Powering artistic growth and magnifying the Native voice

At its heart, the Artist Fellowship initiative is built around the fact that in order for any artist to succeed creatively, they need time, space, and financial support to cultivate their creative process, improve their craft, explore new concepts and, for some, take risks that they might not have had the capacity to take otherwise. Native artists in particular struggle with a lack of equal opportunity in the arts and culture sector, reflected in the mere 0.2% of all national arts funding which reaches them each year. By offering Fellowships, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation proactively strengthens the ecosystem of support for Native artists, enabling them to generate more artistic work, live sustainable lives, and contribute to their communities.

Goals of the Artist Fellowship Initiative

  • Power the artistic growth and magnify the voices of Native artists through the development of new works or completing projects in motion
  • Increase recognition and visibility for Native artists in national and international arenas

How the Initiative Works

Following a national open call for applicants, Artist Fellows are selected by a rigorous process mediated by Native Arts and Cultures Foundation staff, and led by discipline-specific volunteer panel reviewers. Following Board of Directors approval, Fellows are awarded an unrestricted grant to support their work on identified projects for one year. NACF staff check in with Fellows throughout their Fellowship year and beyond, to provide customized assistance to our range of emerging and advanced artists. For example, this could mean digital promotion, or opportunities to speak at national/regional conferences and panels. In 2017, the NACF held its first convening of National Artist Fellows to further our role as a catalyst for Native artists, communities, organizations, and the work they do.

Thank You Initiative Partners

The National Artist Fellowships are made possible with support from the Ford Foundation, Second Sister Foundation and the generosity of arts patrons. Our Visual Arts Fellows are made possible through support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

In 2017, the NACF convened over twenty of its National Artist Fellows for the first time, for two days of creativity, connectivity and cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary inspiration as indigenous artists in Portland, Ore.

NACF 2018 National Artist Fellows

Allison Akootchook Warden

Interdisciplinary hip-hop artist Allison Warden of Anchorage, Alaska engages her audience with stories of the Iñupiaq people, putting a contemporary spin on tradition.

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Bently Spang

Installation, performance and video artist Bently Spang blends the sacred and seemingly mundane to interpret contemporary life as an Tsistsistas (Northern Cheyenne) man from his studio in Billings, Montana.

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Brian Adams

Brian Adams captures vivid portraits of contemporary life in the North, using photography to document the beauty and complexity of Indigenous life.

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Cary Morin

Cary Morin (Crow) is a songwriter, fingerstyle guitarist, vocalist, and recording artist who excels in live performance and storytelling.

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Ciara Leina`ala Lacy

Filmmaker Ciara Leina`ala Lacy (Kanaka Maoli) is driven by her commitment to social justice, representation, and Native Hawaiian culture.

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Courtney M. Leonard

The works of ceramicist and multimedia artist Courtney M. Leonard are a response to ongoing issues of environmental sustainability and cultural viability.

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Elizabeth Woody

Elizabeth Woody’s vivid and powerful poetry conveys the immediate impact of a brilliant intellect and an astounding use of language.

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Frank Waln

Frank Waln (Sicangu Lakota) is an Indigenous American rapper, songwriter and activist from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

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Heid E. Erdrich

Writer, storyteller, poet and multidisciplinary artist Heid E. Erdrich reaches audiences through her voice as a woman from both Ojibwe and American cultures.

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Jeff Peterson

Jeff Peterson is a slack key guitarist, composer, and educator. He studies and shares the rich history of Hawaiian music across generations.

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Jim Denomie

Painter and multimedia artist Jim Denomie (Ojibwe) portrays historical, political and social issues with sly humor and an eye-popping palette.

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Kalani Pe’a

Kalani Pe’a is a songwriter and vocalist who celebrates his Native Hawaiian language and heritage through music and visual arts.

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Linda Infante Lyons

The work of visual artist Linda Infante Lyons (Alutiiq) is a quietly subversive act intended to achieve an element of decolonization.

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Luci Tapahonso

Writer Luci Tapahonso (Diné [Navajo]) is the inaugural Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation and uses language to honor the rich legacy of the Diné people.

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Marques Hanalei Marzan

Fiber artist Marques Hanalei Marzan has dedicated his career to continual exploration, perpetuation, and innovation around Native Hawaiian arts.

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Melissa S. Cody

Melissa S. Cody is a fourth generation Navajo weaver and textile artist who pushes the boundaries of a traditional art form with vivid colors and sharp geometric overlays.

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Michael Wasson

Writer Michael Wasson (Nimíipuu) sees poetry as his calling to create space for Indigenous artists – not merely in the Western canon, but as a counterweight to its violence and legacy.

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Pōhaku Kaho`ohanohano

Pōhaku Hano Kaho`ohanohano, a practitioner and preservationist of traditional Native Hawaiian weaving, weaves and teaches from his studio on family land in Kahakuloa.

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RYAN! Feddersen

RYAN! Feddersen is a mixed-media installation artist specializing in immersive artworks that invite viewers to engage intellectually and creatively.

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