Tumultuous times inspire great art.
Glass artist Jaime Guerrero is creating life-sized glass sculptures of angels to honor those who have lost their lives to acts of racism. Sculptor Lindsey Scherloum is building two pieces that communicate contemporary environmental issues. Film and video artist Mariah Torres is producing a half-hour comedy series about her experiences living in her car in New York City.
These and other works are being funded by Investing in Professional Artists. The joint grant-making program of The Pittsburgh Foundation, Heinz Endowments and Opportunity Fund awarded $170,000 to individual artists and art programs throughout the city.
Since 2011, 142 artists and organizations have received $2.1 million through the program. Its goal is to support creative development for professional artists, create career advancement and recognition opportunities for artists, encourage creative partnerships among artists and local organizations, and increase the visibility of working artists.
This year’s grant cycle also includes $50,000 each to the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) and the Office of Public Art (OPA) for special initiatives in response to the coronavirus.
GPAC will use the funds to aid individual artists who are struggling due to cancellations and lost ticket revenue related to the pandemic. At least 90 percent of the money will support artists of color, with 70 percent of funds going directly to Black artists and 50 percent of this portion to applicants who identify as Black women.
OPA’s grant will bolster the Artists in the Public Realm in the Time of COVID-19 program. This new initiative will result in a series of artist commissions and professional development opportunities for at least 20 artists in the Pittsburgh region. The program will consist of three project cycles focused on the communities most adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including Black, Latinx, Asian-American and LGBTQIA+ artists.
Other individual $10,000 awardees include:
Literary artist Jari Bradley, who is developing a manuscript for “Unruly,” a full-length collection of poems that centers on the unconventional Black queer body.
Darnell Chambers, a visual artist organizing an exhibition of comic book-style illustrations as a storyboard for “Run Back Town,” a three-season animation series focused on ancient African history and folktales.
Dancer/choreographer Pearlann Porter, who is producing a new full-length work called “mirror/360.”
Sculptor Rachel Mica Weiss, who is creating a large-scale, concrete public artwork that will be installed outdoors at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
All submissions were reviewed by a panel of artists.