Meet Grant Recipients
A.Martinez is a poet, visual artist, mother, and community and arts organizer living in Chicago. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Writing Program and is a proud recipient of the 2019 3Arts Make a Wave Award. A.Martinez produces community and cultural events including events that center on and for mothers of color in the arts. In addition to her creative practice, A.Martinez works as an arts administrator.
A.Martinez will self-release a chapbook of poetry and drawings, Turn, in 2021-22. Her work explores identity, memory, spirituality, and the body.
Image: A.Martinez, 500 Chains, 2018, Mixed media on paper, 15" x 15"
Artist Photo: Chelsea Ross
Ariella Granados is an Interdisciplinary artist whose work explores telenovelas, childhood, and internet subculture across media. Drawing from personal memory, her multimedia videos depict familial trauma embedded through the creation of fictional characters that portray real lived experiences as a bicultural and disabled body.
Using makeup, found images, sound, and video performance, Granados manipulates language, truth, and personal memory to create mini-sodes that are dramatic, humorous, and sentimental. She manipulates her disabled body through makeup and garb to become characters that play with fiction and truth. Playing with ideas of truth and fiction similar to Latinx soap operas and advertisements, Granados creates a liminal space between fiction and truth that replay the bicultural liminal state. Granados' work is intertwined with the consumers inability to not fully be satisfied with the consumption of commodities in media advertisements etc.
Image: Image from Bodies In Progress series. I incorporate images of American television, where I am connecting these images to the direct inaccessibility that is being sold to the Mexican-American home disguised as a dream. This “dream” revealing itself through language, class, and objects. Using a still from the HSN channel, I place my body dressed up as two different characters interacting with one another, posed as saleswomen. The very language of the image are cis white women selling domestic objects with the assumption that their audience are domesticated women who are stuck in the home. Yet how does this change when the viewer is a mother watching this, without access to the language? -- still unable to access these objects. This desire that is created between the saleswomen and the viewer is where sentimentalism serves as an introduction to consumerism.
Cherrie Yu is a Chinese artist born in Xi'an in 1995. They currently live and make work in Chicago, IL. Their practice includes choreography, film, and performance. Their works have been presented at Emory University, Helena Anrather Gallery, ACRE Gallery, Trestle Gallery, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Chengdu Times Museum. They have been an artist in residence at ACRE, Monson Arts, Ellis-Beauregard Foundation, as well as Contemporary Calgary Museum.
Image: Cherrie Yu, film still from Lydia and Matthew (2019).
I was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico. I completed my undergrad degree in Sociology at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey. In 2014 I moved to Chicago, where I started working with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and developing my career as a community-based muralist. In 2019 I earned my Master's Degree in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Through my artwork, I seek to preserve collective memory, encode narratives from a first-hand perspective and politicize public space to raise consciousness.
Image: Cristian Roldan, Migration. Acrylic on canvas 48 x 60 x 1.5 in. 2020
The two plow oxen represent the feelings one experiences in the first years after immigrating.
darien R Wendell (ey, d) is a transdisciplinary domestic artist working in fabrics, food, crafts, and other home-building art forms. A Black shapeshifter and creative - ey navigates the intersections of cultural organizing, reproductive justice, and Black trans/queer struggles to thrive. d labors to make refuge, repair, rest, and release possible for Black people between and beyond our ever-present moments of suffering. The work is situated in a queer lens and politic to honor the vastness of our need and care. From this space, d honors erotic power and sexuality as essential tools in forging ways of living outside of, or fugitive to, systems of oppression - in particular white supremacy, ableism, fatphobia, transphobia, and captalism. The works can be read as experiments in sensuality, inspired by Harriet Jacobs’ “loophole of retreat”.
d’s practice has taken the form of immersive installation, participatory workshops, archive-building, performance, events curation, and care work thru ancestral healing modalities. You can find darien in community as a member with For the People’s Artist Collective, as a farming fellow with Fresher Together, and stewarding youth sexuality education with Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health.
Image: darien R Wendell, In My Mouth 2, 2020, Mud, pressed flowers, linocut stamps, and ink on canvas.
Image description: The second in the series of experimentations with pressed flowers and mud stenciling. The background is a linocut stamp of one mouth spitting into another. The mud stencil overlaps the stamp in a diagonal across the canvas. On top of the mud are the pressed flowers - Queen Anne’s Lace and pansies. The pansies are both a torn, color faded pressing of an actual flower and a linocut stamp in teal.
A lifetime resident of Chicago, Deborah Awwad found her calling as a street and portrait photographer about five years ago through local arts organizations intervening in homelessness. Awwad brings to her lens and framing an eye for capturing and sharing stories and perspectives that aren’t typically witnessed within the art world. She conceptualizes photography as a practice in communicating that these underrepresented ways of living matter. In addition to a lived experience of homelessness, Awwad lives with spinal stenosis, a condition that impacts her mobility but does not deter her from pursuing adventurous and difficult angles and shots. Both experiences inform Awwad’s subject matter and framing, and she is as interested in capturing portraits of those impacted by systemic injustice as she is in framing the bright textures and reflections of Chicago’s built environment. Editing is an important part of Awwad’s process, and she tirelessly experiments with the technologies at her disposal for expressing how people and their environments reflect on one another.
Image: Deborah Awwad, Convex Inversion (2021). Digital photography.
Elnaz Javani is an artist and educator who works between the media of textile, drawing and print, currently based in Chicago, IL. Her practice revolves around the fragmentation of identity and place, power dynamics and labor. Javani holds an M.F.A in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she was the recipient of the New Artist Society Merit Scholarship, and B.F.A from Tehran University of Art. Javani was awarded the Enrichment Grant, from the Art Institute of Chicago (2021), the Define American Art Fellowship Grant (2019), the Kala Art institute Fellowship award and residency grant (2019-2020) and the Hyde Park Art Center Flex Space Residency award (2019). Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally in the USA, Spain, Iran, France, Colombia, Turkey, UAE, Germany, Canada and Switzerland.
Image: Elnaz Javani, My Effigies (2020). Stuffed object made of white muslin fabric, hand sewn with black thread and covered the external layer with stories in Farsi & Azari calligraphy. Dimensions vary.
Hankyeol Song is a Korean-born Marxist-feminist Queer artist, filmmaker, and scholar based in Chicago, IL. She co-founded the Ana Cha collective in 2016, and currently serves as the founder and director of the han-heung 한흥恨興 media collective. Both collectives are concerned with building resistance through critical scholarship of histories of media and culture, consciousness-raising, and creative praxis. Song's work primarily takes shape in experimental film/video and hybrid documentary. She utilizes scholarship and creative forms to interrogate meanings, identities, and systems in relation to histories of gender, sexuality, class, and race.
Image: Still from SCUM (music video). Following a disruption in her daily routine, a woman discovers that her makeup paints the same shade as a piece of meat on a television ad and wreaks havoc in her pink apartment. The song references Valerie Solanas’ S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto.
Jade Wong is a Chicago-based artist and educator working primarily with drawing, video, performance, and photography. Their work explores personal, ancestral, and collective histories—specifically asian/-american, queer, and media histories. In placing themself in front of the camera, Wong uses self-reflexive elements of documentary fiction to examine and further complicate their positionality as trans, asian filmmaker and subject. They gravitate towards diaristic writing, humor, tactility and visual magic in their work. Their projects are malleable in form, their very existences concerned with the act of becoming an image, ︎an iteration, a gesture, ︎︎︎︎a memory. As a teaching artist, Wong encourages young people to experiment with digital forms, emphasizing healing, rest, play, and reflection. Along with fellow teaching artists Janani Nathan and Zachary Hutchinson, Wong co-facilitates Read Read Revolution!, a youth-centered discussion group dedicated to examining the critical relationships between media, race, gender, representation, equity, and community. Wong is a founding member of 恨興한흥 Han Heung Media Collective. They received their BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2018.
Image: Jade Wong, Still from aromatics of longing 爆香.
Image description: First person shot of a hand reaching out for a crying napa cabbage wrapped in cloth.
Janelle Ayana Miller is a grandchild of the Great Migration, a Midwesterner with Southern inflection. Her practice is rooted within familial and communal aesthetics, looking deeply into bridging self and time as an act of place-making while using modes of collage, found objects, film, food, and photography.
Image: Janelle Ayana Miller, Building Virtue, 2017-Present.
Artist photo credit: Jared Brown
Jennifer Teresa Villanueva is a Mexican-American photographer born and based in Chicago, Illinois. Her photographic work concentrates on the ways race, ethnicity, geography, citizenship, gender, and class contribute to American society and its understanding of itself. She currently documents the life of her immigrant grandmother’s journey of survival as she goes through hospitalizations and dialysis due to Chronic Kidney Disease. Villanueva also researches and documents the history and experience of her immigrant parents’ migration and labor in the United States. Her family’s life examines the sociological, historical, medical, political, and economic processes that have led through their migration and, as well as the varying ways in which race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship affect the immigrant lived experience. She is engrossed in how color, environmental portraiture, and still lives evokes a different perspective into the life of an immigrant family facing generational trauma and magnification of themselves. These photographs are carefully staged and candid as each gesture and composition symbolizes a narrative about culture, transnational identity, and belonging in the United States. Villanueva graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2020).
Image: Jennifer Teresa Villanueva,"Dos poderosas matriarcas / Two powerful matriarchs" (2021).
Jiayi Chen (born in Chongqing, China) is an artist currently based in Chicago. She works in hand-processed film, video installation, and photography. Her artworks derive from the experience of mentally and physically adapting to foreignness, the shifting idea of home and intimacy, and living relentlessly in translation. Using pop music, found text, and fragmented narration, she sculpts time into patient durational pieces.
Her works have been exhibited and screened internationally, including Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Mana Contemporary, Anthology Film Archives, ACUD MACHT NEU, and TANK Shanghai.
Image: Jiayi Chen, Four Dances for Three Couples, 2020. Still from film.
Jory Drew is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in Chicago, IL. Their work reckons with the social constructions of race, gender, and love and how they influence the economic, legal, and political conditions that affect black intimacy and liberation. They have exhibited locally and nationally and have participated in residencies at Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago, IL), ACRE (Steuben, WI/Chicago, IL.), Open Kitchen (Milwaukee, WI.), and Hot Box (Austin, TX.).
They are currently a co-lead artist for the Teen Creative Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and may also be recognized as a Co-founder of F4F, a domestic venue in Little Village, and a Co-organizer of Beauty Breaks, an intergenerational beauty and wellness workshop series for black people along the spectrum of femininity.
Image: Jory Drew, Untitled (Shadows), 2020. Dimensions 11 x 10 x 7 inches. Glazed Ceramic
Joshua Jackson is an independent documentary producer and cinematographer. He started his career working at PBS and ABC affiliates. Joshua organized live streamed events, managing video and audio delivery via the internet. He debuted his short film, From Prisoner to Professor, in 2017, which later was featured at the Black Harvest Film Festival, the Pan African Film Festival, and won Best Short Documentary at the American Filmatic Awards. He was the cinematographer for Chosen Foe Life, a short film of an inner-city youth conflicted by the neighborhood pressures and school influences, which aired on WTTW. His passion is filming and still shoots documentaries for other independent producers.
Image: Joshua Jackson, Celia Colón speaks to Cook County officials to reform the bail bond process.
I use the process of painting to examine relationships and break down distinctions between nature/technology, natural/artificial, material/immaterial, subject/object. My practice embraces what Stacy Alaimo calls tans-corporeality: "the time-space where human corporeality, in all its material fleshiness, is inseparable from nature.” In this way, the resulting images/objects emphasize the embodied, relational, affective interconnections that occur between human and non-human nature.
Materials are assembled, applied, removed and altered. I work with natural specimens such as mushrooms, moss, cocoa petals, and rosebuds, mixed with beeswax, liquid rubber and latex, oil paint and pigments. Working in a symbiotic partnership with the materials, the works are allowed to “emerge”spontaneously. The results are assemblages of natural elements whereby the biological processes of mutation, contamination, decay, generation, emergence and metamorphosis serve as modes of inquiry into the production of novel forms. The canvas becomes an arena for investigation [Rosenberg] and what accumulates on the surface acts as a record of an event, a moment, or what could be considered an act of nature [Cezanne*].
I always return to the relationship between painting and nature— a relationship that is dynamic, evolving and embedded in my process.
Image: Kris Casey, From so simple a Beginning (detail), 2019 Oil, acrylic, mica pigment, enamel, moss, and botanicals on canvas, 60" x 72"
Mercedes Cardenas lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. She received her BFA at American Academy of Art in 2017. She is currently enrolled in getting her MFA at the University of Chicago and will be graduating in Spring 2021. Her main focus is the representation of Mexican-American diaspora through personal memories with the use of oil paintings on canvas. She documents what she feels are important memories that symbolize Mexican-American Diaspora. Playing with time, and the ambiguous quality of memories, she creates her paintings with moments of confusion. Her work is an internal exploration of external experiences and she hopes to expand the conversation of diaspora and accessibility of it in the art world.
Her work has been shown at Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, IL; Studio Oh!, Chicago, IL: Gallery Cafe, Chicago, IL; Illiasca, Chicago, IL; Epic Art House, Chicago, IL.
Image: Mercedes Cardenas, Birthday Party (2021). Oil Painting on Canvas. Dimensions 5ft x 7ft.
Miao Wang was born and raised in China and moved to Chicago in 2011. She received her BA in Art History form The University of Illinois at Chicago in 2016. Her research and studio practice is steeped in questions about the politics of gender roles, parental relationships, abstraction, the stain, and the unconscious mark.
Image: Miao Wang, Her Secret (2020). Watercolor on Translucent YUPO. Dimensions 25 x 38 inches
Qais Assali is an interdisciplinary artist/designer born in Palestine in 1987 and raised in the United Arab Emirates before returning to Palestine in 2000. He is a Core Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Assali taught in visual communication at Al-Ummah University College, Jerusalem, and at An-Najah National University, Nablus. He was a 2018-19 Visiting Assistant Professor for the Critical Race Studies Program at Michigan State University. Assali holds four degrees in visual arts from Palestine and the US, a BFA in Graphic Design from An-Najah National University 2009, and a BA in Contemporary Visual Art from the International Academy of Art Palestine 2017. He simultaneously completed an MFA in Photography from Bard College, New York 2019, and an MA in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois 2018.
Image: Qais Assali, if you Like you can show my works in galleries. Inkjet print on architectural bond paper, acrylic on canvas, 17:32 minute video, archival material, ink on sketching paper. In Practice: Total Disbelief, SculptureCenter, New York, 2020.
Born in Brooklyn, Sasha Phyars-Burgess graduated from Bard College in 2010 with a bachelor’s in photography, and went on to earn an MFA from Cornell University. Phyars-Burgess was artist in residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock in 2015, and has exhibited her work at the CK Gallery in Berlin and at Shoot the Lobster in New York. She won a Diane Dammeyer Fellowship from Columbia College Chicago and a Capricious Photo Award from Capricious Publishing, in New York.
Image: Sasha Phyars-Burgess, BLESSED, AUSTIN, CHICAGO (2019). Photograhy
Shirien Damra is a freelance designer and illustrator based in Chicago, where she was born and raised. Growing up in a working-class Palestinian refugee family, Shirien recognized the impact of systemic racism early on. She went on to study sociology, receiving her bachelor's and master's degree in the field from DePaul University. For over 10 years, she has dedicated herself to community organizing and social justice advocacy work. Shirien uses art and creativity as a tool to uplift social justice movements and campaigns, to amplify marginalized groups, to promote community healing, and to envision a better world.
Image: Shirien Damra, Free Palestine (November 2020). Digital painting with Procreate, Apple Pencil and iPad. Dimensions 12 x 12 inches.
Sky Cubacub (They/Them) is a non-binary queer and disabled Filipinx human from Chicago, IL. They are the creator of Rebirth Garments, a line of wearables for trans, queer and disabled people of all sizes and ages, which started in summer 2014. Sky is the editor of the Radical Visibility Zine, a full color cut and paste style zine that celebrates disabled queer life, with an emphasis on joy. As a multidisciplinary artist, Sky is interested in fulfilling the needs for disabled queer life, with an emphasis on joy. They have had over 45 fashion performances and lectured at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Utah, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University. Rebirth Garments has been featured in Teen Vogue, Nylon, Playboy, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Vice, Wussy Mag, and the New York Times. Sky was named 2018 Chicagoan of the Year by the Chicago Tribune and is a 2019/2020 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist and a Disability Futures Fellow.
Image: Video bumper screenshot for one of Sky's Radical Fit with YOUmedia Chicago's youtube videos. a picture of Sky's "Senior Noteable" photo from the Northside College Prep yearbook as "Most Dramatically Changed" with the text under that says " Sky Cubacub and You" with the "You" edited in. Sky as an 18 year old wearing on one half of their body on the left side, an all pink outfit with a pink coach bag and holding up their cheerleading uniform to signify them as a freshman, which even had their long hair braid from before pinned to the side of their head. The right side of their body has their makeup that looks like a tattoo, fun earrings, and clothing they embellished including a pliers embroidered shirt and a blazer with added chainmaille and doodads. There are a bunch of colorful geometric shapes that signify "You" with a starburst over where your head would be that says "New Year, New You". The Radical Fit for YOUmedia Chicago logo is on the right along with the words “New Year, New You, Rebirth Yourself! with Sky Cubacub , 12.28.2020 at 4pm cst” and the Chicago Public Library logo on the bottom right.
SUNGJAE LEE (He/they) is a Seoul-born, Chicago-based artist who makes performance, installation, text, and video. He received his B.F.A. in Sculpture from Seoul National University in 2014, during which time he discovered his deep interest in immaterial and time-based mediums.
To further develop his practice as a performance artist, he pursued his M.F.A. in Performance Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated in 2019. Throughout his residing in the States, his practice has centered on the need for visibility and representation of queer Asians in a Western context. His work has been presented globally in South Korea, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, and the US.
Image: SUNGJAE LEE, Temporal Chest Hair (thinking of Valie Export), 2019-2020, Durational performance (until donated hair fully covers artist's chest). Photo: Ji Yang.
Sydnie Jimenez was born in Orlando, FL but spent most of her childhood in north Georgia from which she draws much inspiration. She recently graduated from SAIC (BFA 2020) focusing in ceramic sculpture and is a recipient of the Windgate Fellowship (2020). Much of her work centers around the representation of black/ brown youth and self-expression as a form of protest, self care, and power within community.
Image: Sydnie Jimenez, watch y(our) back (series of works), 2020, Ceramic, slip, glaze. 3" x 2"x 15" each
Headshot credit: Adeshola Makinde 2020
Tariyawn Knighten is a Chicago based artist, documentarian, educator, and self-published author whose work is informed by his experience of growing up in the K-town neighborhood (which name is given as its placement is between the streets of Pulaski road and Cicero avenue, the streets names all begin with the letter “K” traveling east to west) on the west side of Chicago. Knighten sees his work as part of the narrative tradition of the Black aesthetic, with particular attention to Black migrants and the Great Migration, specifically Black neighborhoods established on the west side of Chicago. In the spirit of Gordon Parks, Knighten’s contribution to the photographic history of Black Chicago is an intervention in that the everyday beauty of Black People on the west wide has not been sufficiently documented. Chicago is the genesis of Tariyawn Knighten’s work as a photo-documentarian, but he endeavors to expand his work to include other histories in the Great Migration, such as St. Louis, MO., Philadelphia, PA., and perhaps, Harlem, NY.
Image: Tariyawn Knighten, Foundation #38, patron saints (2020). Dimensions vary, archival inkjet print.
Tattianna Howard is a painter, arts instructor, community organizer and practicing muralist from Chicago’s west side. She collaborates with local Chicago arts organizations, galleries and individual artists producing live art, group exhibitions, and various arts programming. Her paintings explore her emotions of pain and evolution, reflecting herself in her sensually macabre, feminine imagery.
Image: Tattianna Howard, Black Trans Lives Matter (2020). Mural in Andersonville
Youree Kim (They/them) is a disability justice activist, abolitionist, and artist based in Chicago. As multiply disabled Asian immigrant, Youree’s works navigate the complicated realities of how disabilities are produced, perceived, and represented in face of critical sociopolitical issues. Since 2017, they started documenting local grass root organizing around disability justice through zine making, digital media, and writings. They are also a co-founder for project Alternatives to Calling the Police During Mental Health Crises, a grassroots project to address state violence against people with disabilities. Youree has Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and a master's degree in public policy and Human Rights at Adler University. They were a recipient of ADAPT Women of Year, National Council on Independent Living Youth Scholarship, Crossroads grant, and so forth. Their writings were published and shared at Truthout, AK Press, Riksha magazine, Spork!, and more.
Image: Youree Kim, Alternatives to Policing Based on Disability Justice, 2020. A printed zine with riso graph cover. Dimensions 5x8 inches with yellow cover on a grey plastic paper cutter. The cover is printed with deep blue ink depicting cloudy sky with text reading on the top, "we will get free, together."
The zine was part of a media project led and organized by the Abolition and Disability Justice Coalition in September 2020. It was printed and distributed via various local venues in Chicago including PO Box Collective, Build Coffee, and Women and Children's Bookstore. More information regarding the media project can be found here: https://abolitionanddisabilityjustice.com/
At the age of five, Yuge Zhou became a household name in China as the singer for a popular children’s TV series. Yuge came to the US a decade ago to earn a degree in computer science and subsequently moved into video art and installations. Motivated to transform herself into a hybrid of two cultures, Yuge’s work addresses connections, isolation and longing across natural and constructed urban spaces, as well as the distinctive characteristics of these spaces as sites of shared dreams. She creates immersive experiences through digital collaging and sculptural reliefs. Her recent projects explore metaphorically her personal history as an immigrant as well as bonds between her homeland and adopted country. Yuge has exhibited nationally and internationally in prominent art and public venues and is currently an artist at NEW INC, New Museum’s art and technology incubator. She received the 2021 Artist Fellowship Award in Media Arts from the Illinois Arts Council and Honorary Mention in the 2020 Prix Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. Her work has been featured in various publications such as the New York Magazine, HYPEBEAST, and The Atlantic Monthly. Yuge holds a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as a Master of Science from Syracuse University.
Image: Yuge Zhou, Underground Circuit (installation view)
Underground Circuit is a video collage that transforms the mass transit of New York City subway into an urban labyrinth. Installed at the Ars Electronica 2020 in Linz, Austria, it received an Honorary Mention prize.
zakkiyyah najeeabah dumas-o'neal’s work is most often initiated by personal and social histories related to family, queer identities, self interiority, and belonging. Najeebah’s multidisciplinary practice borrows from the visual traditions of portraiture, candid photography, video assemblage, and collage. She seeks to reinforce a different kind of gaze (and gazing) that's activated through empathy, desire, intimacy, love, and longing. Within her projects there's an overlying theme of trying to make sense of, and complicating what and who she belongs to across time, location, and space.
Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions and she has had solo exhibitions at ADDS DONNA, Mana Contemporary, and South Bend Museum of Art. She has also curated exhibitions at Chicago Art Department, Blanc Gallery and Arts + Public Life's Washington Park Arts Incubator. She is currently a 2021 Artist-in-Residence at UChicago Arts, Art and Public Life.
Image credit: Felton Kizer
Artwork Image: zakkiyyah najeeabah dumas-o'neal, Hey, I've Been Concerned (2019-2020). Charcoal, graphite, and ink on cotton rag paper. Dimensions 30in x 50 inches.
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