June 10, 2024

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama State Council on the Arts

Alabama Artists and Arts Organizations Awarded $360,000

Announcing Artist Fellows and Arts Facilities Grantees

MONTGOMERY, Ala., (June 10, 2024) — At its quarterly meeting in Montgomery, the Alabama State Council on the Arts awarded twenty-three (23) Fellowship grants totaling $115,000 and seven (7) Arts Facilities grants totaling $245,000 for a total of $360,000 in funding.

Fellowships are awarded to individuals working in arts education, craft, dance, design, media/photography, music, literature, theatre, and visual arts. These grants recognize artistic achievement and professional commitment and contribute to the advancement of the artist. Fellows use funding to support the growth and development of their artistic careers through time creating, practicing, and improving their skill, pursuit of professional development and training, or other opportunities that lead to success for these Alabama artists.

“I am proud to see how our Fellowship grants enable Alabama artists to enhance their practice. Supporting and nurturing artistic talent is fundamental to the cultural richness and diversity of our state,” said Council board chair Lisa Blach Weil.

Arts Facilities grants are an economic investment in an organization as they plan, design, or construct spaces for arts activities. This program continues to support the adaptive re-use of spaces and revitalize neighborhoods. Funded projects involve professionals in urban and community planning, architecture, landscape design, and historic preservation. Grantees are awarded based on evidence of community support, a key element for large and small organizations enhancing spaces for arts activities.

“Art and creativity are a vital part of the ecosystem of our state, and the Arts Facilities program reflects the Council’s commitment to supporting vibrant, engaging spaces that will enrich the lives of Alabamians for years to come,” said Elliot Knight, the Council’s executive director.

Applications for this cycle of facilities grants were submitted between January 1 and March 1, 2024, and are awarded for the 2025 fiscal year (October 1, 2024 – September 30, 2025). The Council on the Arts recently received a supplemental appropriation from the Alabama Legislature to further support arts facilities. Additional information about the new grant program will be announced in July.

FELLOWSHIP GRANTS

Fellowships are grants awarded to outstanding individual artists and arts educators in Alabama and provide support for the creative growth of an individual’s career. The Council on the Arts is honored to announce these 23 artists, makers, and educators who will each receive $5,000.

Name

City

County

Amount

Fellowship

Emily Blejwas

Mobile

Mobile

$5,000

Prose Fellowship

Liza Butts

Birmingham

Jefferson

$5,000

Visual Arts Fellowship

Erin Dailey

Florence

Lauderdale

$5,000

Visual Arts Fellowship

Nancy Goodman

Mobile

Mobile

$5,000

Craft Fellowship

Kat Griffith

Birmingham

Jefferson

$5,000

Craft Fellowship

Roscoe Hall

Birmingham

Jefferson

$5,000

Visual Arts Fellowship

Dariá Hammond

Huntsville

Madison

$5,000

Visual Arts Fellowship

Will Jacks

Troy

Pike

$5,000

Media/Photography Fellowship

Benjamin Lundy

Dothan

Houston

$5,000

Arts Educator Fellowship

Pamela Manasco

Madison

Madison

$5,000

Poetry Fellowship

Bethany Moody

Odenville

St. Clair

$5,000

Craft Fellowship

Tricia Oliver

Opelika

Lee

$5,000

Arts Educator Fellowship

Kadisha Onalbayeva

Mobile

Mobile

$5,000

Music Fellowship

Randi Pink

Birmingham

Jefferson

$5,000

Prose Fellowship

Charity Rachelle

Birmingham

Jefferson

$5,000

Gay Burke Memorial Photography Fellowship

Javier Sandoval

Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa

$5,000

Poetry Fellowship

Elvie Schooley

Montevallo

Shelby

$5,000

Dance Fellowship

Geoff Sciacca

Birmingham

Jefferson

$5,000

Design Fellowship

Margaret Ann Snow

Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa

$5,000

Prose Fellowship

David Strickland

Birmingham

Jefferson

$5,000

Theatre Fellowship

Michael Swann

Tarrant

Jefferson

$5,000

Visual Arts Fellowship

Cynthia Wagner

Huntsville

Madison

$5,000

Visual Arts Fellowship

Katherine Webb-Hehn

Birmingham

Jefferson

$5,000

Prose Fellowship


Emily Blejwas
of Mobile was awarded a Literary Arts Fellowship in Prose. Emily is the author of two middle grade novels: Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened and Once You Know This (Random House/Delacorte Press, 2020, 2017). She is also the author of The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods (UA Press, 2019). Emily is the executive director of the Alabama Folklife Association, where writing, storytelling, and editing are foundational. She holds an MS in Rural Sociology from Auburn University and a BA in Religion from Kenyon College.

Liza Butts of Birmingham was awarded a Visual Arts Fellowship. Liza uses landscape imagery, silk-screening processes, and experimental techniques with paper and fabric. A short documentary was filmed about her studio practice by Alabama Public Television and included in the Sidewalk Film Festival in 2023. Liza received her BFA in Studio Art from Washington University in St. Louis and currently serves as the Studio Manager for Paperworkers Local, a nonprofit printshop that focuses on nontoxic printing and education.

Erin Daily of Florence was awarded a Visual Arts Fellowship. She is a mixed-media artist whose work explores the relationship between art, design, and play. Her practice addresses expressing creativity through play and explores the identity of the creative self in motherhood. She considers geometric form, color, and grid structure as the foundational ideas for her work and utilizes paper and upcycled cardboard packaging in her collages. Erin holds a BA in architecture from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art in New York City.

Nancy Goodman of Mobile was awarded a Craft Fellowship. Her art quilts are informed by all the places she’s lived, but a year spent in Gabon, Africa, was the most influential on her practice. Inspired by the Gabonese use of color, Nancy began using solid, saturated colors in her quilts. Her work has been exhibited at the University of Mobile, Alabama Contemporary Art Center, Wiregrass Museum of Art, and the Eastern Shore Art Center. This is her second Fellowship from the Council on the Arts.

Kat Griffith of Birmingham was awarded a Craft Fellowship. Kat is a metal artist whose style is sleek and modern with a touch of the natural world streaming in and out of every concept like a river. It is meant to challenge the observer and bring an inquisitive and playful conversation to the table. Her creations include jewelry, home goods, sculpture, and public art commissions.

Roscoe Hall of Birmingham was awarded a Visual Arts Fellowship. A chef by trade, Roscoe’s art employs the contemporary narratives of the migration of African Americans from the North to the Southeastern U.S. His narratives of the contemporary South using what he calls “ingredients” are cultivated within crops picked at their peak in his paint pigments. His works have been acquired by The Birmingham Museum of Art, University of Alabama, and Kalamazoo Art Institute.

Dariá Hammond of Huntsville was awarded a Visual Arts Fellowship. She is an artist and muralist who uses art as a tool for healing, transforming landscapes and homes through realism and abstract. Dariá’s murals can be found in a treasured neighborhood in Florence, AL, an artful alley in Tullahoma, TN, and several spaces in Huntsville, AL, including Trader Joe’s and Huntsville Hospital.

Will Jacks of Troy was awarded a Media/Photography Fellowship. Will is a process artist best known for his photographic work. He incorporates explorations with land, objects, sound, video, and community engagement into his practice. His research examines the blurred areas between art and journalism, individual and collective, and the impact of each on the other. Will holds an MFA in studio art from the Maine College of Art, an MA in journalism from the University of Mississippi, and currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Art/Photography at Troy University.

Benjamin Lundy of Dothan was awarded an Arts Educator Fellowship. Benjamin is the chair of theatre at Wallace Community College and a member of the Musical Theatre Educators' Alliance. His goal is to use the transformative art form of theatre to encourage students to find their voice, become active content creators rather than passive culture consumers, and recognize the humanity in one another, making students not just career-ready, but, more importantly, community-ready.

Pamela Manasco of Madison was awarded a Poetry Fellowship. Her poems explore the identities and experience of motherhood and mental illness, and the intersection of both. Her writing has been published in numerous journals, including New South Journal, Rust + Moth, and Canyon Voices. She earned a BA in English at the University of Alabama, and an MFA at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. Pamela works as an English instructor at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, where she teaches freshman composition classes and creative writing classes, including poetry and writing for digital media.

Bethany Moody of Odenville was awarded a Craft Fellowship. As an artist whose practice combines fiber, painting, and sculptural techniques to interrogate ideas of community, domesticity, sustainability, and the built environment, Bethany has exhibited nationally, most notably at COOP gallery (Nashville, TN), the Waiting Room (Minneapolis, MN), Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY), Collar Works (Troy, NY), The Overlook Place (Chicago, IL), and Little Berlin (Philadelphia, PA). They hold a BFA and MFA from the University of Montevallo and the University at Buffalo, SUNY, respectively. Bethany is currently artist-in-residence at Studio by the Tracks and an instructor of foundations at the University of Alabama.

Tricia Oliver of Opelika was awarded an Arts Educator Fellowship. Currently, she serves as a Middle School Arts Educator at East Samford School, where she fosters creativity and artistic expression in students. Tricia’s teaching philosophy emphasizes hands-on experiences and interdisciplinary connections. She is a member of the National Art Education Association and the Alabama Art Education Association and holds a BFA in visual arts from Auburn University and an M.Ed in theatre education from Columbus State University.

Kadisha Onalbayeva of Mobile was awarded a Music Fellowship. Kadisha holds two Master of Musical Arts from the University of New Orleans and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Louisiana State University. Over the course of her career, she has garnered international recognition and accolades as a composer, performer, and competition organizer. Kadisha is director of piano studies and professor of music at the University of Mobile and founder/president of the Gulf Coast Steinway Society. This is her second Fellowship from the Council on the Arts.

Randi Pink of Birmingham was awarded a Prose Fellowship. She is a highly acclaimed author, educator, and jazz vocalist with a rich and diverse background. Randi’s internationally published novels include Angel of Greenwood and Girls Like Us, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2019—both integral components of national school curricula. Recognized with the Alabama Library Association Award in 2022 for Girls Like Us, Randi's dynamic presence and unwavering commitment make her a distinguished figure whose journey stands as a testament to the transformative potential of storytelling and education.

Charity Rachelle of Birmingham was awarded the Gay Burke Memorial Photography Fellowship. She is a lens-based documentary artist exploring tradition and tribalism in the U.S. with a concentrated gaze on the Deep South. Charity’s long-form photo series, “The Promised Land,” documents the daily lives of religious community members living on a compound in rural Alabama. Through her work, she investigates humankind’s tendency toward group conformity, calling attention to complexities that are too often reduced to stereotypes and clichés.

Javier Sandoval of Tuscaloosa was awarded a Poetry Fellowship. Javier grew up in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico but has now found his home in Alabama. He is a Graduate Council Fellow at the University of Alabama’s MFA program where he teaches and served as poetry editor of Black Warrior Review. His own work has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative, Gulf Coast, Salamander, Massachusetts Review, and Indiana Review among others. Javier is recipient of swamp pink’s Indigenous Writers Prize and Frontier Poetry’s Global Poetry Prize.

Elvie Schooley of Montevallo was awarded a Dance Fellowship. She is the founder of DRUM The Program, a nonprofit organization that provides experiences of West African cultural arts and serves to develop Social Emotional Learning in youth ages 8-16. Elvie has invested eighteen years thus far in studying the folkloric arts abroad and here in the U.S. through workshops, conferences, and camps. She is also passionate about understanding the cultural context for which the music and dance is traditionally performed.

Geoff Sciacca of Birmingham was awarded a Design Fellowship. Geoff earned a BFA in graphic design from Auburn University and an MFA in graphic design from Louisiana Tech University. His areas of creative scholarship include printmaking and exploring how graphic design can be a tool for impacting social change and hopes that projects he is involved with can help move the needle. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Samford University.

Margaret Ann Snow of Tuscaloosa was awarded a Prose Fellowship. Her writing focuses on farming, which she has been doing for over twenty years as co-owner of Snow’s Bend Farm. Both areas of her work are inspired by a love of good food, a conviction to care for the land and people who work it, a curiosity of the scientific aspects of farming, and a wonderment of nature. Her work has been published in Gravy (Southern Foodways Alliance), Gastronomica (University of California), Tributaries (Alabama Folklife Association), and Taproot.

David Strickland of Birmingham was awarded a Theatre Fellowship. David is a freelance director and guest instructor at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Most recently, he directed Circle Mirror Transformation at Terrific New Theatre. Other credits include Fun Home and The Big Meal (Terrific New Theatre); A Year with Frog and Toad (Birmingham Children’s Theatre); and a tour of Ruth and the Green Book for Red Mountain Theatre Company. He has assistant directed at the Alliance Theatre, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company. David graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a BA in English and is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Michael Swann of Tarrant was awarded a Visual Arts Fellowship. Michael works primarily as a painter but enjoys utilizing a variety of mediums; in additional to oils, these include printmaking, airbrushing, and materials commonly used in the automotive field. Thematically, his interests range from human connection, memories, spiritualism to surrealism. He runs Gallery VOX, a contemporary art space in Tarrant. Michael holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Birmingham Southern College.

Cynthia Wagner of Huntsville was awarded a Visual Arts Fellowship. Cynthia, a mixed media artist, photographer, and painter, moved to Huntsville, AL, in 2012 after living all over the U.S. and Europe. She holds degrees in painting and visual communications/photography, and her work has been seen in many public settings and is held in several corporate and museum collections. She considers herself a visual narrator, illustrating fleeting, decidedly human stories through visual metaphors using various artistic mediums.

Katherine Webb-Hehn of Birmingham was awarded a Prose Fellowship. She is an award-winning journalist, writer, editor, and educator. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Bitter Southerner, Longreads, The Nation, Huffington Post, In These Times, Southerly, and elsewhere. Multiple institutions have awarded the work she’s done on LGBTQ+ adoption, environmental justice, and political movements in Alabama. A graduate of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington's MFA program, Katherine currently works with writers across the South as an editor for Hub City Press and as an instructor at the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

ARTS FACILITIES GRANTS

The Arts Facilities program provides funding for the planning, designing, and construction or renovation of arts-focused facilities. Funding assists arts organizations in the improvement of buildings and spaces used for arts activities that benefit the public.

Organization

City

County

Amount

Project

Bluff City Arts Alliance

Eufaula

Barbour

$7,000

Bluff City Art Alliance Strategic Planning Project

Cloverdale Playhouse

Montgomery

Montgomery

$13,000

Roof Replacement

Dance Foundation

Birmingham

Jefferson

$85,000

Dance Campus Expansion and Renovation

Foundation 154

Elba

Coffee

$40,000

Elba Theatre Theatrical Systems

Sloss Furnaces Foundation

Birmingham

Jefferson

$9,000

Metal Arts Studio Space Improvements

Terrific New Theatre

Birmingham

Jefferson

$85,000

Relocate, Renovate, and Reopen Campaign

Tri-State Expo Juneteenth Affairs

Cowarts

Houston

$6,000

Juneteenth and African American Art Museum


Bluff City Arts Alliance
in Eufaula was awarded a $7,000 planning grant to work with a strategic planner in order to conceptualize a facility based on an assessment of the needs of the community.

Cloverdale Playhouse in Montgomery was awarded a $13,000 construction grant to replace the existing roof to increase longevity and life of their historic building.

The Dance Foundation in Birmingham was awarded an $85,000 construction grant to support the creation of a new studio and performance space with increased seating, additional restrooms, storage, and administrative areas.

Foundation 154 in Elba was awarded a $40,000 construction grant to support the goal of utilizing the renovated Elba Theatre as a performing arts center. This funding will contribute to stage lighting, floor construction, and rigging, and providing audio needs with quality sound equipment.

Sloss Furnaces Foundation in Birmingham was awarded a $9,000 construction grant to update studio facilities by increasing accessibility and improving studio safety and workspace capacity.

Terrific New Theatre in Birmingham was awarded an $85,000 construction grant to renovate the theatre’s new arts facility, which is in a historic building downtown.

Tri-State Expo Juneteenth Affairs was awarded a $6,000 planning grant to support the organization’s plan of acquiring a location in downtown Dothan for the display of African American artifacts, Juneteenth art displays, and other arts education programs.

The grants above are in response to applications submitted between January 1 and March 1 and are awarded for the 2025 fiscal year (October 1, 2024 – September 30, 2025). 

The next grant deadline is September 1, 2024, for arts in education grants, project and administrative grants for organizations, and Folk Arts Apprenticeship requests. The application portal will open on July 1, 2024.

For more information about the Alabama State Council on the Arts, please visit arts.alabama.gov.

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About Alabama State Council on the Arts
The Council on the Arts is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts in Alabama. The Council works to expand and preserve the state’s cultural resources by supporting nonprofit arts organizations, schools, colleges, units of local government, and individual artists. Arts programs, assisted by Council grants, have a track record of enhancing community development, education, cultural tourism, and overall quality of life in all regions of the state. Alabama State Council on the Arts grants are made possible by an annual appropriation from the Alabama Legislature and additional funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Learn more at arts.alabama.gov.



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