Mellon Foundation and Ford Foundation Announce Inaugural Cohort of Latinx Artist Fellows

The US Latinx Art Forum, with support from the Mellon and Ford Foundations, to Offer 75 Latinx Visual Artists Unrestricted Awards of $50,000 Over Five Years

(NEW YORK, NY - July 12, 2021) The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation today announced the inaugural cohort of the newly established Latinx Artist Fellowship—a multiyear initiative administered by the US Latinx Art Forum (USLAF) in collaboration with the New York Foundation for the Arts. The Andrew W. Mellon and Ford Foundations have committed a combined $5 million  to the initiative, which will provide $50,000 in unrestricted funds each to 15 Latinx visual artists every year, over the next five years. Additional funds will support fellowship administration and capacity building at USLAF. This first-of-its-kind fellowship recognizes the most compelling Latinx visual artists working in the United States today, and aims to address a systemic lack of support, visibility, and patronage of Latinx visual artists—individuals of Latin American or Caribbean descent, born or living in the United States.

The Fellowship is part of the Latinx Art Visibility Initiative, led by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation. This three-part initiative begins with the Latinx Artist Fellowship to support artists; later phases will include support for museums committed to collecting and studying Latinx art; and partnerships in academia to support professors and students committed to studying Latinx art and artists.

The 2021 Latinx Fellows are

Elia Alba
[she, her]
Multidisciplinary Artist
Lives and works in New York

Celia Álvarez Muñoz 
[she, her]
Artist and Activist
Lives and works in Arlington, TX

Carolina Caycedo
[she, her]
Multidisciplinary Artist
Lives and works in Los Angeles

Adriana Corral
[she, her]
Multidisciplinary Artist
Lives and works in Houston

rafa esparza
[he, him, his, el]
Multidisciplinary Artist
Lives and works in Los Angeles

Christina Fernández
[she, her]
Photographer and Educator
Lives and works in Los Angeles

Coco Fusco
[she, her]
Interdisciplinary Artist and Writer
Lives and works in New York

Yolanda López
[she, her]
Visual Artist
Lives and works in San Francisco

Miguel Luciano
[he, him]
Multimedia Artist
Lives and works in New York

Guadalupe Maravilla
[he, him]
Transdisciplinary Visual Artist, Choreographer, and Healer
Lives and works in New York

Carlos Martiel
[he, him]
Performance Artist
Lives and works in New York and Havana

Michael Menchaca
[they, them]
Multidisciplinary Artist
Lives and works in San Antonio

Delilah Montoya
[she, her]
Printmaker and Photographer
Lives and works in Houston

Vick Quezada
[they, them]
Interdisciplinary Artist
Lives and works in Northampton, MA

Juan Sánchez
[he, him]
Visual Artist
Lives and works in New York

Fellows were selected by a jury of art historians, scholars, and curators at partner organizations: Rita Gonzalez (Terri and Michael Smooke Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art, LACMA), Marcela Guerrero (Jennifer Rubio Associate Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York), Cesáreo Moreno (Visual Arts Director and Chief Curator, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago), Rodrigo Moura (Chief Curator, El Museo del Barrio, New York), Sylvia Orozco (Cofounder and Executive Director, Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin), Mari Carmen Ramirez (Wortham Curator of Latin American Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), and Yasmin Ramirez (Art Historian, Scholar, and Independent Curator). The jurors evaluated more than 200 nominees recommended by invited external nominators with expertise in Latinx art.

The inaugural Fellowship class was chosen to reflect the diversity that exists within the Latinx community. The cohort highlights the practices of queer and gender nonconforming artists, as well as those from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, ranging from Chicanx and Afro-Latinx to mestizo and Indigenous. Deliberately intergenerational, it is equally divided between emerging, midcareer, and established artists.

“Since USLAF’s founding in 2015, we have been advocating for the work of Latinx visual artists through data collection, equity and inclusion initiatives, microgrants, and community building,” said Adriana Zavala, PhD, director, US Latinx Art Forum. “USLAF is honored to collaborate with Ford and Mellon to continue our work of uplifting Latinx visual artists, especially since their long historical contributions to the American experience have been largely ignored and made invisible within the art world and academic ecosystems.”

“The impact and influence of artists of Latin American and Caribbean descent deeply imbue the fabric of this country, yet their contributions have been underfunded and often unrecognized in the collections and texts that lift up our collective history and culture,” said Elizabeth Alexander, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “We are thrilled to fund the Latinx Artist Fellowship to champion Latinx artists as they continue their extraordinary work.”

“It is a privilege to support this talented, creative group of artists who have made an indelible impact on the American art canon,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “We are proud to collaborate with the Mellon Foundation to shine a light on their work and hope this inspires further investment in Latinx creatives in the years to come.”

Despite a centuries-long history of contributions to American art, Latinx artists have been consistently marginalized within American art history. Though Latinxs account for nearly 20 percent of the total US population and represent the largest minority-majority in many regions across the country, Latinx causes and organizations traditionally receive less than 2 percent of philanthropic funding while annual funding for Latinx arts and culture has declined 35 percent annually since 2013, dropping from $39 million to $13 million. 

The Fellowship, and the greater Latinx Art Visibility Initiative, is designed to support individual artists, historians, museums, and academia focusing on Latinx art and artists. At its heart, this Fellowship is a long overdue opportunity to lift up Latinx artists—to provide them with necessary financial support, expand and secure their place within art history, and encourage the growth of patronage.

For more information on the Latinx Artist Fellowship, visit mellon.org/latinx-artist-fellowship/.

About US Latinx Art Forum
Since 2015, the US Latinx Art Forum (USLAF) has supported the creation of a more equitable art world by championing artists and arts professionals dedicated to Latinx art through research, studio practice, pedagogy, and writing. USLAF generates and supports initiatives that benefit an intergenerational network of more than 450 members and advances the vitality of Latinx art within academia, art institutions, and collections. Past initiatives have included data collection to track the growth of Latinx art history in academia, which in turn fueled advocacy efforts for greater representation of Latinx art; a closed-door convening with stakeholders to understand the urgent issues facing Latinx artists and cultural workers; and the Mazorca Initiative, a micro-grant program launched in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing threats to justice caused by systemic racism and xenophobia. 

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.

About the Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
 

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