Announcing the 2021 Creative Capital Awards

New York, NY (December 8, 2020) — Creative Capital is pleased to announce the selection of 35 projects, the work of 42 individual artists, for the 2021 Creative Capital Awards. These projects, each of which exemplifies the risk-taking, adventurous artmaking Creative Capital seeks to sustain, will receive up to $50,000 in project funding, supplemented by additional career development services. The full list of recipients is below.

The 35 projects, by 42 individual artists, were drawn from nearly 4,000 applications and selected by an eight-member, multidisciplinary panel composed of expert curators, producers, other arts professionals, and past awardees. In a departure from traditional awards panels, Creative Capital’s multi-step review process is not delineated by genre—the panelists deliberated together to select the awardees regardless of field.

“We are thrilled to honor these brilliant artists and the powerful, boundary-pushing work that they are creating,” said Leslie Singer, Creative Capital’s Interim Executive Director. “We look forward to seeing these projects grow to make their mark on the world, in spite of the tremendous challenges this year has posed for so many artists.”

The projects that earned 2021 Creative Capital Awards are based in 12 different states and territories. Of the 42 artists, 76 percent identify as being persons of color, 55 percent as female, and 10 percent identify as having a disability. They range in age from their 20s through their 70s.

The Creative Capital Awards are designed not as a one-time infusion of cash, but as the beginning of a long-term partnership between Creative Capital, an artist, and a broader artistic community. Creative Capital supports these projects in the long term, offering connections to expert advice on everything from the law to finances, and to the perspectives and expertise of other artists. The goal is not just the successful development of the project, but more stable and sustainable practices, on which artists can build.

Drawing from the principles of venture capital to develop innovative work in the cultural sphere, Creative Capital seeks out bold, groundbreaking projects and provides the artists behind them with the tools they need to realize their visions and build sustainable careers. Since its founding in 1999, Creative Capital has supported 783 artists with more than $50 million in funding; professional development opportunities; expert consulting; artist retreats and gatherings; and more, with the aim of fostering and developing artistic exchange and a thriving cultural commons across the United States.

Applications for the next cycle of Creative Capital Awards will open February 1, 2021.

Press Contacts
Ed Winstead
Director, Cultural Counsel
[email protected]

Michael Gibbons
Director of Marketing & Communications, Creative Capital
[email protected]

2021 Panelists
Naomi Beckwith – Manilow Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Ken Chen – Writer
Ryan Dennis – Chief Curator and Artistic Director of the Center for Art & Public Exchange (CAPE) at the Mississippi Museum of Art
Karen Farber – Vice President for External Affairs, Buffalo Bayou Partnership
Jennifer Lange – Curator of the Film/Video Studio Program, Wexner Center for the Arts
George Lugg – Consulting Producer, CalArts Center for New Performance
Ali Momeni – Senior Principal Scientist, AI and Robotics, Shield AI; 2013 Creative Capital Awardee
Lucy Mukerjee – Senior Programmer, Tribeca Film Festival; Co-Founder of the Programmers of Colour Collective

2021 Creative Capital Awards

Suha Araj
Brooklyn, NY
Pickled (Khsara)
Comedy, Narrative Film

Pickled (Khsara) is a comedic feature-length film set in the Palestinian diaspora about women who don’t get married “in time.”

People’s Kitchen Collective
(Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, Jocelyn Jackson, Saqib Keval)
Oakland, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Mexico City, Mexico
Artistic Activism, Social Practice

In Earthseed, People’s Kitchen Collective will gather together a cohort of grassroots activists whose work manifests survival and change, inspired by Octavia Butler’s Parables series.

Wafaa Bilal
New York, NY
In a Grain of Wheat: Cultivating Hybrid Futures in Ancient Seed DNA
Bio Art, Sculpture

Using leading-edge molecular biological archiving processes, Wafaa Bilal saves high-resolution 3D-scans of an iconoclastically vandalized ancient sculpture inside the DNA of heirloom Iraqi wheat seeds, integrating the origins of civilization with postcultural planetary futures.

Shirley Bruno
Brooklyn, NY
Just Come/Been To
Experimental Film, Narrative Film

A three-part experimental docufiction exploring intimate spaces of women, their inherited land conflicts, and buried family legacy in Haiti.

William D. Caballero
Los Angeles, CA
Animation, Documentary Film

TheyDream is an animated documentary about the hopes and realities of the filmmaker’s Puerto Rican-American family, plagued by health, financial, and social problems rooted in the systemic inequality in today’s America.

The Black School (Joseph Cuillier III, Shani Peters)
New York, NY
The Black Schoolhouse
Social Practice, Cultural Organizing

Expanding on their radical Black art programming, Joseph Cuillier III and Shani Peters turn a 21st-century schoolhouse into a community center, providing civic engagement activities for the Cuillier’s hometown, New Orleans’s 7th Ward.

Reid Davenport
Oakland, CA
I Didn’t See You There
Documentary Film

Spurred by a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker connects the ostensibly antiquated institution of the Freak Show with his own life.

Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski, Terence Nance
Brooklyn, NY; Los Angeles, CA
Kiara Daja Diamond and the 777 Satisfactions
Graphic Novel, Animation

Kiara Daja Diamond and the 777 Satisfactions is a surrealist graphic novel and animated TV series that tells the story of Kiara, a young ruler-to-be, who must master 777 “satisfactions.”

Anne Finger
Oakland, CA
Wheeling in Berlin
Literary Nonfiction

Inspired by the 20th century dandy archetype, Anne Finger writes about her travels as a wheelchair-user in Wheeling in Berlin, a book of personal essays mapping disability upon the geography of the city.

Shana M. griffin
New Orleans, LA
Social Practice, Multimedia

Through interactive multimedia like a digital atlas and archive, DISPLACED uses public history to chronicle the formation and institutionalization of racialized violence in housing policies, residential segregation, land-use planning, and urban development in New Orleans.

Mitchell S. Jackson
Chicago, IL
John of Watts
Literary Fiction

John of Watts is a novel inspired by the story of Eldridge Broussard, a youth preacher and former basketball player who started the Ecclesia Athletic Association, a group now known as a cult.

Lars Jan
Los Angeles, CA
Multimedia Performance, Augmented Reality

Using augmented reality technology on a massive scale, Roam is a performance set in a sports complex that speculatively traces one branch of the Afghan side of the artist’s family tree 70,000 years into the past.

Meng Jin
San Francisco, CA
Mothers and Girls: A Fake Memoir
Literary Fiction

In Mothers and Girls, a novel or “fake memoir” narrated by the daughter of a Chinese poet and a white American translator/scholar of Chinese literature, Meng Jin interrogates the reliability of text, and conceives of and enacts authorship as performance.

Crystal Kayiza
Brooklyn, NY
The Gardeners
Documentary Film, Experimental Film

The Gardeners is a feature-length film that follows the Worthy Women of Watkins Street, keepers of one of the oldest Black cemeteries in Mississippi.

Adam Khalil, Bayley Sweitzer
Brooklyn, NY
Video Art, Narrative Film

Spanning 500 years of colonial destruction, Nosferasta is a film that tells the story of Oba, a Rastafarian vampire, and Christopher Columbus, Oba’s original biter, as they spread the colonial infection throughout the “new world.”

Jenny Lion
Minneapolis, MN
untitled (Nevada, Utah)
Documentary Film, Video Art

untitled (Nevada, Utah) is a series of video installations and cinematic works which explore land-use, expansionist history, training rituals, and strategies of sustained witnessing at sites of historical resonance.

Marie Lorenz, Kurt Rohde, Dana Spiotta
New York, NY; San Francisco, CA; Syracuse, NY
Newtown Odyssey
Opera, Sculpture

The Newtown Odyssey is a floating opera set on barges in New York City where performers sing aboard moveable stages, as the audience pass by in boats. The score of the opera can be experienced in phases, reshuffling the narrative, giving each audience an entirely different experience of the work.

Sabrina Orah Mark
Athens, GA
Happily: Essays on Motherhood and Fairytales
Literary Nonfiction, Digital Media

Sabrina Orah Mark expands her monthly column, Happily, into a collection of essays on fairy tales and motherhood, using the fairy tale to shed light on the here and now.

Derek McPhatter
Chicago, IL
NightQueen Performance Suite
Theater, Musical Theater

NightQueen is an ecological, Afro-surreal performance suite that tells the story of an ensemble seeking hope in one another as their world is transformed by a global water crisis, unbridled network technologies, and resurgent fascism.

Julian Terrell Otis
Chicago, IL
Resolved: Critiquing Contemporary Music Through Improvised Performance
Music Performance, Artistic Activism

Inspired by the artist’s experience on the high school forensic debate team and its use of critical race theory, Resolved is a performance that facilitates dialogue and musical expression by convening the music and debate communities in knowledge sharing, rehearsals, and performance.

Will Rawls
Brooklyn, NY
Dance, Animation

[siccer] is a performance challenging the widespread citation and circulation of black bodies. In the work, gesture, voice, and stop-motion animation serve as vehicles for re-interpreting and transforming notions of citation and sense.

Tomeka Reid
Brooklyn, NY
Women of the AACM
Artistic Activism, Music Performance

As the Advancement of Creative Musicians moves towards its 60th anniversary, Women of the AACM celebrates the contributions of its female practitioners who have been an important part of the organization and its history through interviews, scores, photographs, and new visual art, poetry, and documentation.

Marc Anthony Richardson
Philadelphia, PA
The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast
Literary Fiction, Poetry

The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast is a speculative novel that takes place during a day of rioting, after the white rapists and murderers of a Black girl are released from jail without charges, and seven Black assassins seek retaliation.

Sandy Rodriguez
Los Angeles, CA
Book 13: After the Conquest – Codex Rodriguez Mondragon
Painting, Installation

In Book 13: After the Conquest – Codex Rodriguez Mondragon, Sandy Rodriguez expands her interdisciplinary research recuperating Indigenous history and ethnobotanology through an immersive installation.

Sherrill Roland
Durham, NC
The Jumpsuit Portal
Social Practice, Multimedia

In The Jumpsuit Project, Sherrill Roland wears the iconic, orange prison jumpsuit and engages people in conversation, disrupting spaces in the art world, higher education, and other places where issues around criminal justice do not normally appear.

Bayeté Ross Smith
New York, NY
Art of Justice
Artistic Activism, Installation

Art of Justice is a series of socially-engaging art installations and interventions at top tier law schools, law firms, and district attorneys’ offices that address contemporary social issues, including unconscious bias, economic justice, and political accountability.

Jules Rosskam
Philadelphia, PA
Desire Lines
Documentary Film

Situated at the intersection of sex, gender, and desire, Desire Lines is an immersive feature-length essay film comprised of one-on-one interviews, erotic encounters, observational footage, performed scenarios, and a fictional narrative presenting an abbreviated history of the bathhouse.

Legacy Russell
New York, NY
Literary Nonfiction, Digital Media

BLACK MEME identifies points across history that have paved the way for the construct and material of the “meme,” exploring the impact of Blackness, Black life, and Black social death on contemporary conceptions of virality borne in the age of the Internet.

Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Knoxville, TN
King Coal
Documentary Film, Experimental Film

King Coal employs magical realism and documentary vignettes of Appalachians to explore how coal is imbued in the region’s identity.

Débora Souza Silva
Oakland, CA
Black Mothers
Documentary Film, Artistic Activism

Black Mothers follows two women in a nationwide network of mothers whose African-American children were killed by police; as one mother navigates the aftermath of her son’s attack by police, the other channels her grief into a fight for justice.

Martine Syms
Los Angeles, CA
Dumb World
Narrative Film, Video Art

Martine Syms’s feature-length film, entitled Dumb World, explores how athleticism, race, and fame congeal around the violent ideologies embedded within the objects of technology with which we are most intimately connected.

Anna Tsouhlarakis
Boulder, CO
Indigenous Absurdities
Social Practice, Installation

In the visual art project Indigenous Absurdities, Anna Tsouhlarakis collects and deconstructs Indigenous jokes and comical stories as part of an investigation in reforming an understanding of Native American identity.

Jessica Vaughn
Brooklyn, NY
Working Procedures
Sculpture, Installation

Focusing on paraprofessionals, careworkers, and occupations that keep both private and state institutions running, Working Procedures examines the quotidian systems that dictate our understanding of labor, space, and inclusion.

Jordan Weber
Des Moines, IA
4MX Greenhouse
Artistic Activism, Architecture and Design

4MX Greenhouse is a structural artwork supporting holistic community health, built on the site where Malcolm X was born, and empowering participants to build resilience into their communities through direct action.

Simone White
Brooklyn, NY
or, on being the other woman
Poetry, Multimedia Performance

In or, on being the other woman, Simone White uses performance and writing to bring post-Marxist materialism into conversation with Black studies, asking, what is a Black woman who works to live?