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An Appeal from Leo Berk & Claire Cowie

Leo Berk & Claire Cowie

Artist Trust Grant Recipients

Leo, Claire and daughter Tabitha.

Choosing to live life as an artist is a leap of blind faith, yet for us, our drive is to create art. Artist Trust has supported us both since our early days of committing to our craft: it has truly been a catalyst for us, and countless other artists, to pursue our creative ideas and share our art in the community.

We are writing to ask for your financial support of Artist Trust, an organization that is a lifeline to so many artists throughout Washington. Artist Trust is unlike other organizations in Washington in that it is solely dedicated to supporting individual artists. Support can make all the difference to an artist’s success in creating and presenting new work and enriching community through art-an essential element of our lives.

We’d like to share more about our lives as artists. When Leo was six, his family moved from rural England to suburban Chicago. Their new home was an eccentric architectural icon: a strange, one-of-a-kind house. Illustrating the power of an aesthetic environment, it shaped Leo’s life and his art. When Leo won the 2010 Arts Innovator Award, after years of artistic development, he returned to explore the house, taking a week-long residency and producing a new body of work. Like that house, Artist Trust propels artists through the full span of their careers.

Claire grew up in North Carolina, where her mother is an artist. Spending countless hours in her mother’s studio as a child shaped Claire’s future. She attended the North Carolina School of the Arts and gradually made her way across the country to Seattle, where she is proud to be a part of this supportive arts community. As a teaching artist, Claire meets the challenge of continuing her own artistic practice, showing at Seattle’s James Harris Gallery and the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland.

We met while we were both working towards Master of Fine Arts degrees at the University of Washington. We fell in love and started a family. As parents who are both working artists, we continually face the challenge of paying the bills. Yet Artist Trust helps us sustain our momentum to keep creating art, by giving us, and artists throughout the state, the recognition and resources that we need to continue.

Artist Trust has supported our work at critical junctures. We have each been fortunate to receive Grants for Artist Projects (GAP), providing crucial funds to take our work to new levels. The beauty of the GAP is that it explicitly funds artists’ visions: Leo’s first GAP in 2001 went towards buying resin, a substance so expensive that he would use only a tiny bit. The GAP provided an adequate supply for Leo to complete his art as he envisioned it. In 2002 and 2004, we were honored with Visual Arts Fellowships.

Works we made with support from the GAP and Fellowships brought us new opportunities to enrich the community through art. Over the years, we have given back to the organization that has helped us by donating to the annual Benefit Art Auction. Please join us in enriching all of our lives and community by supporting Artist Trust, and the artists of Washington State.

Be a creative catalyst! Make a donation or become a member today.

From our hearts, thank you for your generosity.

Leo Berk & Claire Cowie

Claire & Leo in the Community

Claire’s work is in the permanent collections of Amgen, 4Culture, Henry Art Gallery, Microsoft, Swedish Cancer Institute, Tacoma Art Museum and the University of Missouri.

Leo’s concept for the new University of Washington Sound Transit Station is an underground planetarium, to be completed in 2014.