Simone Leigh, Juliana Huxtable, and Wu Tsang Are Among the 45 Artists Awarded $50,000 Each From United States Artists

Since its founding in 2006, the nonprofit has given $25 million to over 500 American artists.

Winners of the 2019 United States Artists fellowships in visual art. Clockwise from left: Juliana Huxtable, Simone Leigh, Wu Tsang, Cecilia Vicuña, Dyani White Hawk, and Firelei Baez. Courtesy of United States Artists.

United States Artists, an arts nonprofit based in Chicago, announced the 2019 winners of its annual fellowship today, which gives unrestricted $50,000 awards to each of 45 American artists across 10 categories, including dance, film, media, traditional arts, visual art, and writing.

As in previous years, it’s a diverse group, running the gamut in terms of age, ethnicity, and location. The six winning visual artists are Juliana Huxtable, Simone Leigh, Wu Tsang, Dyani White Hawk, Firelei Báez, and Cecilia Vicuña. (Leigh was also the recipient of last year’s Hugo Boss prize.)

“There is a lot of interdisciplinary play with this group and we love it!”  Deana Haggag, president and CEO of United States Artists, told artnet News. This year’s fellows are “all profoundly mastering their crafts and impacting their fields, while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of their respective genres and experimenting within their disciplines.”

United States Artists CEO Deana Haggag. Photo: Olivia Obineme. Courtesy of United States Artists.

United States Artists was founded in 2006, a joint fundraising organization created by the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson, and Prudential Foundations. Since then, it has given more than $25 million to some 500 American artists with its annual fellowships.

Fellows are nominated anonymously by a rotating group of artists, critics, curators, and other experts in the field, then invited to submit an application. Discipline-specific panels then review the applications and choose winners for each field.

The list of alumni is impressive: previous winners include cartoonist Chris Ware (2006), performance artist Joan Jonas (2009), Moonlight director Barry Jenkins (2012), dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer (2016), and writer Fred Moten (2018), among others.

“Since day one, our aim has been to represent the fullness of our collective artistic landscape as well as spotlight the many different practitioners cultivating it,” Haggag says. “Doing this is important to us because it’s honest and accurately reflects the most compelling work being made in our country right now. I would also argue that it’s impossible to wholly consider the magnitude of cultural practice in the United States without looking at each region, every viewpoint and voice, and paying attention to all disciplines and the ways that artists are evolving them.”

See the full list of this year’s winners below.


Architecture & Design

Erin Besler & Ian Besler—Architects & Designers—Princeton, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York

Lucia Cuba—Designer & Textile Artist—New York

Keller Easterling—Writer & Designer—New Haven, Connecticut, and New York



Coulter Fussell—Quilter—Water Valley, Mississippi

Samuel Harvey—Ceramicist—Aspen, Colorado

Michelle Holzapfel—Wood Carver—Marlboro, Vermont

Janice Lessman-Moss—Digital Weaver—Kent, Ohio

Carole Frances Lung—Social Practice and Performance Artist—Long Beach, California



David Dorfman—Choreographer—New London, Connecticut

Lenora Lee—Dancer & Choreographer—San Francisco

Alice Sheppard—Dancer & Choreographer—Los Altos, California

Merián Soto—Dancer & Choreographer—Philadelphia

Yara Travieso—Choreographer & Filmmaker—Brooklyn, New York



Nuotama Frances Bodomo—Filmmaker—Queens, New York

Ramona S. Diaz—Documentary Filmmaker—Baltimore

Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar—Documentary Filmmakers—Yellow Springs, Ohio



Hyphen-Labs—Designers—New York

Mitra Kaboli—Multimedia Artist and Podcaster—Brooklyn, New York



Reena Esmail—Composer—Pasadena, California

Helado Negro—Avant-Pop Musician and Performer—Brooklyn, New York

Susie Ibarra—Percussionist & Composer—New Paltz, New York

Roscoe Mitchell—Multi-Instrumentalist and Composer—Oakland, California

Tunde Olaniran—Pop Musician & Performer—Flint, Michigan

Jen Shyu—Vocalist & Composer—Brooklyn, New York

Theater & Performance

Charlotte Brathwaite—Director—New York

Rashida Bumbray—Choreographer and Performer—Brooklyn, New York

Teo Castellanos—Theater Artist—Miami

Complex Movements—Installation and Performance Collective—Detroit, Michigan

Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig—Dramatist—Santa Barbara, California

Kaneza Schaal—Theater Artist—Brooklyn, New York


Traditional Arts

Juan Díes—Mexican Folk Musician—Chicago

Gabriel Frey—Traditional Basketmaker—Orono, Maine

Arthur Lopez—Wood Sculptor—Santa Fe, New Mexico

Allison Akootchook Warden—Multidisciplinary Artist & Performer—Anchorage, Alaska


Visual Art

Firelei Báez—Multidisciplinary Artist—New York

Juliana Huxtable—Multidisciplinary Artist & Writer—Brooklyn, New York

Simone Leigh—Multidisciplinary Artist—New York

Wu Tsang—Filmmaker and Artist—Los Angeles

Cecilia Vicuña—Multidisciplinary Artist & Poet—New York

Dyani White Hawk—Painter & Mixed Media Artist—Minneapolis, Minnesota



Lesley Nneka Arimah—Fiction Writer—Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lisa Armstrong—Journalist—Brooklyn, New York

Lynda Barry—Cartoonist—Footville, Wisconsin

Tarfia Faizullah—Poet—Dallas, Texas

Rebecca Gayle Howell—Poet—Lexington, Kentucky

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