Congratulations to all 50 of the 2024 USA Fellows including NACF awardees Sgwaayaans TJ Young (Haida Nation), Kelly Church (Grand Traverse Band Ottawa Chippewa), New Red Order (Adam Khalil [Ojibway], Jackson Polys [Tlingit], Zack Khalil [Ojibway]), Ciara Lein’ala Lacy (Kanaka Maoli) and Cristóbal Martínez (Mestizo of the Genizaro, Pueblo, Manito, and Chicano heritages of Northern New Mexico), a member of awardee Postcommodity. The awardees will each receive $50,000 unrestricted cash awards, honoring their rich contributions to the cultural fabric of the country.
Many of these awardees NACF recognized when they were at earlier stages of their careers, and we are so incredibly proud of them.
This year notably also marks the first time USA is awarding two collaboratives in Visual Art in the same year, New Red Order and Fronterizx Collective.
“With this year’s cohort of USA Fellows, we are thrilled to support a group of artists who, in their diverse approaches and contexts, offer invaluable modes of healing, expression, and collaboration,” said Judilee Reed, President and CEO of United States Artists in a press release.
Launched in 2006, the USA Fellowship is United States Artists’ flagship program, through which it has distributed over $41 million to date to more than 850 creative practitioners. As an unrestricted award, the USA Fellowship embodies the organization’s commitment to unconditional support of artists, giving awardees the agency to allocate the funds however they chose, whether it be towards expanding their practices, paying rent, acquiring healthcare, or investing in their communities.
Find out more: www.unitedstatesartists.org
Sgwaayaans TJ Young (Haida Nation)
TJ Young, traditional name Sgwaayaans, first learned carving as a young teenager when his grandfather demonstrated the proper way to carve a functional halibut hook. Later Sgwaayaans and his older brother carved their first totem pole for their grandfather’s 90th birthday to honor him and their grandmother who had already passed. A couple of years later their great uncle asked them to carve one for him, which then led to another request from their tribal Chief, who also commissioned a small totem. Their work effort resulted in a revitalization of carving totems within their community.
As an NACF 2016 National Artist Fellow, Sgwaayaans led efforts in completing two eighteen foot clan totem poles for a community house in his village.
Kelly Church (Grand Traverse Band Ottawa Chippewa)
Kelly Church is an NACF 2015 National Artist Fellow. Currently in Michigan, the Emerald ash borer (EAB) is killing millions of black ash trees. Seriously concerned for the life of black ash trees, Kelly has taken additional responsibility and commitment to engage in the education, research and teaching of the tradition of black ash basket making to as many students, and as far and wide as possible—calling herself an Art Activist.
As a result of the environmental catastrophe being wreaked by the borer, Kelly’s creative ingenuity in her work reflects a mix of new and traditional materials—vinyl blinds, string, ribbon, photographs, and metals such as copper, brass, silver, and aluminum—and new basket styles.
New Red Order (Adam Khalil [Ojibway], Jackson Polys [Tlingit], Zack Khalil [Ojibway])
New Red Order (NRO) is a public secret society facilitated by core contributors Jackson Polys, Adam Khalil, and Zack Khalil. NRO is a 2021 SHIFT – Transformative Change Awardee. NRO works with networks of informants and accomplices to create grounds for Indigenous futures.
For their SHIFT project “Give It Back” they created a film, hosted an event and staged an exhibit in Queens, New York that enacts a collaborative formation in the ongoing development of a long-term Indigenous led movement to collectively devise strategies toward the transfer of land back to Indigenous people.
Ciara Lein’ala Lacy (Kanaka Maoli)
Filmmaker Ciera Lein’ala Lacy is an NACF 2018 National Artist Fellow and a 2021 SHIFT – Transformative Change Awardee. Ciara Lacy is driven by her commitment to social justice, representation, and the dynamic resilience of Native Hawaiian culture, centering strong characters and investigative journalism to challenge the creative and political status quo.
Ciera’s SHIFT project, “The Queen’s Flowers”, is a whimsical, animated short film designed to give Indigenous Hawaiian children an entertaining and empowering way to access their history. Based on a true story, the film delights in the relationship between a girl and the last monarch of the nation of Hawaii, Queen Lili`uokalani, evoking a magical and radical reclamation of history
Cristobal Martinez (Mestizo of the Genizaro, Pueblo, Manito, and Chicano heritages of Northern New Mexico)
As one-half of the artist collective Postcommodity, Cristobal Martinez, PhD along with Kade Twist (Cherokee) has received several awards from NACF throughout the years including the 2021 SHIFT – Transformative Change Award. Cristobal is an artist, publishing scholar, and Chair and Associate Professor of Art and Technology at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Postcommodity’s SHIFT project Cosmovisión is built around a musical instrument performed by four people simultaneously using joystick controllers, interactive video, and sound for co-determining relationships between land, community, and worldview; sonifying these relationships as a practice of Indigenous self-determination and meaning-making; and an Indigenous-led effort to advance Indigenous consciousness, diplomacy, and dialogue.