Cyphers are sacred. “Cypher comes from the Arabic word, sifr, meaning the number zero,” Sadia Nawab, IMAN Arts & Culture Manager, explains. “This zero represents a circle, which is the shape of a Hip Hop cypher, and represents communal equality, where no person is more prominent than any other person.” Since the earliest iterations of Hip Hop culture, the cypher has been a critical public space wherein Black, Brown and other marginalized youth gathered to creatively share and challenge their realities. The cypher fosters unity, equality, and support for its participants as they reflect, remind and call the community encircling them to action.
For over two decades, IMAN has cultivated unique artistic spaces that uphold the principles of the cypher through a philosophy of being Spiritually Rooted, Spatially Relevant, and Socially Conscious. Our Sacred Cypher Creatives (SCC) residency is a select group of artists from the recently launched IMAN Artist Roster, part of our ongoing support of innovative art-makers helping to build community and shape the future. Sacred Cypher Creatives will spend a year deepening their engagement with IMAN’s work at the intersection of culture, social justice and community organizing. We are proud to announce our 2018 SCC Cohort:
- AL-TAWAM – Khadijah and Iman Siferllah-Griffin | Performance: Dance | Minneapolis, MN
- KAYEM | Performance: Music, Recording Artist, Arts Education, Literary Arts | Chicago, IL
- KELLY IZDIHAR CROSBY | Visual Art: Painting, Multidisciplinary Arts | Atlanta, GA
- LIZA GARZA | Performance: Music, Poetry, Traditional/Folk Arts | Atlanta, GA
- PHENOM | Performance: Emcee, Arts Education, Literary Arts, Poetry | Chicago, IL
Each SCC artist will complete a creative engagement project in collaboration with IMAN Arts & Culture and at least one additional department: Organizing & Advocacy, Green ReEntry or the Health Center. They will receive an Artist-in-Community Residency at IMAN’s campuses in either Chicago or Atlanta, and a stipend to support their throughout the year. Sacred Cypher Creatives will also convene for three in-person gatherings, culminating with the IMAN Artist Retreat this fall.
IMAN is honored to support and collaborate with these inspiring artists invested in radically reimagining our world. We invite you to journey with the 2018 Sacred Cypher Creatives, and experience their creativity in action. The first featured residency will be Liza Garza’s “Story Cypher” during IMAN’s “Only Light, Only Love” event series commemorating of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her residency is highlighted by our signature CommUNITY Cafe on Saturday, April 7.