RI – Two African-Americans are among three local artists who will receive
$25,000 grants from the Rhode Island Foundation through its Robert and Margaret
MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund. RaMell Ross and Jordan Seabury were selected
from more than 150 applicants for what are considered to be among the largest
no-string-attached grants available to artists in the United States.
fellowships are designed to enable artists to concentrate time on the creative
process, focus on personal or professional development, expand their body of
work and explore new directions. Since 2005, the Foundation has awarded
$900,000 to 36 composers, writers and visual artists.
grants offer the financial support necessary to free these artists to advance
their work,” said Daniel Kertzner, the Foundation’s senior philanthropic
advisor for funding partnerships, who oversees grantmaking in the arts sector.
“They give local artists the rare gift of time and money so they can invest in
developing their craft.”
describes himself as a liberated documentarian and works in large-format
photography, film and text. His art has looked at his insider-outsider
relationship with the historic South while considering it the origin for his
social formation. Ross is a Professor of Practice in Brown University's Visual
Arts Department who earned his MFA in photography at the Rhode Island School of
Providence resident will use the fellowship to purchase additional camera
equipment and film and underwrite the travel and production costs that will be
central to his next two projects.
interested in actively engaging the precedents of those markedly cast in the
American imagination. From the South, I plan to expand my photographic and
filmic language of inquiry into class and explore the text-based language
determining further difference - both managing constructs of human potential.”
explains Ross. “This fellowship will enable my practice to move into the homes
of families across the country and provide the space to begin a new linguist
works primarily in paint and mixed media. As director of public policy at
the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, his work often
focuses on creating spaces for restoration and reconciliation, including The
Violences (sic) Project, which creates paintings in collaboration with the
families of Providence's gun violence victims.
Providence resident has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting/ Literary Arts
Concentration from the Rhode Island School of Design. Seaberry plans to
use his fellowship to upgrade his studio space and to expand his artistic
vocabulary to include sculpture, mixed media and larger, three-dimensional
will give me the space to experiment, and find new ways to honor the voices of
Providence's marginalized families. Formally, my work can become larger,
three-dimensional, remove itself from the wall and create an overall richer
dialogue between the material and the content,” Seaberry explained.
this will give me a previously unachievable level of engagement with the
artistic community as a whole. I believe these voices, families and stories
behind these works yearn for dialogue and engagement, and this Fellowship can
be microphone that allows those voices to be truly, meaningfully heard,” he
Soleimani is the third recipient. The Iranian-American’s works meld
sculpture, collage and photography to create collisions in reference to Iranian
politics throughout the past century. The daughter of political refugees who
were persecuted by the Iranian government in the early 1980s, Soleimani inserts
her own critical perspectives on historical and contemporary socio-political
occurrences in Iran.
Cranston resident is a part-time professor at the Rhode Island School of
Design, teaching classes that focus on interdisciplinary practices, with a
focus on art and activism. She has a BFA from the University of Cincinnati and
an MFA from the Cranbook Academy of Art.
most recent works have been extremely expensive to make, from printing source
images on paper and fabric, to fabricating and filling the forms of the
executed women. This will make buying materials for experimentation possible,”
explains Soleimani. “This will aid me in producing exhibitions to show
nationally and internationally, while generating conversations with global
communities in regards to the issues I am discussing within my works.”
recipients were selected by a panel of four out-of-state jurors who are
established artists. Applications were reviewed based on the quality of the
work, artistic development and creative contribution to the field of visual
arts, as well as the potential of the fellowship to advance the career of
emerging- to mid-career artists.
panel also named three finalists, who received $3,000 and the opportunity to
participate in a residency at Ox-Bow School of Artist and Artists’ Residency:
Raina Belleau, a Providence sculptor who received an MFA from RISD in 2015;
Providence Photographer Theresa Ganz who received an MFA from San Francisco Art
Institute in 2006; and Providence interdisciplinary artist Jazzmen Johnson who
received MA from Brown University in Public Humanities.
selection panel also named semi-finalists for the first time. Providence
sculptor Taylor Baldwin who received an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth
University in 2007; Jungil Hong, a Providence textile artist who received an
MFA from RISD in 2014; and Alyson Ogasian, a Providence interdisciplinary artist
who received an MFA from RISD in 2015; received $1,500 fellowships.
Islanders Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson were both dedicated to the arts
all their lives. Margaret Johnson, who died in 1990, earned a degree in
creative writing from Roger Williams College when she was 70. Robert Johnson
invented a new process for mixing metals in jewelry-making and then retired to
become a fulltime painter. Before he died in 1999, Johnson began discussions
with the Foundation that led to the creation of the MacColl Johnson fellowships
in music composition, literature and visual arts.
fund awards three fellowships annually, rotating among composers, writers and
visual artists on a three-year cycle. Guidelines and applications for the
2017 fellowships, which will be awarded to composers, will be available on the
Foundation’s website after July 1.
Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of
nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2016, the Foundation awarded a
record $45 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most
pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership,
fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals
and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true
potential. For more information about the MacColl Johnson fellowships, visit rifoundation.org.