2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Program Recipients and Finalists Announced

Tarrytown Resident Rebeca Tomas Recognized for Her Work in Choreography

Photo: Maly Blomberg

New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) has announced the recipients and finalists of the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Program, which it has administered for the past 33 years with leadership support from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). The organization has awarded a total of $661,000 to 98 artists (including three collaborations) whose ages range from 25-76 years throughout New York State in the following disciplines: Architecture/Environmental Structures/Design, Choreography, Music/Sound, Photography, and Playwriting/Screenwriting. Fifteen finalists, who do not receive a cash award but benefit from a range of other NYFA services, were also announced. A complete list of the Fellows and Finalists follows.

The NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Program makes unrestricted cash grants of $7,000 to artists working in 15 disciplines, awarding five per year on a triennial basis. The program is highly competitive, and this year’s recipients and finalists were selected by discipline-specific peer panels from an applicant pool of 2,542.

Among this year’s NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellows is Rebeca Tomas, a Tarrytown resident who was recognized for her work in Choreography.

Rebeca has been described as “awesomely fiery” (New York Times), “masterful” (Eva YaaAsentawaa), and “a postcard image of the feminine Flamenco dancer” (Kansas City Metropolis). After performing with such companies as Noche Flamenca and Flamenco Vivo, she founded A Palo Seco Flamenco Company (2010), for which she directs and choreographs her own original productions. An up and coming voice in the U.S. Flamenco community, her productions have been proclaimed “a feast for the eyes and the ears” (Theatre Online). For her choreographic work, Tomas has received support from Arts Westchester, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Jerome Foundation, Connecticut Office of the Arts, and was awarded a 2013 fellowship in choreography by the New York Foundation for the Arts. Tomas and company have performed throughout the U.S. at venues such as Central Park Summer Stage, (le) Poisson Rouge, the Chicago Flamenco Festival, Eastman School of Music’s World Music Series, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Pocantico Center, and the New Victory Theater.

Since it was launched in 1985, the program has awarded over $31 million to more than 5,000 artists. This year, thanks to the generous support of photography nonprofit Joy of Giving Something, NYFA was able to award an additional five Fellowships in Photography, which has the largest application pool of any Fellowship category.

“We are grateful to NYSCA for this annual opportunity to provide nearly 100 artists from New York State with unrestricted cash grants,” said Michael L. Royce, Executive Director, NYFA. “What’s most exciting is that the Fellowship impacts artists of all disciplines and career stages and that these artists are being recognized by a jury of their peers. Beyond the financial aspect, it empowers them to keep creating and exploring new possibilities in their work.”

New York State Council on the Arts Executive Director Mara Manus described how the program makes New York communities more vibrant: “The NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship recognizes that artists of all disciplines, backgrounds, ages, and career stages make vital contributions to New York’s creative culture. Over the past 33 years, the Artist Fellowship has been a launching pad and a critical source of support for artists whose work helps build healthy communities in all regions of the state.”

On receiving a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Playwriting/Screenwriting, Brooklyn-based Nabil Viñas said: “It is a deeply moving honor to be recognized by NYSCA/NYFA. I took up screenwriting out of necessity, as it became clear that the voices and stories from my life would not appear in works by others. This fellowship tells me our stories matter, and that my voice is worth hearing.”

For Ben Altman, a Fellow in Architecture/Environmental Structures/Design from Danby, NY, the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship represents another facet of support from NYFA: “NYFA has informed my artistic practice throughout my 12 years in Upstate New York, providing professional development, fiscal sponsorship, grant application support, workshops, critique, and timely advice. To be awarded a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship is as much a tribute to those inputs as it is an important and very welcome recognition of the work NYFA’s support has helped me to produce.”

To Veena Chandra, a Fellow in Music/Sound from Latham, NY, the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship empowers her to “continue to create, promote, and preserve” musical tradition. “I feel blessed to have been playing Indian sitar music for the last 63 years. I am so grateful to my father, who created an environment for me to learn this beautiful music and taught me from the very beginning of my life. To be recognized for my work in performing and preserving Indian Classical music means a lot to me, especially at this point in my career,” she noted.

Major funding is also provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA). Additional funding is provided by Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, Taiwanese American Arts Council, The Joy of Giving Something Inc., and individual donors.

Fellowship Recipients, Finalists, and Panelists by Discipline and County of Residence:

Architecture/Environmental Structures/Design

Fellows

  • Ben Altman (Tioga)
  • Kenseth Armstead (Kings)
  • Shimon Attie (New York)
  • Sonya Blesofsky (Kings)
  • Yeju Choi and Chat Travieso – Yeju & Chat (Kings) *
  • Blane De St. Croix (Kings)
  • Sun Young Kang (Erie)
  • Kyung-jin Kim  (Queens)
  • Ming-Jer Kuo (Queens)***
  • Lindsay Packer (Kings)
  • Christopher Robbins (Westchester)
  • Jeffrey Williams (Kings)

Finalists

  • Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels (Kings)
  • Justin Brice Guariglia (Kings)
  • Pascale Sablan (New York)

Panelists

  • Ann Reichlin (Tompkins)
  • Ekene Ijeoma (Kings)
  • Nina Cooke John (New York)
  • Victoria Palermo (Warren)

Choreography

Fellows

  • Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie (New York)
  • Justina Grayman (Queens)****
  • GREYZONE (Kings)
  • Dan Hurlin (New York)
  • Jaamil Olawale Kosoko (Kings)
  • Shamel Pitts (Kings)
  • Melinda Ring (New York)
  • Same As Sister (Queens)*
  • Rebeca Tomas (Westchester)
  • Kelly Todd (Kings)
  • Donna Uchizono (New York)
  • Vangeline (Kings)
  • Adia Tamar Whitaker (Kings)

Finalists

  • Parijat Desai (New York)
  • DELIRIOUS Dances/Edisa Weeks (Kings)
  • Netta Yerushalmy (New York)

Panelists

  • Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp (Monroe)
  • Robin Collen (St. Lawrence)
  • Trebien Pollard (Erie)
  • Marie Poncé (New York)
  • Kota Yamazaki (Kings)

Music/Sound

Fellows

  • ALMA (Kings)*
  • Lora-Faye Åshuvud (Queens)
  • Bob Bellerue (Kings)
  • Leila Bordreuil (Kings)
  • Vienna Carroll (New York)
  • Veena Chandra (Albany)
  • David First (Kings)
  • Micah Frank (Kings)
  • Kate Gentile (Kings)
  • Michael Harrison (Westchester)
  • JSWISS (Kings)
  • Liz Phillips (Queens)
  • Kenneth Kirschner (Kings)
  • Elliott Sharp (New York)
  • Jen Shyu (Kings)
  • Ann Warde (Tompkins)
  • Washboard XT (New York)
  • Eric Wubbels (Queens)

Finalists

  • Lily Henley (Kings)
  • Earl Howard (Queens)
  • Tobaron Waxman (New York)

Panelists

  • Toni Blackman (Kings)
  • Sarah Hennies (Tompkins)
  • John Morton (Rockland)
  • Margaret Anne Schedel (Suffolk)
  • Elio Villafranca (New York)

Photography 

Fellows

  • Manal Abu-Shaheen (Queens)
  • Yasser Aggour (Kings)
  • Aneta Bartos (New York)
  • Lucas Blalock (Kings)
  • Matthew Conradt (Kings)
  • Debi Cornwall  (Kings)
  • Robin Crookall (Kings)
  • Tim Davis (Dutchess)******
  • Eli Durst (Queens)
  • Nona Faustine (Kings)
  • Jonathan Gardenhire  (Kings)
  • Rachel Granofsky (Kings)*****
  • Carlie Guevara (Queens)
  • Gail Albert-Halaban (New York)
  • Daesha Devón Harris (Saratoga)******
  • Gillian Laub (New York)
  • Jiatong Lu (Kings)******
  • Diana Markosian (Kings)
  • Rehan Miskci (New York)
  • Rachelle Mozman Solano (Kings)
  • Karina Aguilera Skvirsky (New York)
  • Erin O’Keefe (New York)
  • Paul Raphaelson (Kings)
  • Victor Rivera (Onondaga)******
  • Jahi Lateef Sabater (Kings)
  • Nadia Sablin (Kings)
  • Derick Whitson (New York)
  • Letha Wilson (Columbia)******
  • Alex Yudzon (Kings)

Finalists

  • Mike Crane (Kings)
  • Julianne Nash (Kings)
  • Dana Stirling (Queens)

Panelists

  • Nydia Blas (Tompkins)
  • Carmen Lizardo (Hudson)
  • Lida Suchy (Onondaga)
  • Sinan Tuncay (Kings)
  • Penelope Umbrico (Kings)

Playwriting/Screenwriting 

Fellows

  • Rae Binstock (Kings)
  • Benedict Campbell (Bronx)
  • Sol Crespo (Bronx)****
  • Amy Evans (Kings)
  • Stephanie Fleischmann (Columbia)
  • Robin Fusco (Queens)
  • Myla Goldberg (Kings)
  • Ryan J. Haddad (New York)
  • Susan Kathryn Hefti (New York)
  • Holly Hepp-Galvan (Queens)
  • Timothy Huang (New York)
  • Fedna Jacquet (New York)
  • Nicole Shawan Junior (Kings)**
  • Serena Kuo (Kings)
  • Kal Mansoor (Kings)
  • Michael Mejias (Kings)
  • Joey Merlo (New York)
  • Rehana Lew Mirza (Kings)
  • Joél Pérez (New York)
  • Keil Troisi (Kings)
  • Nabil Viñas (New York)
  • Craig T. Williams (New York)

Finalists

  • Iquo B. Essien (Kings)
  • Becca Roth (Kings)
  • Sheri Wilner (New York)

Panelists

  • Sheila Curran Bernard (Albany)
  • Clarence Coo (New York)
  • Randall Dottin (New York)
  • David Ebeltoft (Steuben)
  • Julie Casper Roth (Albany)

* Collaborative artists

** Geri Ashur Screenwriting Award

*** Joanne Y. Chen Taiwanese American Artist Fellow

**** Gregory Millard Fellows made with the support of the New York City

Department of Cultural Affairs; Gregory Millard Fellowships are awarded annually to New York City residents chosen in several categories. The award was established by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in 1984 in memory of poet and playwright Gregory Millard, who served as Assistant Commissioner of Cultural Affairs from 1978 until his death in 1984 and championed the causes of individual artists.

***** Deutsche Bank Fellow

******Joy of Giving Something Fellow

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