Here Are the 14 Gripping, Change-Making Projects That Won Anonymous Was A Woman’s First Ever $250,000 Environmental Art Grants

The grant is designed to address the lack of existing support for environmental art.

paris cyan cian in collaboration with theShoreCo.'s Cameron Mitchell Ware (creative producer) and jeremy de'jon (AWAW EAG), theShore:in/SIGHT (2021), film. Photo Credit: Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee
paris cyan cian in collaboration with theShoreCo.'s Cameron Mitchell Ware (creative producer) and jeremy de'jon (AWAW EAG), theShore:in/SIGHT (2021), film. Photo Credit: Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee

A community project focused on soil health, an installation that brings queer artists to the streets of New Orleans, and an exhibition that interrogates Brownsville, Texas’s rebranding as a SpaceX “space city” are among the projects awarded funding as part of the first ever Anonymous Was A Woman Environmental Art Grants.

The program—an offshoot of the long-running Anonymous Was A Woman (AWAW) grant initiative—is a partnership with New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and offers a onetime grant of up to $20,000 to 14 female-led, impact-driven environmental art projects in the U.S. Awardees hail from locations ranging from Puerto Rico to the Pacific Northwest and explore climate change through performance, magic, mycology, fashion design, and more.

AWAW’s founder Susan Unterberg, who gave grants to female-identifying artists over 40 anonymously until four years ago, was inspired to develop the program after working with Jeanne Silverthorne on Disaster Diary, an art book about climate change. She realized “there was not funding specifically for environmental art projects,” she told Artnet News earlier this year.

The total pool of funding is $250,000. The awardees join the ranks of over 265 artists who have received a total $6.5 million since Anonymous Was A Woman started in 1996.

The fact that NYFA received more than 900 applications for the program underscores “that the environment is at the forefront of many artists’ minds and that there is impactful work being done by women-identifying artists to spur thought and action in their communities and beyond,” NYFA executive director Michael Royce said in a statement.

“WE ARE HERE/ESTAMOS AQUI” (Michelle Glass) featuring Epifania Salazar, Francisca Rangel, Juanita Garza, Monse Rodriquez, Luz Maria Sosa, Photo Credit: Natalie Zajac.

The jury included ecoartspace founder and curator Patricia Watts, Great River Pass Fellow Angie Tillges, and conceptual multimedia artist and educator Alicia Grullón. They judged proposals based on conceptual novelty and sophistication, but most importantly, the potential for real-world impact. Every project will facilitate public engagement and take place by June 2023.

“The enormous response received is proof that artists are eager to confront the practical and existential crises of our current moment creatively, and that this kind of work deserves much more attention and resources,” Unterberg said in a statement.

These artworks can’t adorn your living room walls, but they can make the earth a better living room for us all.

Notable recipients include Maru Garcia, in collaboration with Self Help Graphics and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who is working to develop new methods to reduce lead in the soil surrounding L.A.’s former industrial centers; paris cyan cian, Cameron Mitchell Ware of theShoreCo; and jeremy de’jon, who are combining movement, sound, and recycled oyster shells for a multi-site performance about coastal erosion in Louisiana; and Nansi Guevara and Monica Sosa in partnership on a Brownsville exhibition exposing the “untold South Texas history of land settlement and colonization,” following SpaceX’s recent arrival in the city.

Check out the full list of artists behind the selected projects, their locations, and select concept images below.

Amara Abdal Figueroa (Borikén)

Erika Bolstad (Oregon)

Kaitlin Bryson (New Mexico)

paris cyan cian with theShoreCo.’s Cameron Mitchell Ware and jeremy de’jon (Louisiana)

Maru Garcia with Self Help Graphics and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (California)

Michelle Glass (California)

Nansi Guevara and Monica Sosa (Texas)

Autumn Leiker (New Mexico)

Shanjana Mahmud and Luke Eddins (New York)

Cyan Meeks and Susan Mayo (Kansas)

Jan Mun (New York)

Júlia Pontés (New York)

Mary Swander (Iowa)

ChristinaMaria Xochitlzihuatl (Texas)

Shanjana Mahmud and Luke Eddins, “Winter Species,” drying harvested kelp, May 2022.

Nansi Guevara and Monica Sosa, “The Magic Valley y Nuestra Delta Magica : settler imaginaries and community resistance,” “The colonization of Boca Chica,” 2022.

Michelle Glass, “WE ARE HERE/ESTAMOS AQUI” Ceremonial Procession, 2022, 2500 foot story cloth, Photo Credit: In Motion Studio.

Maru Garcia, Self Help Graphics, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; “Prospering backyards;” Five Agents Installation at Self Help Graphics; Artists: Maru Garcia and Zoe Blaq.

Cyan Meeks and Susan Mayo; Flint Hills Counterpoint community programming “Water, Water, Everywhere” panel discussion & Natural Springs of Marion County Tour, 2022, digital photography, 6″ x 6″, Photo Credit: Cyan Meeks.

ChristinaMaria Xochitlzihuatl, Opening Meditation, “Borders Like Water,” 2020, video, 3 minutes.

Autumn Leiker, digital artwork by Autumn Leiker.

Amara Abdal Figueroa, “arcilla y asserrín / clay and sawdust,” 2021.


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