Letter from the President: Celebrating Earth Day and the Ecosystem of the Arts

Dear Artists, Friends, and Supporters, Spring has sprung! This Earth Day, I am excited to highlight some of the projects we are funding related to climate justice and the environment, and to share news on the work we are doing to support our grantees and the arts ecosystem at-large.

Opening next week is The Open Orchard by Sam Van Aken (2009 Creative Capital grantee) on Governor’s Island in New York. Recently reviewed in The New Yorker, this public project comprises 50 hybrid fruit trees which have been grafted with multiple varieties of fruits that originated or were historically grown in the New York City region over the past 400 years, but which have been lost to the industrialization of agriculture.

Creative Capital has supported more than 100 artists working in the intersections of art, climate, and sustainability, including: Jordan Weber: 4MX Greenhouse, a land revitalization project on the site of Malcolm X’s Omaha home at birth; Jae Rhim Lee: Infinity Burial Suit, a technology which detoxifies the corpse using a new hybrid mushroom and creates clean compost; Alejandro Durán: Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape, an environmental installation and photography project that transforms the international debris washing up on Mexico’s Caribbean coast; and Etienne Charles: Earth Tones, a multimedia jazz performance featuring original compositions that document and feature peoples and regions that are, and will be, severely affected by climate change.

In the first quarter of this year, we have continued to support the arts ecosystem via our Grantmaking and Artist Services:

  • Hosted an online orientation for our 2022 Creative Capital Awardees with a special panel discussion with our alumni awardees: Cristina Ibarra, Guadalupe Maravilla, Lorraine O’Grady, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ralph Lemon, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, and Vijay Iyer.
  • Launched a new Peer Mentorship program where grantees may request consultations with our alumni awardees via our bespoke Awardee Hub and mentors receive honoraria for their work.
  • Closed our 2023 grant application for “Wild Futures: Art, Culture, Impact” with a marked increase in submissions in all categories.
  • Stay tuned for our 2024 grant cycle focused on Visual Arts and Film, with socially engaged and multidisciplinary project proposals welcome in both categories!
  • Provided 89 Creative Capital grantees with funding and served 1,765 artists via our professional development workshops.
  • Funded 84 artists of color through our partnership with Kickstarter x Skoll Foundation.

Every day, Creative Capital works with boundary-pushing artists on groundbreaking projects. Every day, these projects exercise freedom of expression and put forth vital new ideas into the world. Special congratulations to our five grantees in the Venice Biennale—Akosua Adoma Owusu, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Sable Elyse Smith, Simone Leigh, and Wu Tsang—and our eight grantees in the Whitney Biennial—Alia Farid, Danielle Dean, Ralph Lemon, Raven Chacon, Rodney McMillian, Sable Elyse Smith, Terence Nance, and Tony Cokes!

In February, I discovered the 2005 Creative Capital project, The Ukrainian Time Machine by Naomi Uman, a film based on her trip to the Ukraine, returning to the land of her ancestors, to live with a family of dairy farmers. I continue to marvel at all the subjects our artists have documented, explored, and dreamed.

As the war rages on in the Ukraine, wreaking horrific suffering and perpetuating our fossil fuel dependency and environmental emergency, I am reminded that democracy, freedom of expression, and the planet must be sustained by us all—that we are stewards of our futures. Thank you to our artists, friends, and supporters who make our work possible. In this season of rebirth, may we have the chance to rediscover and protect the beauty and wonder in the world.

Peace and art,

Christine Kuan
President & Executive Director

Image credits: Fallen Fruit, Endless Orchard; Jordan Weber, 4MX Greenhouse; Jae Rhim Lee, The Infinity Burial Suit; Alejandro Durán, Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape; Etienne Charles, Jab Molassie, from Carnival: The Sound of A People, Trinidad & Tobago, photo: Maria Nunes; Sam Van Aken, The Open Orchard at Governor’s Island, New York; Naomi Uman, The Ukrainian Time Machine (film still).

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