At Swarm, Stacy is excited to record new work surrounded by beautiful nature and good company. To listen to songs from her EP, Sing Like Honey, visit www.stacyrene.com


Isaac Gomez

Isaac Gomez is a writer, dramaturg and the Literary Manager at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago where he curates the Public Programs series, directs the new play development department, and heads the IGNITION Festival of New Plays. His dramaturgy credits include Cocked, The Who & The What, An Issue of Blood, Hillary and Clinton, Death and the Maiden, Rest (VGT, Chicago); Tilikum (Sideshow Theater) My Mañana Comes, Between You, Me, and the Lampshade, In the Time of Butterflies (Teatro Vista, Chicago); good friday, The Hairy Ape (Oracle Productions); Badfic Love (Strange Bedfellows, Chicago); assistant dramaturg on Luna Gale and The Solid Sand Below (Goodman Theatre). As playwright: La Ruta (Goodman Theatre's Latina/o Theatre Celebration, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Latino Play Project; Austin Critics Table New Play Award 2013; Pivot Arts Incubator Series); The Displaced (ALTA Chicago - workshop, Upcoming: Definition Theater Company - workshop); The Way She Spoke (Greenhouse Theater, DCASE Residency). He is the Creative Director at the Alliance of Latino Theatre Artists (ALTA) in Chicago where he runs and is a participant of El Semillero: ALTA Chicago's Latino Playwrights Circle, an Artistic Associate of Teatro Vista, a steering committee member of the Latina/o Theatre Commons (LTC) and an artistic community member at The Hypocrites in Chicago.

At Swarm, Isaac will be using the time and space to create the first draft of a brand new play. 


Creating opportunities for people to create and participate instead of consume, I use art to redistribute energetic connections in people and communities. Using this idea as an internal compass, I have undergone a personal reevaluation system of what is “high” or “low” in art, and also in human experience. I see creation and participation as wealth, and conspicuous consumption as poverty.
— Monika Neuland

Monika Neuland

Social Practice Artist, Monika Neuland has a 20 year history manifesting creative work spaces that center around access in the arts and materials reuse. Through The Social Fiber Project, Monika creates welcoming habitats, specifically designed to discover what art and creative industry can do for people who have no regular access to social, economic or educationally driven upward mobility.

At Swarm, Monika will be working on community pieces with collaborators Anthony Wood,  Eunice Jones, and Arnoldo Classen, artists associated with ENVISION UNLIMITED, an organization committed to providing persons with disabilities or other special needs quality services which promote choice, independence and community integration.