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Kresge Foundation awards 18 artist fellowships

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

The Kresge Foundation announced its 2016 class of Artist Fellows on Thursday, with awards this year that focus on film, music and the live arts.

In all, 17 local artists and one collective, ranging from a “body puppet artist” to a composer who sees himself as a sound-healer, will each get $25,000 with no strings attached. Fellows also win a year’s worth of professional training tailor-made for arts careers.

For the second-year running, two emerging artists won Gilda Awards — named for the late artist and College for Creative Studies professor Gilda Snowden. The recipients are animator Ellen Coons, and director and choreographer Marsae Mitchell. Each will receive $5,000.

CCS President Richard L. Rogers said that every year the awards remind him of the region’s deep wellsprings of talent, and this year is no exception.

“From emerging experimentalists to iconic figures of the creative scene,” Rogers said, “they radiate cultural energy.”

Among the 2016 Film & Music recipients are percussionist Chi Amen-Ra, whose work harnesses the rhythms of the African Diaspora and who performed at Super Bowl XL, and Danny Kroha, a veteran rocker who’s played in numerous Detroit bands over the years, including the Gories and the Demolition Doll Rods.

Live Arts winners include longtime theater director Gary Anderson, the artistic director of Detroit’s Plowshares Theatre Company, and jessica Care moore, a poet who combines electric jazz and storytelling.

The Kresge Artist Fellows program was created to encourage the area’s creatives to stay in Detroit, rather than migrating to Chicago, New York and other cultural capitals. Since 2008, the program has awarded 144 fellowships at $25,000 apiece.

Eight artists with long careers of unusual distinction have been named Eminent Artists over the same period, with stipends of $50,000 apiece.

The Kresge Foundation funds the program, but applications are reviewed by an independent jury of five, with two local voices and three national figures. Jury panels change every year. The Kresge Arts in Detroit staff, which oversees the program, has no say in picking winners.

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2016 Kresge Artist Fellows

Film & Music Fellows

Christopher Jon Alexander: Documentary/Fiction Hybrid Filmmaker

Chi Amen-Ra: Percussionist

Mahogany Jones: Hip Hop Artist

Marion Hayden: Jazz Musician

Danny Kroha: Musician, Performer, Songwriter

Oksana Mirzoyan: Screenwriter, Director

Joshua Mulligan: Animator

Sterling Toles: Composer, Producer

Pamela D. Wise: Composer, Performer

Live Arts Fellows

Gary Anderson: Theater director

Biba Bell: Choreographer, dancer

jessica Care moore: Interdisciplinary Poet

Corazon del Pueblo (collaborative): Folk Dance, Choreography

L05: Live Media Artist, performer

Jimbo Easter: Performance artist

Joshua Mulligan, animator

Shaun S. Nethercott: Playwright

Red Stowall: Choreographer, dancer

Ralph Taylor: Carnival Body puppet artist, performer

Gilda Awards

Ellen Coons: Animator

Marsae Mitchell: Choreographer and director