Four Oregon Artists Receive $100K Each to Advance Their Careers While Addressing the State’s Opportunity Gap
Oregon Community Foundation and Oregon Humanities announced the awards from the Fred W. Fields Fund, representing nearly half million dollars to support artists
Oregon Community Foundation and Oregon Humanities announced recipients of the inaugural Fields Artist Fellowship today, a program designed to support emerging to mid-career Oregon-based artists. Each fellow will receive $100,000 to both advance their artistic practice and explore the state’s “opportunity gap,” reflected in widening disparities in life outcomes for Oregon children born into poverty and children of color.
Nearly half of all children born in Oregon are born into low-income families, and these children are less and less likely to reach the middle class. By providing promising Oregon artists with these fellowships, Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) and Oregon Humanities (OH) hope to inspire artists to respond meaningfully to a growing social problem in ways that connect people across the state.
“Throughout history, artists have always responded to the challenges of their time,” said OCF President and CEO Max Williams. “By giving freedom and time to these fellowship winners, we hope to engage them in helping Oregonians understand the impact of the opportunity gap on families and communities, inspiring people to help solve it.”
Oregon Community Foundation is dedicated to improving life in Oregon and sees arts and culture as a valuable and necessary tool for that mission. Oregon Humanities is committed to bringing Oregonians together across difference and to building the capacity of Oregonians to share and hear perspectives other than their own. OCF and OH believe that the Fields Artist Fellowship program will collaboratively advance both missions in a meaningful way.
Fields Artist Fellows were selected from a pool of more than 150 applicants representing artists of all media, including writers, filmmakers, visuals artists, multimedia artists, cultural heritage artists, musicians, and performing artists. During their fellowships, artists will advance their artistic work, explore and respond to the opportunity gap within regional communities, participate in yearly gatherings, and document their experiences and work along the way. Each of the four fellows will receive $100,000 each over a two-year period.
“Day in and day out, artists improve the lives of Oregonians,” said Oregon Humanities communications associate and Fields Artist Fellowship coordinator Maya Muñoz-Tobón. “They present us with ideas that challenge and inspire us and remind us how we are connected. Yet far too many artists do not have enough time and space to fully explore meaningful ideas and experiences through their art. Now, a talented group of artists have the opportunity to dedicate themselves to art towards a more equitable Oregon.”
The four Fields Artist Fellows below were selected from a list of twelve finalists.
Fellow Crystal Atkins, Lincoln City, Musician — $100,000
A single mother and artist who believes musical light shines the brightest in the darkest places of humanity, Crystal will use her fellowship to build the Lincoln City Music Festival, Lincoln City Children’s Choir, and compose an original musical titled, The Girl with the Magic Skin. Artist website: communitymusicmission.org
Fellow Mic Crenshaw, Portland, Hip Hop Artist — $100,000
Currently an artist-in-residence at Benson High School in Portland — an alternative program serving students who have been marginalized — Mic uses hip-hop to fight racial and economic injustice and empower young people to thrive in their creative fields. He will use the Fellowship to sharpen his skills and pay it forward by assisting students in creating projects that will get them paid work. Artist website: miccrenshaw.com/home
Fellow Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, Chiloquin, Klamath and Modoc Artist and Activist — $100,000
Ka’ila lives and works in her ancestral homelands near Chiloquin, a town within the former Klamath Tribal Reservation lands. The Fields Artist Fellowship will serve as part business incubation, part youth mentorship and education, as she plans to build a woodworking studio to sell her art made from local, sustainability harvested timber materials. The studio will also offer drawing, painting and printmaking classes to local Tribal youth. Artist website: kailafarrellsmith.com
Fellow Joe Whittle, Enterprise, Photographer — $100,000
Born and raised in rural Wallowa County, Joe is an enrolled Native American tribal member and a person who has experienced the Opportunity Gap firsthand, having lived below the poverty level his entire life. He is a photographer and self-taught writer who has gained notoriety as a freelance journalist bringing Indigenous representation to outlets such as the Guardian, Outside Magazine, the New York Times, HuffPost and National Geographic. Joe will apply his fellowship to investigative journalism exploring the Opportunity Gap in Northeast Oregon. He also plans to create summer activities for kids impacted by the Opportunity Gap including photo and storytelling workshops and an outdoor skills and adventure school. Artist website: joewhittlephotography.com
Finalist Natalie Ball, Chiloquin, Contemporary Visual Artist — Artist website: nataliemball.com/home.html
Finalist Esteban Camacho Steffensen, Eugene, Muralist — Artist website: esteban-camacho.myportfolio.com
Finalist Jason Graham, Bend, Multidisciplinary Artist — Artist website: mosleywotta.com
Finalist Meghann Hanour, Astoria, Visual Artist — Artist website: patreon.com/meghannhanour
Finalist Eduardo Melendrez, Vale, Visual Artist — Artist website: facebook.com/chicanoarteddiemelendrez/
Finalist Vin Shambry, Portland, Performing Artist — Artist website: vinshambry.com
Finalist Sara Siestreem, Portland and Coos County, Cultural Heritage Artist — Artist website: augengallery.com/artists/artists/siestreem/
Finalist Sharita Towne, Portland, Multidisciplinary Artist — Artist website: cargocollective.com/sharitatowne
The Fields Artist Fellowship is supported by The Fred W. Fields Fund of Oregon Community Foundation, which was established in 2012 with a $150 million gift from the estate of Fred W. Fields. The gift, given to support education and the arts, is the largest single gift in the history of Oregon Community Foundation. Born in Alexandria, Indiana, Fields studied engineering at Indiana University and Purdue University. After getting a job at the Coe Manufacturing Company in 1947, Fields worked his way up until he purchased the company in 1976. Fields headed the company until 2000, when he sold it and retired.
“Too often, artists are unable to explore important issues in their work because of the pressures of making a living,” said OCF Program Officer Jerry Tischleder. “With the Fields Artist Fellowship, our goal is to give artists time and space to dig deeper into the connections between art, poverty and what it means to succeed.”
For more information on the Fields Artist Fellowship, visit http://oregonhumanities.org/programs/collaborative-projects/meet-the-2019-fields-fellows/