After a several month delay due to the pandemic, Seattle-based non-profit Artist Trust announced the nine recipients of the 2020 Fellowship Awards: visual artists Dan Friday, Tatiana Garmendia, Mary Ann Peters, and Anthony White; performing artist Benjamin Hunter; multidisciplinary artists Jaleesa Johnston and Chris E. Vargas; and literary artists Rena Priest and Sharma Shields.

The Artist Trust Fellowships are merit-based, giving $10,000 in unrestricted cash prizes to practicing professional artists of any discipline living in Washington state. Additionally, the organization partnered with the Seattle-based Vadon Foundation to present the Vadon Foundation Native Artist Fellowship for native artists, also for $10,000. This year it went to poet Rena Priest, a member of Lhaq'temish (Lummi) Nation, who said she hoped that the award will "inspire young creatives in my tribal community to follow their hearts with faith and persistence."

Support The Stranger

Several of the selected artists have communicated how difficult the pandemic has been on their practice. In a statement, Garmendia said that she has been painting over her old canvases because she ran out of materials, "limiting the scale of my work with understandable thrift," but this money will help change that. Similarly, Johnston said that this grant would help "materialize ideas that have been sitting in my sketchbook over the last couple of years."

Last summer, Artist Trust went under an immense amount of scrutiny after several artists signed an open letter blasting the organization as being “inequitable, opaque and unresponsive to community needs” with “long-held practices that have unjustly impacted Black, Indigenous and otherwise racialized peoples” and a "misogynistic and toxic work environment." The letter came after the board dismissed all of the majority-WOC jury's suggestions for the winners of the 2020 Artist Innovator Awards (AIA) process, as well as the delay of the Fellowship Awards. Artist Trust eventually apologized and reinstated the original AIA jury board.

Applications will open in October for the next cycle of Fellowship Awards with a November 8 deadline. Guidelines will go up on the Artist Trust website in September. You can check out the updated grants schedule here.