Of 50 fellows selected for United States Artists Fellowships this year, only two are painters: Barkley L. Hendricks, and Rodney McMillian. According to Hamza Walker’s summary of the selection process, “there was unbridled zaniness, calculated zaniness, and garden-variety zaniness. There was no-punches-pulled politics, and there was formalism for formalism’s sake. Questions of race, gender, and age were ultimately folded into, if not outright overshadowed by, the eclectic nature of the work. Given the heterogeneous nature of the applicant pool, ‘diversity’ need not have been an explicit mandate. At the end of the day, when the list of finalists was drawn up, there was no mention of race, age, career level, or gender. It was only over the issue of region that diversity reared its head. My sense, however, is that the burgeoning network of regional artist awards will make this anything but a systemic problem.”
United States Artists (USA) is a grant-making, artist-advocacy organization dedicated to supporting American artists working across diverse disciplines. After decades of dwindling public support, USA gives unrestricted cash grants of $50,000 to 50 individual artists each year.
Panelists included Valerie Cassel Oliver, Curator, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Aimee Chang, Director, Academic and Residency Programs, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Adam D. Weinberg(chair), Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Hamza Walker, Director of Education and Associate Curator, The Renaissance Society, Chicago; Daniel Joseph Martinez, Artist and USA Broad Fellow 2007, Los Angeles. Read more.