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Metro Detroit literary and visual artists invited to apply for fellowships, emerging artist awards

General Foundation News

Metropolitan Detroit artists are invited to apply for a 2017 Kresge Artist Fellowship. Fellowships are funded by The Kresge Foundation and administered by Kresge Arts in Detroit at the College for Creative Studies.

Now in its ninth year, the program will award 18 Kresge Artist Fellowships – nine in Literary Arts and nine in Visual Arts – to artists living and working in metropolitan Detroit (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties). These fellowships are no-strings-attached $25,000 prizes given to both emerging and established artists whose commitment to artistic achievement, in contemporary or traditional forms, is evident in the quality of their work.  Fellowships also include a professional practice program, designed and delivered by Creative Many Michigan, which includes workshops, seminars and networking events. Since 2009, the professional practice program has brought over 148 esteemed national and international arts professionals to Detroit to work with fellows and the wider creative community.

Artist Gilda Snowden with painting in background
The late Gilda Snowden was in the first group of Kresge Artist Fellows in 2009. Gilda Awards of $5,000 are made in her honor for early-career artists who are gaining momentum and pushing the boundaries of their art form. 

In addition, two Gilda Awards, $5,000 no-strings-attached prizes solely for emerging artists, will also be awarded – one in Literary Arts and one in Visual Arts. Gilda Awards recognize artists who are early in their careers, are gaining momentum and who demonstrate exceptional potential through creative risk-taking and pushing the boundaries of their chosen art form. The awards were piloted in 2015 and are named in honor of Gilda Snowden (1954-2014), who was one of the 18 inaugural artists to receive a Kresge Artist Fellowship in 2009. Snowden served as Interim Chair and Professor of Fine Arts at the College for Creative Studies where she taught painting for more than 30 years.

“We began the fellows program with the goal of advancing the careers of artists living in Kresge’s hometown and to shine a light on the creativity that resides here,” said Kresge Detroit Program Senior Officer George Jacobsen. “Year after year we’re awe-struck by both the selected fellows’ depth of artistry and the evolving careers and achievements of past-years’ fellows.”  Kresge Arts in Detroit is supported through the foundation’s Detroit Program which collaborates with civic, nonprofit and business partners to promote long-term, equitable opportunity in Kresge’s hometown.

Since 2008, Kresge Arts in Detroit has awarded eight Kresge Eminent Artist Awards ($50,000 each), 144 Kresge Artist Fellowships ($25,000 each), and four Gilda Awards ($5,000 each) for a total of more than $4 million given directly to individual metro Detroit artists.

Literary artists working in the following disciplines are eligible to apply for a 2017 fellowship or Gilda award: arts criticism, creative nonfiction, fiction, graphic novels, poetry, spoken word, ‘zines, interdisciplinary work.

Visual artists working in these disciplines are eligible: book art, ceramics, collage, drawing, fiber, glass, installation, metalwork, new media, painting, photography, performance art, printmaking, sculpture, video art, interdisciplinary work.

“There are very limited opportunities for artists to receive direct financial support for their work, and unrestricted support is even more rare,” notes Christina deRoos, director of Kresge Arts in Detroit. “Through Kresge Arts in Detroit, The Kresge Foundation places $510,000, no-strings-attached, into the hands of metro Detroit artists each year. This unprecedented support enables artists to take risks in their work and to invest in the long-term stability of their lives. These are critical components of a thriving individual artistic practice, and of vibrant, sustainable arts and culture communities.”

In each category, fellows and Gilda Award recipients are selected by independent panels of distinguished local and national artists and arts professionals. Previous applicants are strongly encouraged to reapply. New panels are convened each year, bringing fresh perspectives to the review process. (The panels will select both Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Award recipients from the pool of fellowship applications. Artists submit one application for consideration for both.)

“I was selected for a fellowship after six years of applying,” says Desiree Cooper, 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow in Literary Arts. “Looking back, I realize that repeatedly applying helped me clarify who I am as an artist. The fellowship coincided with the publication of my first collection of fiction, and allowed me to put resources into the business side of my art: marketing, touring and promoting.” (Cooper’s Know the Mother was published in 2016 by Wayne State University Press.)

Fellowship applications are only available and submitted online. The online application opens on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 and must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. Guidelines and additional resources are available now at

Artists are strongly encouraged to attend the applicant workshops, which are designed to help artists submit competitive applications to Kresge Arts in Detroit as well as other sources of support for their creative careers.

  • Presenting strong work samples: Tuesday, Nov. 15, 6-8 p.m., Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit.
  • Intro to the application: Monday, Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m., Arab American National Museum, 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn.
  • Writing artist statements and resumes: Saturday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., The Jam Handy, 2900 E. Grand Blvd., Detroit (presented with Creative Many Michigan).
  • Application questions and answers: Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, 6-8 p.m., Grace in Action/Young Nation, 1725 Lawndale Street, Detroit.

Additional details on applicant workshops and RSVP links can be found at the Kresge Arts in Detroit site.