A Blade of Grass is thrilled to announce the recipients of the Artist Files grants for individual artists: Nobutaka Aozaki, Kambui Olujimi and Housing Is A Human Right. Artist Files was initiated as a one-time grant cycle focused on generating and harnessing public discourse as a way to define socially engaged art and the selection criteria. The recipients were selected from a group of twenty finalists, and will each receive an unrestricted grant of $10,000. These grantees, including finalists Daniel Bejar, Tracy Candido, Nicky Enright, Sean Fader, Alicia Grullon, Heather Hart, Kendal Henry, Nate Hill, LuLu LoLo, Matthew Morrocco, Leon Reid IV, Shane Aslan Selzer, Sin Kabeza Productions, Bayeté Ross Smith & Will Sylvester, Thomas Allen Harris, Ed Woodham, Risë Wilson, have all been officially named A Blade of Grass Artist Fellows for 2013. They will each receive an honorarium and institutional support and professional development training from A Blade of Grass targeted to their specific needs as socially engaged artists, as well as be featured in a publication that details the grant process and the range of the artists’ work.
After a six-month long process, Nobutaka Aozaki, Kambui Olujimi and Housing Is a Human Right were selected by A Blade of Grass’ Advisory Committee for their exemplary commitment to using art as an agent for creating social change in their communities. By creating artwork in active collaboration with their audiences, harnessing the creativity of others rather than focusing on self-expression, and by using art as a way to enact social change, these artists are challenging the role of the artist in society and making work that is actively engaging people in their everyday lives.
A Blade of Grass hired curatorial fellow Kalia Brooks to make an initial selection of twenty artists who are engaging with and working innovatively in their communities. After a series of videotaped site visits with these artists, Brooks worked closely with A Blade of Grass to create and present online dossiers for each artist that consist of images, descriptions of the artists’ work, links to websites and excerpts of the artists’ own words. Throughout the summer and fall of 2012, these web-based materials generated an online discussion with the prospective grantees and the general public, intended to define the award selection criteria and shape the format of a broader fellowship program. The final selection criteria for the recipients was developed by Executive Director Deborah Fisher and Curatorial Fellow Kalia Brooks, and reflected the public discourse about socially engaged art that was generated through this Artist Files website. A Blade of Grass’ Advisory Committee was then invited to review these criteria, along with the Artist Files-generated web materials and artists’ websites to make their final selections.
An open discourse with the participating artists was particularly critical to assessing how A Blade of Grass could be most relevant to their work, which differs from painting, sculpture and other traditional forms of contemporary visual art. Based on this feedback, A Blade of Grass has established new forums for the 2013 Fellows to receive promotional assistance, build connections and attain peer and administrative support, and critical feedback through workshops, programs and events.
Please join us in congratulating the three grantee artists, as well as welcoming the other A Blade of Grass Artist Fellows into the next stage of this exciting process!