The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University has announced the award of additional support to artists for the 2020-21 academic year through the Mary MacKall Gwinn Hodder Fund. These grants recognize the particular challenges the COVID-19 pandemic have had on artists. The awards are intended to support the ten selected artists in continuing to advance their work in this environment. The selected artists are theater director Lileana Blain-Cruz, visual artist Onyedika Chuke, interdisciplinary director Mark DeChiazza, choreographer Marjani Forte, actor and performing artist Jennifer Kidwell, composer and musician Aurora Nealand, poet and journalist Maya Phillips, writer and translator Aaron Robertson, choreographer Katy Pyle, and visual artist Paula Wilson.
The Hodder Fund was established in the 1940s to provide artists and humanists in the early stages of their careers an opportunity to undertake significant new work. Hodder Fellows may be writers, composers, choreographers, visual artists, performance artists, or other kinds of artists or humanists who have, as the program outlines, “much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts.” In the regular cycle of Fellowship grants, artists from anywhere may apply in the early fall each year for the following academic year. Past Hodder Fellows have included novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, choreographer Nora Chipaumire, filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu, poet Eduardo Corral, playwrights Will Eno and Tarell Alvin McCraney, and visual artist Mario Moore, among many others. In recent years as many as five full Fellowships have been awarded from substantial and competitive applicant pools. The Hodder Fellows previously selected for the 2020-21 academic year are Kim Brandt, Amir ElSaffar, Kimber Lee, Troy Michie, and Casey Plett.
The arts sector and artists have been hard-hit by the restrictions that have been necessary during the pandemic. Artists have suffered from losses in income opportunities and sales of work and a nearly complete cessation of processes to develop new work and collaborate in-person, even as they have invested time and creative capital into finding ways to move their work into an online environment.
This special round of smaller grants, awarded by the Lewis Center’s chair and program directors along with the Department of Music chair, recognizes emerging artists whose work, in keeping with the Hodder tradition, demonstrates “much more than ordinary” promise.
“In this moment of national reckoning,” said Tracy K. Smith, Chair of the Lewis Center, “I’m reminded that the ability to imagine the world anew is vital to our survival as a collective. It’s our hope that this award will afford these exceptional artists a bit of time—and belief—to keep at it, for all of our sakes.”
Paula Wilson was born in Chicago and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University and a B.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. Wilson’s artworks are in the collections of The Studio Museum in Harlem, Yale University, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, The Rubell Family Collection, The New York Public Library, and The Fabric Workshop & Museum. She has been featured in publications such as Hyperallergic, Artforum, The New York Times, The Brooklyn Rail, and The New Yorker. She is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Artist Grant and the Bob and Happy Doran Fellowship at Yale University. Wilson is based in Carrizozo, New Mexico, where she is co-founder of the artist organizations MoMAZoZo and the Carrizozo Artist in Residency (AIR). She said, “The Hodder grant not only gives me the means, but also the unrestricted encouragement, to pursue the creative endeavors that mean the most to me.”
As with the Hodder Fellowships, these grants only require that the artists continue advancing their work and making the most of their creative potential.
To learn more about the Hodder Fellows, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and the more than 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts and lectures presented each year, most of them free, visit arts.princeton.edu.