Introducing | 2020 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellows, Finalists, and Panelists

Introducing | 2020 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellows, Finalists, and Panelists
(detail) nova Milne (Digital/Electronic Arts '20); "Skin Without Biography 2011/2019;" 2019; video still from a 3-screen video sculpture with 6 channel sound, archived 3K home movie, 4k footage, animation and rotoscopy, media players, cords, powder-coated steel, artist’s custom hand-tufted wool carpet, 2 min seamless loop

NYFA has awarded $588,000 to 85 New York State artists working in Craft/Sculpture, Digital/Electronic Arts, Nonfiction Literature, Poetry, and Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts.

The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) has announced the 2020 recipients and finalists of the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship program, which it has administered for the past 35 years with leadership support from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). For the 2020 Fellowship year, the organization has awarded a total of $588,000 to 85 artists (including one collaboration) whose ages range from 28-73 years throughout New York State in the following disciplines: Craft/Sculpture, Digital/Electronic Arts, Nonfiction Literature, Poetry, and Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts. Fifteen finalists, who do not receive a cash award, but benefit from a range of other NYFA services, were also announced. A complete list of the Fellows and Finalists follows. Since it was launched in 1985, the program has awarded over $32.5 million to more than 5,000 artists.

The NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship program makes unrestricted cash grants of $7,000 to artists working in 15 disciplines, awarding Fellowships to five disciplines per year on a triennial basis. The program is highly competitive and this year’s recipients and finalists were selected by discipline-specific peer panels from an applicant pool of 3,536 artists. 

Each year, the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship offers a unique snapshot of contemporary arts across New York State. From almost 4,000 applications in five disciplines, there were key themes that emerged. Shining a light on the diverse cultural fabric that makes up the state were explorations of race and ethnicity, immigration, cultural displacement, and what it means to be a first-generation American as well as work that examines current political issues such as climate change, LGBTQIA+ rights, and racial and gender equality from highly personal perspectives. 

“This year is an especially meaningful one in the long history of this program, as unrestricted artist grants are needed now more than ever,” said Michael L. Royce, Executive Director of NYFA. “We are thrilled to partner with NYSCA to recognize artists of all disciplines across New York State with NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships; to be selected by a peer jury is an incredible honor and hopefully a validating one no matter the artist’s career stage,” he added.

“The NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship recognizes that artists of all disciplines, backgrounds, ages, and career stages are at the heart of our state’s powerful creative ecosystem and make vital contributions to the diversity of expression in New York,” said Mara Manus, Executive Director of NYSCA. “As our field faces innumerable challenges, we are proud to continue our partnership with NYFA to provide critical support to artists whose work helps build healthy communities in all regions of the state.”

Image: This black and white collage is of a female portrait that is drawn with an ink pen. The female has her arm raised so that her hands meet her forehead. At the forefront are papaya and various plants. Behind the portrait is more plants that vary from solid and fully realized to transparent and less detailed. Behind this forest of sorts is another figure, male, that looking off into the distance to the right. His face is partially covered with a transparent leaf. on the other side of him is a futuristic building shooting beams of black lights. There is also a spaceship hovering above the scene.
(detail) Komikka Patton (Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts ’20); “Gatekeepers 4 ‘Seeds’;” 2020; india ink, watercolor paper, Bristol, and acetate mounted on wood; Photo Credit: Cristina Ossers

Many of the 2020 Fellows have underscored the importance of receiving the award in a tumultuous year, finding encouragement from their peers and the $7,000 instrumental to forging ahead in their careers.

Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, a Craft/Sculpture Fellow from Stone Ridge, NY, says that the award encourages her to take more risks in her work and to push beyond familiar comforts in the studio. “The organization’s significant affirmation of my work’s creative value and contribution to the field is especially meaningful during this pandemic. Through stress, sorrow, and loss, I have struggled to be artistically creative in isolation. But the NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship has shored up my confidence, inspiring me to embrace new directions with renewed spirit.”

For Ge Gao, a Nonfiction Literature Fellow from Brooklyn, NY, the Fellowship “gives me something that’s exactly what I need right now in life and in my writing practice: some financial support, some recognition, and some encouragement during this noisy, disturbing, lonely time when our critical thinking and reflective writing should be valued more than ever.”

Yesenia Montilla, a Poetry Fellow from New York, NY, came to poetry later in life and says that receiving the fellowship is one of the highlights of her life thus far. “This fellowship will provide me with a freedom that I didn’t think possible, it will allow for the type of slow down and deliberate attention that is hard to do when juggling so many financial responsibilities alongside all the uncertainty that 2020 has cemented. More than that, I think knowing that my work is hitting some sweet spots and that maybe in some distant place or just down the road, someone is benefiting from my words in some way, is also a great reward.”

Image: This composite image displays the vision of MacMurtrie’s ongoing Border Crossers project: Six inflatable robotic sculptures rise up to several stories high and extend across the U.S.-Mexico border. The Border Crossers are depicted in different stages of activation: deflated, activated, and fully deployed over the border fence.
Chico MacMurtrie (Craft/Sculpture ’20); “Border Crossers;” 2015 – ongoing; ensemble of inflatable, robotic sculptures site specific; (c) Chico MacMurtrie/ARW; Photo Credit: Amorphic Robot Works

Fellowship Recipients, Finalists, and Panelists by Discipline and County of Residence:

Craft/Sculpture Fellows

Fanny Allié (Kings)
Patricia Ayres (New York)
Julia Bland (Kings)
Vivian Chiu (New York)
Katie Coughlin (Kings)
Jes Fan (Kings)
Marilyn J Friedman (New York)
Ignacio Gonzalez-Lang (New York)
Zac Hacmon (New York)
Benjamin Heller (Kings)
Heidi Lau (New York)
Meg Lipke (Columbia)
Chico MacMurtrie (Kings)
Matthew Mazzotta (St. Lawrence)
Myra Mimlitsch-Gray (Ulster)
John Monti (Kings)
Emily Oliveira (Kings)
Erin M. Riley (Kings)
David B. Smith (Kings)
Elif Uras (New York)
Alison Elizabeth Taylor (Kings)
Craft/Sculpture Finalists      

David Henderson (Kings)
Asif Mian (Queens)
Rowan Renee (Kings)

Craft/Sculpture Panelists    

Annalisa Barron (Monroe)
Sharif Bey (Onondaga)
Esperanza Cortés (New York)
Jim Osman (Kings)
Padma Rajendran (Greene)

Digital/Electronic Arts Fellows

Sean Capone (Kings)
Luba Drozd (Kings)
Jonathan Ehrenberg (New York)
Olalekan Jeyifous (Kings)
Jess Johnson (New York)
Carl Lee (Erie)
Warren Lehrer (Queens)
Dana Levy (New York)
Ani Liu (Queens)
Umber Majeed (Kings)***
Michael Mandiberg (Kings)
nova Milne (Kings)*
Kameron Neal (Kings)

Digital/Electronic Arts Finalists

Bang Geul Han (Kings)
Dev Harlan (New York)
DOTDOT (Kate Stevenson and Christopher White)* (New York)

Digital/Electronic Arts Panelists

Andrew Demirjian (New York)
Ella Gant (Oneida)
Qin Han (Suffolk)
Anna Scime (Erie)
Ziyang Wu (Kings)

Nonfiction Literature Fellows

Ariel Aberg-Riger (Erie)
Patrick Arden (New York)
Thomas A. Bass (Oneida)
Alvin Eng (New York)
Spencer Everett (New York)
Ge Gao (New York)
Shahnaz Habib (Kings)
Madhu H. Kaza (Kings)
Richard Scott Larson (Kings)
Stacy Parker Le Melle (New York)
Heather Dune Macadam (Suffolk)
Christola Phoenix (New York)
Emily Raboteau (New York)
Mosi Secret (Kings)
Melissa Valentine (Kings)

Nonfiction Literature Finalists

Suzanne Cope (Kings)
Pardiss Kebriaei (Manhattan)
Kristen Radtke (Brooklyn)

Nonfiction Literature Panelists

Joseph Bruchac (Saratoga)
Caitlin Cass (Erie)
Eve Dunbar (Dutchess)
Mychal Denzel Smith (Kings)
Nadia Owusu (Kings)

Poetry Fellows

Albert Abonado (Monroe)
Shayok Misha Chowdhury (Kings)
Ama Codjoe (Bronx)**
t’ai freedom ford (Kings)
Ellen Hagan (New York)
Marwa Helal (Kings)
Omotara James (Queens)
Joseph O. Legaspi (Queens)
Ricardo Alberto Maldonado (Kings)
Shane McCrae (New York)
Yesenia Montilla (New York)
Nicole Sealey (Kings)
John Murillo (Kings)
Cindy Tran (Queens)
Jenny Mengyu Xie (New York)

Poetry Finalists

Pamela Hart (Westchester)
Sahar Muradi (New York)
Christina Olivares (Bronx)

Poetry Panelists

Grisel Y. Acosta (Bronx)
Gbenga Adesina (Madison)
Jacquline Jones LaMon (Nassau)
Alison Meyers (Monroe)
Kendra Sullivan (Kings)

Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts Fellows

Olaronke Akinmowo (Kings)
Miguel A. Aragón (Richmond)**
Osi Audu (Ulster)
Melanie Baker (Dutchess)
Geoffrey Chadsey (Kings)
Sue Collier (New York)
Kevin Frances (New York)
Shanti Grumbine (Ulster)
Frederick Hayes (Kings)
Darina Karpov (Kings)
Selena Kimball (Kings)
Derek Lerner (New York)
Carlos Llobet-Montealegre (Erie)
Matthew Northridge (Orange)
Norm Paris (Kings)
Joseph Radoccia (Dutchess)
Julia Randall (New York)
David Sandlin (New York)
Lena Schmid (Kings)
Kyung Eun You (Queens)

Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts Finalists

Lori Nelson Field (New York)
Komikka Patton Martian (Kings)
Deborah Wasserman (Queens)

Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts Panelists

Sun Young Kang (Erie)
Kakyoung Lee (Kings)
Justin Sanz (Kings)
Charlotte Schulz (Westchester)
Charles Wilkin (Sullivan)

**DCLA Fellow
***Deutsche Bank Fellow

Funding Support

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships are administered with leadership support from New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Major funding is also provided by the New York State Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA). Additional funding is provided by Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.

Find out more about the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Program, a $7,000 unrestricted cash grant awarded to individual artists living and working in the state of New York. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more news and events from NYFA. To receive more artist news updates, sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter, NYFA News.

Amy Aronoff
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