“Cats Cradle” (2020), a work by 2021 Illuminations Grant finalist Glori Tuitt (all images courtesy Queer|Art)

Applications for the Queer|Art Illuminations Grant, a $10,000 annual award given to a Black trans woman or trans femme visual artist, are open through June 12. This is the grant’s third year.

Queer|Art is a New York nonprofit founded in 2009 to “support a generation of LGBTQ+ artists that lost mentors to the AIDS Crisis of the 1980s,” according to the organization’s website. In addition to giving a variety of awards, Queer|Art provides a year-long mentorship program and holds events like exhibitions, film screenings, performances, and panel discussions that highlight the work of LGBTQ+ artists. 

“I’m searching for & from freedom” (2021), a work by 2021 finalist Golden

“The Illuminations Grant not only highlights the lacking representation of Black trans women in the visual arts but also seeks to confront the systemic barriers that deny them artistic opportunities and a sustainable craft,” said Aaryn Lang in a statement. Lang, a vocal champion of the Black transgender community, helped develop the Illuminations Grant alongside artist Serena Jara and the grant’s funder, photographer Mariette Pathy Allen.

In 2020, Brooklyn-based artist Keioui Keijaun received the Illuminations Grant and last year, New Orleans-based artist Lee Laa Ray Giullory won the award. Giullory uses meticulously staged and altered photography to explore Black mysticism and Black femme identities in rural Louisiana.

Lee Laa Ray Giullory, “The Sound of a Mother’s Daughter” (2021)

The winners are selected by a panel of three judges, which this year included artist Jonathan Lyndon Chase, curator and author Kimberly Drew, and performer and fashion illustrator Connie Fleming.

Qualifying mediums for the Illuminations Grant include painting and drawing, sculpture and ceramics, printmaking, photography, and fiber arts, but video mediums will also be considered.

The winner will receive $10,000 and career development resources, and four finalists will receive $1,250. The winner will be announced in September. The application can be accessed on Queer | Art’s website, here.

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.