The 2018 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships

Contributed by Sharon Butler / This year hardworking panelists Julia Whitney Barnes (Dutchess), Franklin Evans (New York), Elliot Green (Columbia), Sarah McCoubrey (Onondaga), and Mie Yim (Kings) selected the The New York Foundation for the Arts painting fellowship recipients from a staggeringly large pool of 3,071 applicants. Each artist will receive a cash grant of $7,000, and the three finalists — Jordan CasteelClayton Schiff, and Don Voisine — will each receive prestige and a few other benefits, but no funding. In the 32 years that NYFA has been awarding the fellowships, $31 million has been distributed, which sounds like a lot until you consider the economic benefits artists have brought to so many New York communities over the years. The state should consider expanding the program. Here are images and links for the 2018 NYFA grant recipients, some thoughts about the selection, and a bit of advice for painters who didn’t receive funding this year.

Samira Abbassy (New York)
Maria Berrio (Kings)
Gabe Brown (Ulster)
Tom Burckhardt (New York)
Ginny Casey (Kings)
Elizabeth Colomba (New York)
Lisa Corinne Davis (Kings)
Lydia Dona (New York)
Donise English (Dutchess)
Derek Fordjour (New York) / Selected as a Deutsche Bank Fellow
Clarity Haynes (Kings)
Vera Iliatova (Kings)
Julian Kreimer (Kings)
Joel Longenecker (Dutchess)
Kathryn Lynch (New York)
Sangram Majumdar (Kings)
Tracy Miller (Kings)
Patrick Neal (New York)
David Opdyke (Queens)
Paul Pagk (New York)
Luisa Rabbia (Kings)
Gretchen Scherer (Kings)
Emily Mae Smith (Kings)
Michael Stamm (Kings)
Amy Talluto (Ulster)
Leslie Wayne (New York)
Deborah Zlotsky (Albany)

Among the panelists it seems that a narrow definition of painting prevailed. Image, design, and enigmatic narrative overshadowed process-based, eccentric materiality, and conceptual approaches. Figurative painting and geometric abstraction are well represented, but messier, more challenging image-object, text-based, and expanded installation approaches were roundly shut out.

The advice winners and panelists usually give to unsuccessful applicants is not to take it personally, to make sure the images submitted are of excellent quality, and to keep applying. I would add that for those painters who need funding to realize a specific project, applying for fiscal sponsorship through NYFA or Fractured Atlas and developing a crowdsourced fundraising campaign might be a viable route. Please don’t let a lack of government recognition and sponsorship deter you from challenging the status quo.

Congratulations to the talented 2018 NYFA fellows and finalists, and best wishes to all the painters, especially the under-recognized and uncompensated, who continue to work in their studios. They are the ones who make the New York art community the most stimulating place on the planet.

Related posts:
Leslie Wayne: Beyond painterly
Art and Film: Stefan Zweig and the artist’s abdication
Politics and abstract painting: Matthew Deleget at OUTLET
Double feature: Artists and politics
Art and politics spiral downhill at the Guggenheim
In transition: Regina Bogat in the 1990s




  1. It’s always personal!

  2. Feels like the 1950s again.

  3. Everything the jurists chose looks truly competent, and the painters all seem talented. Yet nothing–not the abstraction, not the figuration, not the surrealism–carries the element of aesthetic (as opposed to “content”) surprise. My own take is that art in a democratic age inevitably moves to a middle ground. It’s not terrible; it’s just the way things go.

  4. I do so appreciate seeing the winner’s redoubtable achievements presented together, and likewise reading the sensible and soothing afterwords … Thank you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *