CARBON, MARS, OBSIDIAN: In Aaron Turner’s photography, black is far from being a single hue. Untitled (self, extended), 2020 (from Black Alchemy Vol. 3)

Arkansas Arts Council announced the recipients of its annual Individual Artist Fellowships which, in 2023, were awarded for achievements in “multisensory works with a tactile component, community engagement, contemporary craft with metal component, oil or acrylic painting on canvas, written theater monologue and stand-up comedy.”

Arkansas Arts Council 2023 Individual Artist Fellowship recipients

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The neat thing about these fellowships is that unlike many grants available to working artists, the stipends aren’t conditional upon an artist completing a specific project, attending a certain conference or demonstrating expenditures on art supplies, etc. “Not only do these grants recognize the incredible talent we have in our state,” Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism interim director Shea Lewis said, “but they also provide much-needed flexible funding for artists who are the backbone of our state’s creative economy.” The $5K awards can be used for art or for basic living expenses — a win for a creative Arkansan trying to make a living through their art. “The Individual Artist Fellowship award program is unique because it is statewide,” Arkansas Heritage director Marty Ryall said, “and it allows the recipients to use funding to meet basic or ongoing needs. No other state or regional entity offers a grant like this.”

Thanks to a boost from the Windgate Foundation, the Council awarded 18 fellowships for the second year in a row — up from nine in previous years. Among the winners were a few artists we’ve covered in the Arkansas Times: photographer Aaron Turner, playwright Shabana Kauser, organizer Rachel Reynolds and bladesmith Lin Rhea. Recipients will be celebrated with a reception at the Old State House Museum from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, and here’s that full list. 

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