What Is the Arts Writers Grant?

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Raoul Hausmann – ABCD or Portrait de l’artiste from Silvia Kolbowski’s art blog


If you’re a writer who focuses on contemporary art, you know that money for your craft is hard to come by. Sadly, even for some of the best arts writers out there, this can affect the time and effort one has to put into writing books, articles, essays and blog posts. With this in mind Creative Capital and the Warhol Foundation got together in 2006 to launch the Arts Writers Grant Program. The Arts Writers program really believes that quality writing deserves to have good funding behind it, and that this can change how writing about the arts is discussed, perceived and even made. The grants range from $15,000 to $50,000 to individual writers in five categories: Article, Blog, Book, New and Alternative Media, and Short-Form Writing. The program is currently accepting applications through May 21st!
What kind of arts writing does the Arts Writers Grant Program typically fund? After nine years, it’s pretty clear that there is nothing typical in this field! Here are just some examples of the wide array of writing the program has supported in the past.
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Video of Zajal live coding from esoteric.codes blog interview


The Blog category supports the continuation of existing blogs and the creation of new blogs about contemporary visual art. Last year the five blogs Arts Writers funded ranged from Project K by Kate Albers to esoteric.codes, Daniel Temkin’s knowledgeable discussion of programming languages as an art medium. Albers’s blog will feature short critical essays examining the intersection in the arts today between photography and social media. On the other end of the spectrum, Temkin is using his blog to document the history of “esolangs,” or esoteric programming language, to bridge the hacker community and the art community at large.
Of course, the Arts Writers Grant also supports books at all stages of their development, from research to the completion of writing. The writing they support here is crucial to the field of art history. A great example of this is Erin Aldana’s upcoming book Xerox Art in Brazil and Argentina, 1970-1980, a topic I had no idea existed before reading about it when the Arts Writers announced last year’s grants. Aldana will analyze the political, historical and social factors that influenced artists in these two countries to use Xerox as an artistic medium. The subject is clearly one twice marginalized—within Latin American art, and the medium of Xerox—and her work will surely be valuable as Latin American art gains a wider U.S. and European audience.
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Pussy Riot, image from Art in America article “Pussy Riot Realness”


Short-Form Writing is a unique category that supports the ongoing practice of writers who regularly produce short texts for various publications. For example, last year the program funded Johanna Fateman to write about a new generation of feminist artists who have come of age in the Internet age. Having produced original songs for her now defunct band, Le Tigre, for Christina Aguilera, and most recently, for Pussy Riot’s appearance on the show House of Cards, Fateman is exceptionally positioned to research and interpret a large swath of innovative and cutting edge arts practices. Recently, she published a must-read essay in Artforum on “Body Anxiety,” an online exhibition of artists like Ann Hirsch and Jennifer Chan who are using the feminine body in their largely digital practices.
The Article category of art writing is probably one most people are familiar with if you read essays, magazine features, and extended exhibition reviews about contemporary art. Last year, Arts Writers funded Andrea K. Scott who has been writing about the “postinternet” generation, following a loose group of young artists working in Berlin, Oslo, New York and Los Angeles. In the past, Scott has written articles for the New Yorker on Cory Arcangel, Anicka Yi and Henry Matisse, so I am excited to see what she has to say about this younger generation of new media artists.
That leaves us with the category that is hardest to classify: New and Alternative Media. The Arts Writers Program recognizes that, increasingly, writing doesn’t always have to be disseminated through books, magazines or even the Internet, so they also support projects that make use of technology to explore the process of writing and reading texts on contemporary visual art. Their guidelines state, “Of particular interest are projects that deploy the potential of new and alternative media in response to the increasingly complex and hybrid nature of current artistic practice, that target new or wider audiences, and that advance innovative approaches to conducting a public dialogue about art.” So what does that mean, exactly? That’s where you come in!
The Arts Writers Grant Program is funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and administered by Creative Capital. The program is accepting applications through May 21st. For more information, please visit artswriters.org.


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