It's an exciting night for the Bush Foundation, and for 18 regional artists.
The foundation is presenting its annual Enduring Vision Awards to three, established, mid-career artists, which includes a check for $100,000. The Enduring Vision is the only award of this size and intent in the country.
The goal of the Enduring Vision awards is to support artists at a time in their careers when they're often neglected by funders. The money is intended to carry them through what could be the most productive part of their lives, when they're in their 50's, 60's and beyond.
In addition, the foundation is choosing 15 artists for fellowships that include checks for $50,000.
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In total, that's $1,050,000.
While the ceremony is underway at the Minneapolis Central Library, you don't have to be there to find out the winners.
This year's Enduring Vision Awards go to Lakota collage artist Arthur D. Amiotte, Lao weaver Bounxou Chanthraphone. and photographer Paul Shambroom.
Collage art by Arthur D. Amiotte
Arthur D. Amiotte is a Lakota artist and art historian. Born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Amiotte captures and preserves the history and culture of the Sioux people in his collages, incorporating images and text from his great-grandfather, the artist Standing Bear. Amiotte documents the changes his people had to make to adapt to farming, ranching and the reservation lifestyle. Amiotte has lived and worked at Claude Monet's residence in Giverny, France and has received two previous awards from the Bush Foundation.
Detail of a weaving by Bounxou Chanthraphone
Bounxou Daoheuang Chanthraphone emigrated to the U.S. in 1982 after years of living in a refugee camp. A native of Laos, Chanthraphone learned weaving from her mother and grandmother. But as war tore apart her country in the 1970s, she fled for Thailand. Not just a survivor, she spent her time in Ubon Refugee Camp teaching other women to weave, enabling them to earn a living. She and the other women eventually raised enough money to build a school for refugee children. Here in the United States Chanthraphone has continued to contribute to society, teaching traditional Lao weaving to youth and adults, and helping found a Lao community center in her home of Brooklyn Park.
Photograph by Paul Shambroom
Photographer Paul Shambroom has spent over 20 years documenting democracy, security and power, taking viewers from small-town meeting halls to missile silos to training facilities where First Responders prepare for anticipated terrorist attacks. Shambroom's work often involves letter-writing campaigns to grant him - and his camera - access to places most citizens would never otherwise see. In the process of documenting America's pre-occupation with protecting itself, Shambroom raises questions about fear, safety and liberty. Currently Shambroom is exploring the use of decommissioned military weapons as shrines for those who died in combat.
While the Enduring Vision Awards provide established artists with a certain measure of stability to continue along a path they've created for themselves, Bush fellowships for emerging artists often give them the step up to help figure out where exactly they're headed.
This year's fellows include 15 different artists or artistic teams who focus on visual arts, media arts, and traditional, functional crafts.
Artist Nate Young
Nate Young is a multimedia artist who works with whatever materials seems to fit the occasion, whether it's video, drawing, textiles or a performance piece. Young says getting a fellowship means he'll be able to work for more extended periods of time, not just two to four hour bursts.
It's a little bit of freedom - life is hectic. I'm an artist, I work a day job to support my art, and then I'm a single parent. Having a Bush fellowship means I get to focus more on the art for a while.
Young says he wants to use his newly found "breathing room" to work on making his artistic career more sustainable. That means finding a permanent space to work in, and maybe creating a gallery space/cooperative with other artists.
Mosaic artist and muralist Lori Greene
Lori Greene runs "Mosaic on a Stick" in St. Paul. Working with volunteers she's decorated several large planters along Snelling Avenue with colorful mosaics. She says one of the things she wants to do is to add a non-profit arm onto her business, to enable her to do more community projects on a larger scale.
I've already created a community space here, but I'd really like to be able to offer it to everybody at every income level and maybe create some kind of training system so people can develop a skill they don't have that provides more work or a new opportunity.
Greene is inspired by places like the Village of Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia and Project Row Houses in Houston. Both are "art villages" that combine arts activiities, social services and housing to create community through an active celebration of art and culture.
It should be noted that while the Bush Foundation is giving away more than a million dollars to individual artists this year, it has cut its Regional Arts Development Program, which has given close to $20 million to mid-size arts organizations since it was created in 1996.