Photograph by Josh Cogan

Photograph by Josh Cogan

HOLLY BASS is a multidisciplinary performance and visual artist, writer and director. Her work has been presented at spaces such as the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Museums, the Seattle Art Museum, Art Basel Miami Beach (Project Miami Fair) and the South African State Theatre. Her visual art work spans photography, installation, video and performance and can be found in the collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the DC Art Bank, as well as private collections.

A Cave Canem fellow, she has published poems in numerous journals and anthologies. She studied modern dance (under Viola Farber) and creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College before earning her Master’s from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. As an arts journalist early in her career, she was the first to put the term “hip hop theater” into print in American Theatre magazine.

She has received numerous grants from the DC Arts Commission and is a 2019 Red Bull Detroit artist-in-residence and a 2019 Dance/USA Artist Fellow. A gifted and dedicated teaching artist, for four years she directed a year-round creative writing and performance program for adjudicated youth in DC’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services as well as facilitating workshops nationally and internationally. She is currently the national director for Turnaround Arts at the Kennedy Center, a program which uses the arts strategically to transform schools facing severe inequities.

download a pdf of Holly's CV


Masters of Science, Journalism,
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, NY, NY
Specialization: Long-form (magazine) print journalism

Bachelor of Arts,
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York
Concentrations: Creative Writing, Social Sciences, Contemporary Dance



American Stories @ NGA, community-engaged performance,  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC - March 2018

The Movement, dance theater performance about human trafficking, Strong in the Broken Places, Dance Place, Washington, DC - October  2017

Diamonds, Rings and Courts: Sport Is More Than a Game, group exhibition, St. John’s University Art Gallery, Queens, NY - September 2017

Spiral/Recoil, group exhibition, curated by Kayleigh Bryant Greenwell, Delaware Contemporary Museum, Wilmington, DE - August 2017

March Madness, group exhibition, curated by Hank Willis Thomas and Adam Shopkorn, Fort Gansevoort, New York City - March 2017

It Takes A Nation, group exhibition, Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC - September 2016

RACE: Talc & Ash, ensemble performance funded by Dance USA/Doris Duke Charitable Fund, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, DC -  July 2016                                          

Funk Parade: Birth of A City, a public art activation featuring Bass’ 6-foot disco ball and a team of roller skaters from the DC region, Washington, DC  - May 2016

Mixed Bag, group exhibition, curated by G.A. Gardner, Box Out, Paris, France - April 2016

Root Work, solo exhibition, curated by Jarvis DuBois, BlackRock Art Center, Germantown, MD - May 2016

Looking Back/Looking Forward: 15 Years of Millennium Arts Salon, group exhibition, Brentwood Arts Exchange, Brentwood, MD - November 2015

Implicit Bias, group exhibition, Joan Hisaoka Gallery, Washington DC - November 2015

Flock 01, commissioned performance in conjunction with the Divine Comedy exhibition, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC - May 2015 

Black Space (installation and performances), Martin Luther King Memorial Library, Washington DC - January 2015

Prizm Art Fair 2014, Miami Center for Architecture and Design, Art Basel Miami - December 2014

Fete, Martha Collective, Arts on Main, Johannesburg, South Africa - December 2014

Black Space (installation and performances), (e)merge art fair, Washington DC, Juried by  Ai Wei-Wei, Mika Yoshitake and Jeffreen M. Hayes           - October 2014

Reprise: 40 to the Fore, group show, Arlington Arts Center, Arlington, VA - July 2014

Afrikadaa is The Body: A Live Editorial, group show, David Roberts Art Foundation, London, England - July 2014

Select 2014, group show, Washington Project for the Arts, Artisphere, Arlington, VA - February 2014

Revival, (e)merge art fair, Washington DC. Juried by Molly Donovan, Eric Shiner, Shinique Smith - October 2013

More than Documentation: Photography and Performance, moderated by Deborah Willis and Karen Finley, in conjunction with Radical Presence exhibition, New York University, New York, NY - September 2013

Sweet Science, solo performance, State Theatre Women’s Festival, Pretoria, South Africa - August 2013

Crunk Lessons (after Adrian Piper), Supernova International Performance Art Festival, Arlington, VA - June 2013                  

Spotless, duo show, Hamiltonian Gallery, Washington, DC - June 2013

Hair Apparent, group show, Athenaeum Gallery, Alexandria, VA - June 2013

Hard Work/Clean, solo performance, Lavoir Moderne Parisien, Paris, France - May 2013               

Pay Purview, solo performance, Right.About.Now Festival, Amsterdam, Holland - May 2013

Performance Aftermath, video series, Artisphere, Arlington, VA - April 2013

Monument, commissioned performance, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art - March 2013

Hard Work/Clean, solo performance, MACAO centro per le arti, la cultura e la ricerca, Milan, Italy - January 2013

Pay Purview, solo performance, Project Miami Art Fair, Art Basel Miami - December 2012

Pay Purview, solo performance, Seattle Art Museum in conjunction with Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Seattle, WA - October 2012

Come Clean, performance, (e)merge art fair, Washington DC - October 2012

Campaign Re/Form, group show, Greater Reston Arts Center, Reston, VA - October 2012     

Dance1, community performance for Song 1, guerilla performance at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC - May 2012  

Moneymaker, seven-hour solo performance, Corcoran Gallery of Art, 30 Americans by special invitation of Mera Rubell, Washington, DC - February 2012

She Got Game, group show, Arlington Arts Center, Arlington, VA - January 2012

Moneymaker, audio installation and five-hour solo performance, (e)merge art fair, Washington DC - October 2011

African Futures: DC (commission), Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC - March 2010

Cream, Guest curator, Mera Rubell, Washington Project for the Arts, Katzen Center, Washington, DC - January 2010

Give and Take/Da y Toma, group show, Galeria Garash, Mexico City, MX - August 2009



Campello, F. Lennox (ed.), 100 Artists of Washington, D.C., Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2011.

Willis, Deborah (ed.), Venus 2010: They Called Her “Hottentot,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Temple University Press, 2010.

Derricotte, Toi and Eady, Cornelius (eds.), Gathering Ground, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006.

Labaton, Vivien and Martin, Dawn Lundy (eds.), The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism, New York: Anchor Books, 2004.



City of Washington, DC Art Bank

Corcoran Gallery of Art

Private collections



Dance USA, Engaging Dance Audiences, 2015-2016

DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities: Artist Fellowships 1996, 1999, 2003, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015;

Sister Cities 2013, 2014, 2015; Community Arts grant 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014; City Arts, 2008, 2009; HHCAI (Hip Hop) grant 2007, 2008, 2010

Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, writing residency, July 2011

Future Aesthetics Grant, Ford Foundation/Hip Hop Theater Festival, 2008

Atlantic Center for the Arts, residency with John Jasperse, Nov. 2006

National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP) fellowship at Columbia University, 2000-2001

Cave Canem Summer Program Fellowship, 1996-1998

Provincetown Fine Arts Work Program, summer fellowship/scholarship, 1995



Program Director, emBOSSed Arts@YSC, 2014-present
Design curriculum and lead a staff of four teaching artists in this year-round program which provides biweekly creative writing and performance workshops to incarcerated and detained teens at the Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention facility under DC’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

Freelance Curator, 1998-present
Curate performance series and visual arts exhibitions such as Take It to the Bridge at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (2012-2013), Campaign Re/Form exhibiton at Greater Reston Arts Center (2012), Space Invaders at Dissident Display Gallery (2008), Capital Fringe (2006), NYC Hip Hop Theater Festival (2001-2003), JazzSpeaks at the Kennedy Center, Cave Canem @ the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Teaching Artist, 1995-present
Offer workshops in writing, performance, movement and theater to diverse communities, from children to adults, novices to professionals. Taught poetry in public schools, battered women’s shelters and community centers with WritersCorps (1995-96). Taught creative writing and magazine journalism at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, (1997-99). Taught dance and dance criticism at University of DC.     

download a pdf of Holly's CV