23 July 2012

Four Awardees to Receive $10,000 Unrestricted Grants in Fall 2012 Following A Three-Phase Selection Process

Public Discourse on the Foundation's Website to Help Shape Selection Criteria

New York, NY—July 23, 2012—A Blade of Grass, a grant-making foundation dedicated to advancing socially engaged art, announced today the launch of its grants program for individual artists. The unrestricted grants, each for $10,000, will be awarded in fall 2012 to four artists living in the New York metropolitan area, whose work directly engages the public and creates social experiences. The awardees will be selected through a three-phase process facilitated by independent curator Kalia Brooks and the foundation’s Board of Advisors.

The grant-making process for this program has been designed to generate dialogue and feedback via the foundation’s website as a way to inform its selection criteria and definition of excellence for both this initial and future grant programs. This experimental grant program is A Blade of Grass’ first step toward examining the full sweep of socially engaged art and framing criteria that guide the assessment of its quality. The public discourse is an essential part of the process and will play an integral role in the foundation’s decision-making. 

The grant will unfold over the next three months as follows:

Phase One:  Brooks will select 20 artists based on three major areas of criteria: the artist’s work is social rather than material in nature and the audience is an integral participant within the work; the work responds to Brooks’ hypothesis that socially engaged art is most effective and compelling when it is “generous” or contains an element of sharing between the artist and audience; and the artist is New York-based, has demonstrated a genuine financial need, and can participate in all elements of the grant program. 

Brooks, who is in the process of identifying artists eligible for the grants, has selected 11 of the 20 candidates, including Heather HartThomas Allen Harris, Ed Woodam, Shane Aslan Seltzer, Risë Wilson, Bayeté Ross-Smith and William Sylvester, Sean Fader, Nicky Enright, Alicia Grullon, LuLu LoLo, and Leon Reid.

Throughout July and August, Brooks will meet independently with each artist to discuss their work and interest in social engagement. The visits will result in short videos and written dossiers on each of the nominees, which will live on the A Blade of Grass website and be open to public discussion, helping to foster an active online community. The criteria for selecting these artists and process for the grant will also be available and open to feedback from the community.

Phase Two:  Brooks will select ten semi-finalists to move on to the second phase based on criteria derived in part from public input.  These artists will participate in a program organized by Brooks that will be implemented in late fall 2012 that explores the way the core curatorial hypothesis of generosity shaped these artists’ work.

Phase Three:  A Blade of Grass’ Advisory Committee will select four grant recipients from among the finalists, using criteria informed by the public dialogue. These criteria will, too, be open for discussion and amendment on A Blade of Grass’ website prior to the final selections being made. 

“I founded A Blade of Grass to build and nourish a creative community of people who believe that artists bring a unique voice to the public  table, and can therefore generate real social change,” said Shelley Rubin. “I am thrilled that we are creating an open, transparent process which will invite and be responsive to dialogue. Like the art we'll be supporting, A Blade of Grass' grant-making will become a creative process itself, growing and changing, becoming more effective with each iteration.”

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