Interested in an Artist Fellowship?
In 2016, Erie Arts & Culture committed to making a greater investment in the artists living and working in Erie County by establishing the annual Artist Fellowship program. The agency saw a need to provide artists with unrestricted funding that could be used to pursue artistic development and growth.
Originally, Erie Arts & Culture awarded three fellowships annually – two to emerging artists and one to an established artist. In 2020, the agency’s Grantmaking Committee reviewed the program’s eligibility requirement through the lens of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Upon further reflection, the Erie Arts & Culture Board of Trustees and Grantmaking Committee decided that it was necessary to revise program criteria and guidelines. Starting in 2020, the fellowship program includes three artist categories: Emerging, Mid-Career, and Established.
What is a Fellowship?
Erie Arts & Culture recognizes individual artistic achievement and potential through its annual Artist Fellowship program, which provides cash awards to three artists from Erie County. The Fellowship, which includes cash awards ranging between $2,000-$5,500, helps individual artists sustain or enhance their creative process and advance their career in the arts.
Who is eligible to apply?
- To be eligible for the award, applicants must be 18 years old or older
- Be a current resident of Erie County, PA
- Applicants cannot be a full-time student of any kind at the time of the application deadline
- Applicants cannot be a member of Erie Arts & Culture’s board of Trustees, subcommittees, or staff, or be an immediate relative of a member of Erie Arts & Culture’s board of Trustees, subcommittees, or staff.
What are the categories?
- Fellowships will not be awarded to interpretative artists such as dancers, actors, or musicians who solely perform the work of others
- Applicants must be the originators of the work; i.e. choreographers or playwrights
Emerging Artist Fellowship ($2,000)
An emerging artist is someone who is in the early stage of their career and has a modest independent body of work. At this stage in the artist’s career, solo exhibitions or performances of their work are often limited and recognition and opportunities occur primarily at the local level.
Mid-career Artist Fellowship ($3,500)
A mid-career artist is an artist who has created an independent body of work over a number of years. At this stage in the artist’s career, one has received a number of solo exhibitions or performances through esteemed venues, either regionally and nationally.
Established Artist Fellowship ($5,500)
An established artist is mature in their career. They have created an extensive body of independent work and may even be an influencer in their respective disciplines. At this stage in their career, an established artist has an advanced level of achievement and has sustained national and even possibly international opportunities and recognition.
What is the process?
- Complete and return an Artist Fellowship application on the Erie Arts & Culture website
- After applications are submitted, Erie Arts & Culture Program’s Department reviews each application to confirm they are complete and meet the application requirements
- Applications are then reviewed by an independent panel composed of subject matter experts from outside of Erie County, using an objective set of criteria
- Artist Fellowships are chosen based on the work samples submitted
- Materials are reviewed and voted on by panelists in a single panel meeting
- Panel recommendations are reviewed by the Grantmaking Committee and by Erie Arts & Culture’s Board of Trustees.
- Panelists' names are kept confidential until the awards are announced.
When is the deadline and what happens next?
Applications must be submitted online by 11:30 pm August 21, 2020. No applications will be accepted after the deadline. Artist Fellowship awards will be announced by November 30, 2020.
2019 Erie Arts & Culture Fellows
Established Artist Fellowship: Shelle Barron
Shelle Barron is a Professor of Art at Edinboro University, where she teaches graphic and two-dimensional design. She has shown her large-scale mixed media work in juried exhibitions, invitationals, and solo projects for some time, winning more than 20 awards for her work. Her artwork involves experimental digital methodologies, combined with more traditional art-making processes to explore personal narratives in an original manner.
Emerging Artist Fellowships:
Alexa Potter, Timothy Randall, and Antonio Howard
Q&A with Antonio Howard
What did it mean to you to receive a fellowship award from Erie Arts & Culture?
I received an Emerging Artist Award from the kind folks at Erie Arts and Culture at a time when my interest in producing art was waning. I had suffered some disappointing losses in years past. Specifically, the loss of my father. Though he is still physically alive, prior to discovering that I had produced a body of artwork he could sell, my father like most of my family, was absent for much of my imprisonment. My paintings brought him back into my life for what I mistook as a second chance at a father-son relationship. To him, however, it was all business. And while it was fairly successful for a time and season, it ended when my father cut me off, kept all my paintings and money, and severed ties completely. I spent years grappling with the wounds inflicted by his betrayal. I continued to paint but not with the kind of enthusiasm I once had. Fast forward approximately 2 years ago, weeks prior to my release from prison, my father returned part of my collection. Because of the negative energy, I associated with it, I just wanted to rid myself of it until its intrinsic value was acknowledged by the folks at Erie Arts and Culture. For me, that award was the official ceremony welcoming me back into the community. A ceremony that I was sure would never happen due to the injury I visited upon the Erie community as a whole. There’s a saying: no painting is ever complete, just abandoned. Well, thanks to the folks at Erie Arts and Culture, I’m now proof that no painting is ever abandoned.
What have I been working on since receiving my fellowship award?
- An art show at Edinboro University along with fellow members of Chroma;
- A mural in conjunction with artist and teacher Ceasar Westbrook commemorating the life of Luther Manus, one of Erie’s own unsung heroes;
- Writing my second book;
- Paintings for display and sale at the Erie County Food Co-op in January;
- Being the best husband ever to my lovely and equally talented wife Sarah;
- Freeing the part of me still imprisoned.
Have I experienced any milestones or accomplishments since receiving my fellowship award?
- 10/20/19 —Featured Speaker (along with Attorney Maria Goellner) at Mercyhurst University; invited by the criminal justice department and students.
- 12/1/2019 —Volunteer painter for Erie Arts and Culture of a 36”x 48” Harry T. Burleigh commemorative-stamp portrait in honor of the 1st Harry T. Burleigh week, recognized by the Mayor of the City of Erie. http://www.facebook.com/175689639923998/posts/today-mayor-schember-proclaimed-harry-t-burleigh-day-in-the-city-of-erie-on-the-/592758724883752/.
o 12/15/19 —Referenced by Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri in Erie Times-News article as a “success story,” and “what rehabilitation should look like.” https://www.goerie.com/entertainmentlife/20191215/qa-with-erie-county-district-attorney-jack-daneri.
- 2019 —Collaborated with Mercyhurst University to write a grant application to Erie Arts & Culture to launch “A Bridge Back, a Creative Writing Workshop at Albion State Prison” in which I am to serve as co-coordinator and volunteer (on pause due to COVID-19 pandemic).
- 2/23/2020 —Featured Speaker at Unitarian Church on the subject of Art, Freedom, and Redemption.
- 2/24/2020 —Featured Speaker at the Western District of Pennsylvania federal Reintegration Into Society Efforts (RISE) Court Graduation, Pittsburgh Division of the WDPA Court.
- 3/2020 —Participant in Arts & Drafts Festival; artwork showcased.
- 3/2020 —Participant in Jay & Mona Kang Art Show & Sale (Barber National Institute); artwork showcased.
- 3/20/2020 —Scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the graduation of social work students at Gannon University on the subject of Police-Community Relations (postponed due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts).
- Spring 2020 —Selected by long-time Art Administrator, former director of the Erie Art Museum, and art appreciator John Vanco to be the 2020 Artist for the 28th Annual Erie Blues and Jazz Festival.
- 4/13/2020 —Accepted into the Jefferson Education Society Civic Leadership Academy and plan to graduate as part of its Class of 2020.
- 6/19/2020 —Member of the Duquesne University Elsinore-Bennu Think Tank for Restorative Justice. The Think Tank designs programs which apply concepts of Restorative Justice to heal broken relationships in communities harmed by crime. This process brings victim, offender and community together to resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offense and its implications for the future. The Think Tank’s name reflects both Hamlet’s grim Elsinore castle and Bennu, the Egyptian symbol of rebirth. [email protected]
- 7/2/2020 —Member of Board of Directors for the Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
- 7/16/2020 —Selected along with Ceasar Westbrook to paint a mural commemorating the life and legacy of one of Erie’s own unsung heroes, Mr. Luther Manus.
Shelle Barron discusses her experience:
It is hard for me to overstate my reaction to being awarded the 2019 Established Artist of the Year by Erie Arts and Culture. I have been blessed by the opportunity to spend many years involved in making and teaching art and design in northwestern Pennsylvania. Although I have received grants and awards during these many years, none has been more significant than this award from my community. The monetary award from Erie Arts & Culture has created a new motivation in me to experiment with new techniques and methods that were unattainable to me in the past. I originally planned to use the grant to fund additional expenses for a month-long residency (flights, supplies, etc) during a sabbatical granted to me from Edinboro University. The pandemic got in the way...cancelling all residencies for 2020. So, I am doing a residency at my residence! I reconfigured my third floor studio to allow for more “table space,” and have used grant monies to make application to juried shows, buy a scanner and printer for my collage work, and support my pro bono work in the community. I am working in the studio on a new experimental series of mixed media...and have had an opportunity to work on additional design projects. I designed new branding for the Northwestern Pennsylvania Artists Association (working with a design committee), and designed a curriculum (written by my colleagues) to address “art+agency,” an initiative for educators to provide projects that address racial inequities in support of our visiting artist for 2020, Aruna D’Souza. The grant has also supported my pro bono work. I will be designing a book on the history of performance art from the perspective of a documentary filmmaker (and Edinboro alum) who was part of the original movement. I want to thank everyone at Erie Arts & Culture for allowing me to pursue new adventures. I am grateful that the grant supported someone (me) that straddles the professions of art and design.
Alexa Potter discusses her experience:
As an older emerging artist, the validation and financial support of my 2019 Erie Arts & Culture fellowship meant the world to me. It is terrifying to switch careers at almost fifty; the recognition gave me confidence that this wasn’t a foolhardy endeavor. The financial assistance enabled me to take my artwork to the Superfine Art Fair in Washington, DC, where I increased my audience and found further validation of my vision. Since receiving my award, I have continued with my original sculptures and conceptual art, but also expanded my practice to photography. I will be showing all the new work that I’ve made since receiving my fellowship at I Found It On the Ground, my annual group exhibition. I was elected president of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Artists Association in January, and encourage all of our members to embrace the support and programming Erie Arts & Culture and the PRO Network have to offer.