Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Awards $400,000 in Artist as Activist Grants

Part of One Million Bones, a project from Susan McAllister and Naomi Natale. Photo: Brett Duke, courtesy The Times-Picayune.
Part of One Million Bones, a project from Susan McAllister and Naomi Natale. Photo: Brett Duke, courtesy The Times-Picayune.

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation has announced the six recipients of its inaugural Artist as Activist fellowships. The two-year grants will put a total of $400,000 toward supporting artists and artist collectives whose work is concerned with social issues.

First announced in September (see Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Grants Support Activist Artists), the Artist as Activist program received over 600 applications from 42 states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

The winners include four artists and two artist collectives, who will receive grants ranging from $30,000 to $100,000. The artists seek not only to raise awareness but to push people to act to combat problems like climate change (see The Art of New York’s Climate Change Demonstrations), mass incarceration, and caste-based sexual violence.

“Robert Rauschenberg used his artistic voice to foster conversations around the pressing issues of his time,” said Christy MacLear, the foundation’s executive director, in a statement. “We are proud to continue that legacy by supporting fearless, forward-thinking artists who are serving as creative problem solvers.”

“The significant response to our call for proposals is evidence of the growing number of artists working at this intersection of art and activism,” added director of philanthropy Risë Wilson. “It also underscores the need to strengthen the ways creative thinkers are resourced to do this kind of work . . . work that crosses sectors, pushes boundaries, and defies conventional grant categories.”

The program will also disperse $50,000 in travel and research grants to nine additional artists, and $200,000 in unrestricted grants to organizations supporting such socially engaged artists, for a total of $650,000.

The list of the 2015 Artist as Activist fellows:

Chemi M. Rosado-Seijo, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Rosado-Seijo has spent the last 13 years as an informal artist-in-residence in the rural mountain village of El Cerro, where he hopes to continue his efforts to foster a sense of community among locals and promote business creation.

Dalit Diva, Brooklyn
The artist collective combats caste-based sexual violence in India, using art to both document and aid the anti-violence movement  #DALITWOMENFIGHT.

Deanna Van Buren, Oakland
Van Buren is helping formerly incarcerated young adults rejoin their communities through the Pop-up Resource Village, which plans to transform old city buses into classrooms, computer labs, and safe houses.

Jasiri X, Pittsburgh
Jasiri X works with young African-American men, helping them to dispel stereotypes perpetuated by the media by offering them a way to express themselves through the arts.

People’s Climate Arts, Brooklyn
Dedicated to social, economic, and climate justice, People’s Climate Arts hopes to bring together artists, laborers, immigrants, and youth to raise awareness.

Susan McAllister and Naomi Natale, Albuquerque
McAllister and Natale’s last project, One Million Bones, enlisted artists to make clay bones to speak out against genocide. In their follow-up, Constellation of Chilean Memory, they will partner with Chileans to allow the community to share memories of that country’s 1973 coup d’état.


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