The Kennedy Center VSA Emerging Young Artists Program seeks visual artwork that demonstrates the excellence and important perspectives of artists with disabilities, ages 16–25, residing in the United States. 15 artists will share a total of $60,000 in awards, with a grand prize of $20,000. For winning artists, one of the submitted artworks will be selected for a national exhibition. As a cohort, the artists will attend professional development activities provided by the Kennedy Center, gaining skills and tools to craft sustaining careers as artists. 

The theme for this year’s contest is Merge, which invites artists to consider the intersections and combinations of their creative process and disability identity. In art, the juxtaposition of ideas can blur distinctions or reveal something new. Merge asks artists to explore uniting paths and ask what we can learn when it all comes together.

The application deadline is May 5, 2021, at 11:59pm (EDT). All eligibility details can be found on the application page. To apply, complete the application and submit up to six pieces.

If you have any questions about the program or the application process, please email

Volkswagen Group of America is the VSA Emerging Young Artists Program Presenting Sponsor.

A Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program.

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