I am honored to be able to announce that I was named a 2009 Efroymson Fellow of Contemporary Art…
Five Midwestern artists receive $20,000 each from the Efroymson Family Fund
Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowships help artists continue their development
INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 24, 2009) –The Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship awarded five artists from Indianapolis, Bloomington, Hammond and Cincinnati $20,000 grants to help them continue their artistic development. The Fellowship, made possible by the Indianapolis-based Efroymson Family Fund, has distributed $500,000 to artists in five years.
The 2009 Efroymson Fellows are Casey Riordan Millard, 36, and Chris Vorhess, 37, both of Cincinnati; Tyson Skross, 30, Bloomington; Anila Agha Quayyum, 44, Indianapolis; and Jennifer Reeder, 40, Hammond. They were honored at a reception Nov. 23 at the Wheeler Art Center in Fountain Square. The recipients were among 249 artists who submitted applications.
Created to recognize gifted contemporary artists, the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship originally focused on Central Indiana. The program, managed by the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), is now open to artists from across Indiana, as well as Louisville and Cincinnati.
“It’s amazing the work that Midwestern artists are doing, pushing boundaries and their creativity to achieve more for themselves, and also to promote the value of contemporary art,” said Jeremy Efroymson, vice chair and one of three Efroymson family members who advise the Efroymson Family Fund on its gifts to the community. “This annual Fellowship continues to grow, and we continue to be impressed with the high-quality work being created in the Midwest.”
The Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship is unique among fellowships nationally, most notably because it has very few restrictions. While eligible artists must live in Indiana or in the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) of Louisville or Cincinnati; be age 25 or older; and work in photography, painting, sculpture, new media or installation art, those applying for the award aren’t required to have a degree or a minimum amount of experience. In addition, Efroymson Fellows can use the grant money any way they choose to further their artistic careers – for living expenses, equipment and supplies, studio rental, travel essential to artistic research or to complete work.
The idea behind the Fellowship is simply to encourage emerging and established contemporary artists to continue their artistic development. Since the Fellowship’s inception, The Efroymson Family Fund has awarded a total of $500,000 to 25 artists, and many of those artists say the Fellowship was a career-altering award.
The 2009 Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellows are:
Tyson Skross: 30, Bloomington, painting/sculpture. Growing up in Switzerland at the crossroads of a new century helped shape much of the art Skross creates, as he works to form a new way of understanding history. The materials he uses – silicone-based rubbers and urethane plastics – reflect his youth. “I have recently been casting objects, taking the military models of my childhood and deconstructing them. Literally re-casting each piece in order to depersonalize or virtualize it,” he explains. The form alludes to the spiritual, mystical and historical. Skross believes mystery is important, and the meaning of a piece should be submerged just below the surface, underneath the experience of viewing the work. Skross plans on using the fellowship to rent a larger studio space to create large scale installations, travel to Germany, the Czech Republic and New York for artistic research and create a catalog of his work.
Casey Riordan Millard: 36, Cincinnati, sculpture/mixed media. Her iconic “shark girl,” created five years ago, provides a whimsical approach to address the darker issues of the human condition. You’ll find “shark girl,” in Millard’s sculptures, mixed media and paintings. “Shark Girl began as a personal filter for my worries, and she has become a symbol of the human struggle with one’s limited time on earth and filling that time with diversion,” Millard said. Her sculptures – many life-size – are constructed from steel armatures and then covered in wax, fabric, papier-mâché and paint, while smaller sculptures generally are made of hand-built bisque-fired porcelain and then painted with oils. Millard will use the fellowship for living expenses, to create two new works and to rent a studio space.
Anila Agha Quayyum: 44, Indianapolis, painting/mixed media. A decade ago, Quayyum, who is a Pakistani immigrant, decided to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, a journey that defines much of her art, which has a global perspective, and explores how Pakistani culture has affected her life. “I believe it is vital to understand and provide comprehension from multiple viewpoints; and educate the general public about diversity and cultural differences, creating tolerance, acceptance and comprehension.” Her artwork is made up of series of collaged drawings that explore how social and gender-based issues result from the concepts constructed by history, traditions and the contemporary society. Quayyum will use the fellowship for studio rental, to create new large-scale works, purchase materials and supplies, and travel to the United Kingdom.
Chris Vorhess: 37, Cincinnati, sculpture/installation. When you look at Vorhess’ art, he wants you to smile. Have fun. And to know that he had fun crafting it. “As serious as I think the content of my work is (to me anyway), I think it is just as important, if not more, to be moved to smile and be filled with wonder when experiencing art.” Vorhess’ work is influenced by the home-improvement/remodeling phenomenon, using common furnishings – patio furniture, IKEA designs and dumpster finds – to create sculptures that marry art with the role of the consumer. “I like to appropriate and combine materials, aesthetics and practices from these sources; reworking and confusing them into forms that resemble furniture, sculpture, landscaping and architecture,” he explains. “These ideas and forms are blurred together to highlight and celebrate contradictions and coincidences of design, language and function.” Vorhess will use the fellowship for living expenses, studio rental, artistic professional development and to purchase equipment and technology used to create new works.
Jennifer Reeder: 40, Hammond, video. Reeder, who grew up in Central Ohio and lives in Indiana, is influenced by the vast skies, flat landscapes and the everyday people of the Midwest. “I tell stories about women and the Midwest. I make art work from actual experience and observation and my projects, which range from single and multi-channel video to drawing, sculpture and installation, and are specific in mood and perspective,” she said. Reeder’s work has been part of exhibits at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, the ASU Museum of Art of La Casa Encendida in Mardid and the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. Reeder will use a majority of the fellowship to produce, “Tears Cannot Restore Her: Therefore, I Weep,” a production of 15 sculptural objects, which is scheduled to be part of a September 2010 show at Andrew Rafcz Gallery in Chicago.
A four-member selection committee consisting of national and regional representatives chose the five recipients in a blind selection process. The selection committee members were Jeremy Efroymson, vice chair of the Efroymson Family Fund; Ben Heywood, executive director of The Soap Factory in Minneapolis; Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Pamela Alper associate curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; and Sam Lee, director of the Sam Lee Gallery in Los Angeles.
Fellows are selected for the quality, skill, creativity and uniqueness of their work, their commitment to developing their work, and the impact the award will have on the artist’s career.
“The Efroymsons have a tradition of being entrepreneurial, and the Contemporary Artist Fellowship program is a great example of this. CICF is so proud to help make Jeremy’s philanthropic idea a reality – now five years later and $500,000 invested in the best contemporary visual artists in the Midwest. It is a great privilege to work with the Efroymson Family and help them in their charitable giving,” said Brian Payne, president of Central Indiana Community Foundation.
The Efroymson family has supported the art community in Indianapolis for decades, believing that art is a vehicle for exploring new ideas and stimulating community dialogue. To further plan and maximize their philanthropy, in 1998 Dan and Lori Efroymson established the Efroymson Family Fund with Central Indiana Community Foundation. Their initial gift to the fund was $90 million and since the inception of this fund The Efroymson Advisors have awarded more than $55 million in grants to local, regional and national not-for-profit organizations. In addition to their arts support, in Indiana, the focus of the family’s community contributions are to improve the viability of Indianapolis by providing funds for the welfare of the disadvantaged; the natural environment; historic preservation; and the well-being of the Jewish people.
For more information about the Efroymson Family Fund and its Contemporary Arts Fellowship, visit www.cicf.org or call 317.634.2423