Four Texas-based artists are among the 15 who have been awarded the inugural $50,000 U.S. Latinx Artist Fellowship.
Two of the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations — Ford Foundation and the Mellon Foundation — have committed $5 million to the new fellowship program that awards $50,000 unrestricted grants. The fellowships are administered by the US Latinx Art Forum (USLAF) in collaboration with the New York Foundation for the Arts. Over five years, 75 artists will receive a total $3.75 million, with further support planned for museums and academic projects.
The 2021 cohort represents an intentionally chosen generational mix of artists: five are emerging, five are mid-career, and five are established. The artists also represent a diversity of gender, gender identity, ethno-racial, class, geographic, and disability.
Recipients did not apply. Instead they were selected by a jury of six Latino curators from a mix of three mainstream art museums and three contemporary art museums founded by Latinx people for their local communities: Rita Gonzalez at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Marcela Guerrero at the Whitney Museum in New York; Mari Carmen Ramirez at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Cesáreo Moreno at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Rodrigo Moura at El Museo del Barrio in New York, and Sylvia Orozco at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, plus an independent curator, art historian Yasmin Ramirez.
Neither the Ford Foundation nor the Mellon Foundation have a history of giving grants directly to individual artists. The initiative is in part meant to address a larger inequity found in the philanthropic world, Deborah Cullen-Morales, a program officer at the Mellon Foundation, told ArtNews.
“(This is an) effort to get money into the hands of artists, especially these generally under-resourced and highly overlooked artists that are commensurate with 20 percent of a population demographic,” she said.
Recent U.S. Census figures show 18.5% of the U.S. population identifies as Latino/Latina/Latinx or Hispanic, a number expected to grow in the coming years. However to according the research project LatinxFunders from to 2013 to 2019, annual funding to Latinx arts and culture dropped from $39 million to $13 million.
The new fellowship also launches the Latinx Art Visibility Initiative, a three-part program led by the Mellon and Ford foundations; later phases will provide support to museums committed to collecting and studying Latinx art and will develop partnerships with scholars and students studying Latinx art and artists.