United States Artists, an arts funding organization based in Chicago, recently announced its 2022 USA Fellows. The 63 fellows, seven of whom are BIPOC recipients from New England, will each receive a $50,000 cash award to be spent however they choose.
“A lot of folks in this pool are very committed to their communities,” said Jessica Ferrer, a program co-manager at USA. “It’s manifested in their practice.”
This year’s group of fellows is the largest the organization has seen, Ferrer added. The 63 artists span 10 creative disciplines and represent 23 different states as well as Puerto Rico, according to a press release.
The New England winners are multidisciplinary artist and maker Alison Croney Moses, poet Chen Chen, writer Grace Talusan, musician and composer Jin Hi Kim, conceptual artist Olu Oguibe, dance duo The Wondertwins, and the research practice Design Earth.
Five of these seven recipients reside in Massachusetts. Croney Moses, Talusan, and the Wondertwins are all based in Boston; Chen represents Waltham, and Design Earth represents Cambridge.
Croney Moses said she “felt honored to be considered, and oh my goodness, surprised and screaming when I found out that I got it.”
Trained in furniture making at the Rhode Island School of Design, Croney Moses is currently working on a project with two other local artists as part of Black Mamas, a group that hosts events of “unadulterated joy” for Black mothers — for instance, rollerskating, hula hooping, and other activities.
“I’ve become a mother and stepped into myself a bit more,” Croney Moses said, “and so I’ve been embracing that in my art practice and, in addition to the sculptures, really thinking about community engagement.”
Croney Moses said she wanted to put her USA Fellowship award toward the Black Mamas project and making woodworking more accessible since “I rarely see a Black woman in a woodshop.” She also wants to work toward purchasing a home for her family.
“I’m very thrilled and very grateful for this grant and recognition,” said composer and musician Jin Hi Kim.
Kim plays the komungo, a traditional Korean instrument; in 1989, she pioneered the first-ever electric version, which took her decades to perfect. Kim’s most recent work was “A Ritual for Covid-19.”
“This was created in memory of over 5.5 million deaths worldwide during the pandemic,” said Kim, who added that as an artist, “I want to create therapeutic music performance for the community pain. . . . I really want to do something about this social issue.”
Kim said she wants to put her USA Fellowship award toward creating a new socially and politically conscious piece with her electric komungo, as well as toward creating a “komungo bot,” an algorithm-based instrument that can interact with the audience.
“I would love to hear her play live,” said Ferrer.
Sam Trottenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.