18 artists, writers, named Kresge Fellows
A graphic novelist, painters, poets and a performance collective called the Tzarinas of the Plane number among the 2015 Kresge Artist Fellows announced Thursday.
This year's winners total 18, culled from 650 applicants, and are evenly divided between the literary and visual arts. Judges were selected by Kresge Arts in Detroit.
Each fellow gets $25,000 from the Kresge Foundation with no strings attached, plus a year of professional coaching in how to manage an arts career.
The group includes relative unknowns, as well as familiar names on the Detroit cultural scene such as longtime Detroit journalist and fiction writer Desiree Cooper, and Nancy Mitchnick, a painter who emerged from the 1970s Cass Corridor art movement.
The question confronting each fellow, of course, is what to do with the $25,000. For Oakland University writing professor and graphic storyteller Jeffrey S. Chapman, 41, it's still too soon to say.
"For now I'll just put it aside," he said. "To be honest, I don't know yet. It's a phenomenal amount of money." He laughs. "They say you can use it for anything. You can go buy shoes. So maybe I'll buy shoes."
Tiff Massey, a metalworker in Detroit, has very distinct plans for her windfall.
"I plan on using some of it to establish a classroom in my space," said the 33-year-old, "and to launch a jewelers' residency." The rest, Massey adds, will likely go toward acquiring more tools.
"I have my eye on a laser cutter," she said.
Sarah Rose Sharp, a "creative generalist" and writer who does arts criticism for Knight Arts in Detroit, says the fellowships help anchor the metro area's creative community.
"They're a great driver for creative people," said the 34-year-old who moved to Detroit from New York six years ago. "They signal that there are people out there paying attention."
She added, "One thing I've always appreciated about Kresge is that they demonstrate real sensitivity to what it means to be an artist — that it's not a career move, but a calling."
Sharp holds down four jobs to support her art-and-writing habit. "To have the freedom to be able to pursue that without juggling other things," she said, "is a huge gift."
Kresge Artist Fellows 2015
Literary Arts Fellows
Jeffrey S. Chapman, graphic novels, fiction
Desiree Cooper, flash fiction
Kahn Santori Davison, poetry
Walerian Domanski, short stories
Billy Mark, experimental freestyle poet
Airea D. Matthews, poetry
Sarah Rose Sharp, arts criticism
George Tysh, poetry
Lillien Waller, poetry
Visual Arts Fellows
Cuppetelli and Mendoza, new media art
M. Saffell Gardner, painting
Cynthia Greig, photography
Carole Harris, fiber art
Tzarinas of the Plane, performance art
Tiff Massey, metalwork, sculpture
Nancy M. Mitchnick, painting
Jonathan Rajewski, painting
Chris Schanck, sculpture