Back to News

Grants totaling $351,000 awarded in new program’s funding for Pittsburgh-based artists

PITTSBURGH, February 3, 2022 – The Heinz Endowments has announced the first funding for its new Creative Development Awards, an annual grantmaking program that celebrates our region’s professional artists, with a special focus on those whose artistic achievements show great promise. Grants totaling $351,000 will support the work of 14 artists, including a series of installations in a historic coal chute in Pittsburgh’s Mexican War Streets; new classical and jazz recordings from critically acclaimed musicians; and year-long artist residencies at six major performance and education sites. 
The artists and organizations receiving grants represent a diverse range of artistic disciplines, including animation, photography, theater and metalsmithing. The grantees were selected from more than 80 applicants by a group of nine regional and national artists and educators. 

The Creative Development Awards program, announced in summer of last year, aims to help advance grantees’ careers through increased visibility, professional partnership opportunities, and financial assistance. Grant amounts in the program’s inaugural cohort range from just under $20,000 for individual artists to $35,000 for artist residency collaborations with regional venues. 

“The Creative Development Awards are guided by our belief that our region’s professional artists are central to its quality of life,” said Endowments Vice President of Creativity Janet Sarbaugh. “From independent art studios to the talent that fuels performance and exhibition venues both large and small, our artists bring beauty, interpret and challenge our culture, and create dialogue and connections that make our everyday lives better.” 

The 2022 Investing in Creative Development Award grant recipients are:

N.E. Brown ($15,000) to support the completion of an Allegheny County living and working artist studio space to allow expansion of her woodburning, woodworking, painting and drawing art practice, including community art initiatives. Ms. Brown’s work holds intersectional meanings that often entwine multiple symbols of race, history, and personal memories. 

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh ($35,000) to support an artist residency with Shohei Katayama, a Japanese-American artist whose work examines the underlying patterns of nature by showcasing unseen relationships in ecology. This partnership will blend Mr. Katayama’s creative practice, rooted in sensory experience and empathy, with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s aim of subverting traditional museum approaches that can disconnect young audiences from art. 

City Theatre Company ($22,324) to support an artist residency with musician and composer Theron Brown. The residency will include the regional premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s play “Paradise Blue” for which Mr. Brown will create an original score in collaboration with Manchester Craftsman’s Guild and a concert featuring his own work and excerpts from the score. 

Contemporary Craft ($35,000) to support a nine-month artist residency with Tereneh Idia, whose “C3” project will examine a history of the cloth, culture and community of Black Pittsburgh. This new body of work will explore the less familiar cultural knowledge of those in our region with African ancestry and of the African diaspora in Western Pennsylvania.  

James Duesing ($20,000) for support of "Adulting," an animated short film structured around first-person narratives collaboratively created by a diverse group of LGBTQ+ people. Mr. Duesing’s work includes a multitude of animation forms, from traditional hand drawn and early digital work to 3D and motion capture projects, and has been exhibited and broadcast on platforms around the world, including PBS, the Sundance Film Festival, MTV and The Learning Channel.

FashionAFRICANA ($35,000) for a residency with multi-media Rwandan artist Cedric Mizero. The three-month residency envisions building linkages between African American and African creatives through fashion and art, which will lead to a presentation of new work as part of FestivalAFRICANA 2022, produced by nationally recognized arts leader Demeatria Boccella.

LaVerne Kemp ($19,849) to support the opening of her first fiber arts studio, including equipment and supplies; teaching and instruction; event/studio assistance; and marketing and professional services. Ms. Kemp’s work is a mixture of contemporary and traditional folk weaving combined with influences from African cultures and often takes the form of large, rope-based sculptural trees.

Ed Panar ($19,750) to complete his photography series “Winter Nights, Walking,” which will culminate in a published photobook monograph, an exhibition of digital and analog photographic prints, and winter-themed video projection. The Pittsburgh-specific project highlights the unique qualities of recent winter seasons in the region, including the effects of a changing climate and the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Pittsburgh Glass Center ($35,000) for a residency and culminating exhibition that brings artist Mikael Owunna’s “Infinite Essence” series to life in 3-dimensional space.  Traditional figurative glass sculpture will be paired with ultraviolet technology and fluorescent painting techniques the artist has developed as a photographer and engineer. Mr. Owunna’s work seeks to elucidate an emancipatory vision of possibility that pushes Black people beyond all boundaries, restrictions, and frontiers.

Pittsburgh Public Theater ($35,000) for support of a residency with theatrical director, actor, and teacher Justin Emeka, including his direction of the spring 2022 production of August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running.” Activities built around the production include engagement events between Black artists, predominantly Black communities, and Black-led and serving organizations in the Hill District and surrounding areas in an effort to further contextualize “Two Trains Running” in the community in which it is set. 

Clara Kent ($20,000) to support the live production of her album "AURA: Reimagined" in collaboration with the Kelly Strayhorn Theater and to support the official launch of community Black-owned production company Bounce House Studios & Productions, which will produce virtual and live events featuring Black artists.

Rachel Sager ($20,000) to support and expand the artist's fine art mosaic practice through in-depth exploration of the medium of metalsmithing. Ms. Sager’s work – including The Ruins Project, a long-term mosaic art installation amidst the ruins of a former coal mine in Fayette County, Pennsylvania – has gained international interest, and in her words, “digs deep into the earth itself to tell stories in stone.”

Timothy Stoddard ($19,150) for support to commission, workshop and record an album of new works for the classical tenor voice. Mr. Stoddard aims to bring new focus to modern composers, believing their works “allow people of all walks of life, color, identity, sexuality, and gender to tell stories that the Western canon of classical music hasn't afforded in its history.”

Imin Yeh ($20,000) for a year of monthly commissioned exhibitions at The Chute, an installation space in a historic cast-iron coal chute in the Mexican War Streets on Pittsburgh’s North Side, and for the documentation, design, printing and distribution of “Dreamcabin,” a book project with more than 40 contributing artists. Ms. Yeh’s projects often explore the issues around the unseen labor and production that lies behind everyday objects.

Panelists who assisted in determining Creative Development Awards finalists and grantees were: 
•    Tony Buba, filmmaker and founder of Braddock Films
•    Andrés Franco, executive director of City of Asylum and former Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra        conductor
•    Monteze Freeland, playwright and co-artistic director of City Theatre Company
•    Andrew Lampert, film, video and performance producer 
•    Jessica Moss, artist and curator
•    Renee Piechocki, artist and public art consultant
•    Ian Russell, artistic director for the Mattress Factory
•    Tammy Ryan, writer and resident playwright at New Dramatists
•    Marvin Touré, installation artist, sculptor and artist in residence at Alma|Lewis 

Key factors considered in determining grant recipients included quality of the artists’ current body of work, potential of future work, and clear articulation of artistic and career development goals. Professional artists who had a significant body of original works of art, were at least 21 years of age or older, and were a resident of an eligible southwestern Pennsylvania county were allowed to apply.  

The program will award one cohort of grants annually, and is one of the few grantmaking programs in the region that directly funds artists. Program details and guidelines may be found here


Contact: Scott Roller
The Heinz Endowments