Illinois Arts Council Agency Announces 2021 Artist Fellowship Award Recipients

This year 24 Illinois artists will receive Fellowships totaling $360,000.

By: Jun. 22, 2021

The Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA) is honored to announce the 2021 Artist Fellowship Award (AFA) recipients. The IACA AFAs are $15,000 awards to Illinois artists in recognition of their outstanding work and commitment within the arts. This year 24 Illinois artists will receive Fellowships totaling $360,000. Finalist Awards of $1,500 were also awarded to 10 Illinois artists for a total of $15,000. The Finalist Award category recognizes and encourages additional applicants who demonstrate considerable talent.

The AFA Program offered funding in 8 artistic disciplines. This year's Fellowship and Finalist Award recipients were selected from 377 Illinois based creative artists working in the disciplines of Choreography, Media Arts (category includes audio art, digital art, film, and video), Music Composition, Music Improvisation, Performance Based Arts, Poetry, Prose, and Scriptworks.

The IACA is the largest funder of individual artists in Illinois. These unrestricted awards support Illinois artists' creative endeavors and artistic growth. The mission of the IACA is "To build a strong, creative, and connected Illinois through the arts." Executive Director Joshua Davis-Ruperto, states, "It is important to recognize that Illinois' artists contribute to the vital core of our communities and, as the challenges of the past year have demonstrated, are most essential to provide ongoing support to."

The Artist Fellowship Awardees and Finalist range in age from their 30s through their 70s, hail from 14 different communities across the state including urban, suburban, and rural communities. They represent communities from as far north as the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston, as far south as the watershed of the Big Muddy River in Carbondale, and as well as the heart of Illinois, Champaign.

Following are the Fiscal Year 2021 Artist Fellowship and Finalist Award recipients listed by discipline.


Bril Barrett of Chicago ($15,000), Ayako Kato of Chicago ($15,000) and C. Kemal Nance of Urbana ($1,500)

Media Arts:

Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero/Luftwerk of Chicago ($15,000), Salome Chasnoff of Chicago ($15,000), Peg Shaw of Mahomet ($15,000), Yuge Zhou of Chicago ($15,000), Daniel Nearing of Flossmoor ($1,500) and Calum Walter of Chicago ($1,500)

Music Composition:

Eric Mandat of Carbondale ($15,000), Victor Pichardo of Chicago ($15,000), Augusta Read Thomas of Chicago ($15,000), Dan Visconti of Algonquin ($15,000) and Igor Santos of Evanston ($1,500)

Music Improvisation:

Geof Bradfield of Chicago ($15,000), Kathleen Keane of Chicago ($15,000), Kendric Lewis of Calumet City ($15,000), James Sanders of Skokie ($1,500) and Matthew Ulery of Chicago ($1,500)

New Performance Forms:

Jenn Freeman of Chicago ($15,000), Adelheid Mers of Chicago ($15,000), Deke Weaver of Champaign ($15,000) and Brendan Fernandes of Chicago ($1,500)


Daniel Borzutzky of Chicago ($15,000), Rebecca Hazelton of Naperville ($15,000), Li-Young Lee of Chicago ($15,000) and Michael Robins of Chicago ($1,500)


Rebecca Makkai of Lake Forest ($15,000), Mary Anne Mohanraj of Oak Park ($15,000), Valerie Vogrin of Moro ($15,000) and Eileen M Favorite of Chicago ($1,500)


Jo Cattell of Chicago ($15,000), Gloria Bond Clunie of Evanston ($15,000) and Jennifer Rumberger of Chicago ($1,500)

The following advisory committee members reviewed this year's applications in the disciplines of:

Choreography: Julia Mayer, Chicago, IL; Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Washington DC; Christopher Walker, Madison WI

Media Arts: Kylos Brannon, Washington DC; David Burns, Carbondale, IL; Visda Goudarzi, Chicago, IL; Tania Khalaf, Denton, TX; Michael Metzger, Evanston, IL

Music Composition: Jonathan Bailey Holland, Arlington, MA; Jeff Kowalkowski, Chicago, IL; Alex Lubet, St. Paul, MN; Janice Misurell-Mitchell, Chicago, IL; Laura Schwendinger, Madison, WI

Music Improvisation: Bobby Broom, Evanston, IL; Juan Dies, Chicago, IL; Roosevelt Griffin III, Matteson, IL; Keri Johnsrud, Chicago, IL; Ron Perrillo, Tacoma, WA

New Performance Forms: Jeff Abell, Chicago, IL; Mark Jeffrey, Chicago, IL; Leslie Tamaribuchi, Los Angeles, CA; Peter Taub, Chicago, IL; Marianne Weems, Santa Cruz, CA

Poetry: Carolyn Aguila, Chicago, IL; Caitlin Doyle, Longwood, FL; Cristián Gómez Olivares, Novelty, OH; Mark Turcotte, Chicago, IL

Prose: Carolyn M. Alessio, Chicago, IL; Joseph Bruchac, Greenfield Center, NY; Jewelle Gomez, Oakland, CA; Daniel Libman, Oregon, IL

Scriptworks: Nicholas Bushman, Columbus, OH; Sandra Delgado, Chicago, IL; Eddie Sugarman, Western Springs, IL

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