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Creative Development Awards fund colorful slate of projects by Pittsburgh-based artists

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 1, 2023 – Pittsburgh artists spotlighting those living with accessibility challenges, exposing the effects of the war in Ukraine on Russian children, or helping youth learn to produce music by arranging and performing orchestral versions of hip-hop and pop songs are among the 15 new recipients of The Heinz Endowments’ Creative Development Awards.

The artists and organizations receiving grants, totaling $296,450, represent a diverse range of artistic disciplines, including filmmaking, photography, theater, and 3D-printed sculpture. The grantees were selected from nearly 90 applicants by a group of 11 regional and national artists and educators.

The Endowments launched the annual Creative Development Awards in 2022 to celebrate the region’s professional artists, with a special focus on those whose artistic achievements show great promise. The announcement of the 2023 awardees brings the program’s support of regional artists to a total of $647,000 in the past 13 months.

The Creative Development Awards aim to help advance grantees’ careers through increased visibility, professional partnership opportunities and financial assistance. Grant amounts in the program’s latest cohort range from $8,000 for individual artists to $35,000 for artist residency collaborations with regional venues.

“The art that enriches our daily lives is all around us, from the sculptures in our parks to the artists living and creating in our neighborhoods,” said Mac Howison, the Endowments’ Creativity program officer. “The artists and organizations funded by the Creative Development Awards are shining light on Pittsburgh’s triumphs and challenges; amplifying their deep connection to both our city and the world at large; and bringing insight, joy and beauty to all in our region.”

The 2023 Investing in Creative Development Awards recipients are:

Melissa Catanese ($20,000) to support production of a book, image prints and an installation of “The Lottery.” Inspired by the classic Shirley Jackson short story of the same name, the work merges photographic images of the distant past with mixed media depictions of the present into a psychological fiction centered around physical, political and ecological trauma.

Natalie Condrac ($9,285) to fund the creation of a 3D house, furnished inside and out, allowing viewers to look through the windows and view the interior. Influenced by Pittsburgh’s intertwined neighborhoods, Ms. Condrac’s intricately detailed work explores the infinite possibilities of what goes on behind the doors and walls of our daily lives.

Karina Dandashi ($18,000) to support two film projects: “Out of Water” and “Cousins.” Ms. Dandashi’s films explore nuances in identity through the intersection of family, religion and culture in Southwest Asian and North African countries, and Muslim communities in America.

Film Pittsburgh ($35,000) to support an artist residency with filmmaker Gregory Williams for post-production work on his documentary film, "Warriors." Mr. Williams’ film intertwines the story of a Pittsburgh teen who had never before joined a protest, but very much wanted to, with images and documentary footage from protests that previously took place in Pittsburgh.

Petra Floyd ($20,000) to support the development of “Audio.belisk,” a sonification of the sculpture “Five Factors” in Pittsburgh’s Mellon Park by artist Peter Calaboyias. The sculpture’s storied history includes an installation on the roof of the Carnegie Library parking garage in Squirrel Hill and a 20-year, post-restoration disappearance before it was found in a city warehouse in 2006. Mx. Floyd will transform the sculpture into an instrument and speaker using acoustic tools, enabling the public to “play” the sculpture.

Guardians of Sound ($35,000) to support Idasa Tariq’s creative, performance and teaching artist role with Hip Hop Orchestra for one year. Hip Hop Orchestra is a music performance and education project for youth ages 9 to 19 that combines current mainstream music with acoustic and orchestral instruments to teach music composition, arrangement, performance and production.

Owen Lowery ($11,715) for development of artwork prioritizing people living with accessibility situations. The multi-disciplinary artist’s “Access” project will include a series of interactive installations featuring mediums of accessible communication such as braille, sign language, text-to-speech, haptic feedback, and morse code.

Bryan Martello ($20,000) to support completion of “The Front Yard,” a series of ephemeral black-and-white photographs that meditate on themes of pride, political rhetoric, and flexibility of history. Mr. Martello’s art combines photography printed on fabric with attached found objects to illuminate the dichotomies between private and public, the utilitarian and the decorative, and vulnerability and pride.

Darrin Milliner ($8,000) to support professional studio space at Pittsburgh’s Redfishbowl Studios and an immersive solo art exhibit. Mr. Milliner’s work incorporates digital and analog collage, painting and illustration, and aims to absorb various cultural and social subjects that spark emotion and action.

New Hazlett Center for the Performing Arts ($35,000) to support a residency with Dr. Jason Méndez to write and produce the play "Sons of the Boogie,” which explores the changes a Puerto Rican writer’s former Bronx neighborhood has experienced from the golden age of hip-hop in the 1990s to the present day, focusing on “the beauty and sacredness of home.”

Emily Newman ($16,500) for support of a film about Russian children affected by the war in Ukraine. Informed by a summer 2022 trip to Armenia to meet exiled families, the film will tap into the children’s imaginary landscapes and their poetic and artistic interpretations of their experiences, with an aim of informing the world of the effects of war on the young.

Felicity Palma ($20,000) to support research, production, studio materials and equipment to create an experimental film that examines the effects of cancer treatment on a young working-class woman’s body. Through her art, Ms. Palma utilizes personal experiences to spur wider cultural and social conversations about feminism, health, class and alienation.

Mathew Rosenblum ($12,350) to support an audio recording of a new contemporary classical music work, "We Lived Happily During the War.” Influenced by Ilya Kaminsky’s poem of the same name, Mr. Rosenblum’s Ukrainian heritage, and the isolation, pain and political inaction he witnessed during the pandemic, the work will be released with an accompanying interpretive video.

Sharrell Rushin ($15,600) to hire models to stage custom reference photos for use in prepping upcoming paintings, allowing her to lessen dependance on found images and stock photos and create art that highlights a wider variety of skin tones, textures and color palettes. The funding will also enable construction of uniquely shaped canvases and cover the cost of six months of studio rent and art supplies.

Marvin Touré ($20,000) to secure a two-year, fixed lease of a customized studio with industrial ventilation to facilitate safe creation of his sculptures, which often include thermoplastic adhesives, silicone and resins. His art incorporates and transforms figures, games and imagery associated with childhood, spurring dialogues around memory and empathy.

Panelists who assisted in determining Creative Development Awards finalists and grantees were:

  • Ian Brill, artist and Penn State University digital art instructor
  • Daniel Byers, director of Harvard University’s John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Carpenter Center for Visual Arts
  • Reginald Douglas, artistic director, Mosaic Theater
  • Kimberly El-Harris, playwright, actor, director and educator
  • Madeline Gent, executive director, Associated Artists of Pittsburgh
  • Sam Helfrich, theater and opera director
  • Staycee Pearl, co-artistic director, PearlArts
  • Xan Phillips, poet, writer and visual artist
  • Richard Purcell, associate professor of English, director of Arts Greenhouse at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Maria Sensi Sellner, artistic and general director of Resonance Works
  • William Shannon, choreographer, dancer and interdisciplinary artist

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 awards 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
artist images available upon request