New York’s Art Matters Foundation, a nonprofit that has existed in various forms since the mid-1980s, announced its second round of Artist2Artist grant recipients last week. Unlike traditional grant programs, the foundation only chooses half of its 30 recipients: The 15 initial winners each choose another artist to receive a grant of equal size. The $7,500 stipends are unrestricted and can be used for anything, not just the creation of artwork.
Art Matters Foundation Director Abbey Williams says the program works to undo the “divisive competitive structures” perpetuated by philanthropic and nonprofit art institutions, and that the artist-as-giver model also allows the foundation to improve creators’ connections to each other.
This year, the program’s theme is precarity and care. Williams explained that the concept arose from conversations with last year’s grantees, who were concerned about their artistic and cultural practices amidst the pandemic and wondering how they could care for their children, elders, and communities. The 2022 recipients all serve as healers, activists, elders, or caregivers in addition to their roles as artists.
One of this year’s awardees is Jeremy Dennis, who grew up in the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, New York, and whose practice focuses on the cultural and societal roles of Shinnecock people today. Works such as “Sacredness of Hills” (2020) and the series Beach Access (2022) place Indigenous people into environments now associated with the Hamptons — a pool, a perfectly manicured lawn, a decadent marble terrace — and in direct confrontation with the White people who inhabit them, creating images that bring the truth of colonization into brutally honest focus. Last year, he received Hyperallergic‘s Emily H. Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, during which he penned articles and designed an email exhibition on Shinnecock artistic legacies and his evolving curatorial approach.
Another 2022 recipient is Viva Ruiz, a multimedia and performance artist who grew up in Queens. Since 2015, Ruiz has created Thank God for Abortion, a series that has become even more vital since the Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade in June. In a work staged at the Vatican in Rome, Ruiz co-opts the aesthetic traditions of the Catholic Church to offer an ironic commentary on abortion, which the Church condemns. Other works in the series depict the titular phrase on banners during collective actions, and in one iteration, Ruiz creates a telenovela pilot of the same name.
“Art Matters has always prioritized process and practice over projects and products, so it’s an extension of those long-held values,” Williams said of choosing to support artists who serve caregiving roles in their communities. “But also the value in supporting those who fall outside of traditional support is that they can begin to leverage our support.”
The complete list of 2022 grant recipients is as follows: Panteha Abareshi, Rena Anakwe, Joss Barton, Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, Ezra Benus, illx / Pablo Varona Borges, Tiffany Chung, Shani Peters & Joseph Cuillier (The Black School), Jeremy Dennis, devynn emory, Amara Abdal Figueroa, Daesha Devón Harris, Nicole Hall (IdentityInc!), Axel Eden, Paul John, Tish Jones, M. Carmen Lane (ATNSC), Wit López, Abdul-Aliy A. Muhammad, Ilknur Ozgur (Artstillery), phlegm, Chef Sherry Pocknett (Sly Fox Den), Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Dr. Treasure Shields Redmond (Fannie Lou Hamer House), Viva Ruiz, Lady Shug, Jaiko Suzuki, Brian Walker II, Allison Akootchook Warden, and Tassiana Willis.