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Visual artists invited to apply for $25,000 grants
By Chris Barnett / August 3, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...
Rhode Island visual artists who dream of spending a year working on their craft have until Aug. 18 to apply for $25,000 fellowships from the Rhode Island Foundation.

Established in 2003, the Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund makes up to three grants a year, rotating among composers, writers and visual artists on a three-year cycle. The fellowships are considered to be among the largest no-strings-attached awards available to artists in the United States.

The awards are intended to free painters, filmmakers, sculptors and other visual artists to concentrate time on the creative process, focus on personal or professional development, expand their body of work and explore new directions. Over the years, MacColl Johnson has awarded 33 fellowships totaling $825,000.

“These fellowships give local artists the resources to spend more time making art rather than making ends meet. That honors the significance that our donors placed on the importance of practicing artists present in the community,” said Daniel Kertzner, the Foundation’s senior philanthropic advisor for funding partnerships.

Previous recipients of visual art fellowships include Lynne Harlow, whose work reflects her interest in merging sound and dance, and Daniel Sousa, a Rhode Island School of Design professor whose animated film “Feral” was nominated for a 2014 Academy Award.

“The fellowship has had a huge impact on my career as an artist. With ambitious projects like animated films, it's important to have long stretches of uninterrupted time in order to benefit from the creative momentum of the process. The fellowship has given me that, as well as the confidence to take more risks and dive deeper into developing each scene,” said Sousa.

Applicants must have been legal residents of Rhode Island for at least 12 months prior to the Aug. 18 deadline. High school students, college and graduate students who are enrolled in a degree-granting program and artists who have advanced levels of career achievement are not eligible.

Applicants will be judged on the quality of the work samples, artistic development and the creative contribution to the visual arts, as well as the potential of the fellowship to advance the career of emerging-to-mid-career artists. Applications will be accepted from visual artists creating new original work in any genre.

Although the Fellowships are unrestricted, recipients are expected to devote concentrated time to their art during the term of the fellowship and to engage in activities that further their artistic growth. Examples include creating new work, training in technologies or techniques, purchasing equipment or materials, travel, research and developing artistic endeavors.

The recipients will be selected by a panel of four out-of-state jurors who are recognized practicing artists and arts professionals. The panel will also name up to three finalists, who will be awarded the opportunity to participate in a residency at Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency.

Rhode Islanders Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson were both dedicated to the arts all their lives. Mrs. Johnson, who died in 1990, earned a degree in creative writing from Roger Williams College when she was 70. Mr. Johnson invented a new process for mixing metals in jewelry-making and then retired to become a fulltime painter. Before he died in 1999, Johnson began discussions with the Foundation that led to the creation of the fellowships.

The fellowships are partially underwritten by the Madeline B. Standish Fund, created in 2010 to support the work of writers and artists. The Ox-Bow residencies are supported by the Kathryn Johnson Fund.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2015, the Foundation awarded $41.5 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.
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