2024 Arts Innovator Award Finalist Cohort

Published: June 6, 2024

Categories: Artists | Featured | Grants & Fellowships

2024 Arts Innovator Award

Introducing the 2024 Arts Innovator Award Finalist Cohort! 

Anida Yoeu Ali and Kamari Bright were selected as this year’s AIA recipients from a cohort of eight finalists by a multidisciplinary panel comprised of five artists from across the state. We are excited to introduce the 2024 AIA Finalist Cohort: Stephen Anunson (Media, King County), Jade Solomon Curtis (Performing, King County), Jaleesa Johnston (Visual, Skamania County), Haein Kang (Visual, King County), Olivia Stephens (Literary, King County), and Anthony Thambynayagam (Media, King County).


Stephen Anunson

Stephen Anunson (Media, King County)

Stephen is a filmmaker, photographer and performer engaging with queer and trans nightlife and performing artists.

They are the producer and host of The Chair Show; a live variety/drag/talk show featuring Mona Real, Sneaky Boo, Kylie Mooncakes and Issa Man with special guests including Solana Solstice, Saira Barbaric, Ade, Fox Whitney, and Cucci. Digital versions of each episode will be available in the future.

Their feature film: The Boy Who Lived Before is available on YouTube.


Jade Solomon Curtis

Jade Solomon Curtis (Performing, King County)

Jade Solomon Curtis, originally from Lubbock, Texas, is a Seattle-based award-winning choreographer, dance artist, and curator.

Through the lens of a Black woman, her works integrate Black vernacular movements, contemporary dance, and technology to explore the body as an artifact of memory, space, and time. Curtis is the founder of Solo Magic, a non-profit arts initiative collaborating with innovative artists to create socially relevant experiences, and the founder and curator of the globally focused residency program Radical Black Femme Project (RBFP).

Artist Trust profile

Jaleesa Johnston

Jaleesa Johnston (Visual, Skamania County)

Jaleesa Johnston is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and independent curator currently living and working in the Pacific Northwest. She holds a BA from Vassar College, an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MA from the University of Bergen in Norway.

Her interdisciplinary art practice explores the ruptured space between the subjectivity and objectivity of the Black female body. Jaleesa’s curatorial interests and research include the residual imprint of ephemeral works in institutional spaces, with a focus on Black performance work.

Artist Trust profile

Haein Kang

Haein Kang (Visual, King County)

Haein Kang is a new media artist who explores the unknown.

She holds a Ph.D. in Digital Arts and Experimental Media from the University of Washington for her research on artistic illusion using brain-computer interfaces. Her data-driven sound installation received a Prix Ars Electronica Honorary Mention. Haein is committed to expanding the awareness of art through the expressive use of science and technology.

Artist Trust profile

Olivia Stephens

Olivia Stephens (Literary, King County)

Olivia Stephens is a graphic novelist, illustrator, and writer from the Pacific Northwest. Her comics often utilize supernatural elements to explore grief, rage, and profound tenderness.

Currently, Olivia is working on DARLIN’ AND HER OTHER NAMES, a werewolf-western-horror-romance comic that she self-publishes online. The first installment of DARLIN’ AND HER OTHER NAMES won the 2023 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Artist. Olivia has also won a Fellowship Award from Artist Trust and attended residencies at Tin House, Mineral School, Storyknife, MacDowell, and Yaddo. She earned her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017.

Artist Trust profile

Anthony Thambynayagam

Anthony Thambynayagam (Media, King County)

A Sri Lankan Tamil American filmmaker based in Georgetown, Seattle, Thambynayagam has earned multiple awards for films that resonate with diverse audiences. He serves as a board member of the Georgetown Super 8 Film Festival, where he blends creative and organizational roles. He co-founded Jung & Wild, a production company committed to innovative storytelling. In 2023, their work received a significant boost from a grant by the Georgetown Association of Arts & Culture, which supported the production of ‘Movie Star,’ a series that champions community filmmaking. Through his projects, he is committed to expanding the boundaries of traditional cinema and amplifying underrepresented voices.




Funding for this award is generously donated by the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation. 

2024 AIAAnida Yoeu AliAnthony ThambynayagamArts Innovator AwardGrant AnnouncementGrant RecipientHaein KangJade Solomon CurtisJaleesa JohnstonKamari BrightOlivia StephensStephen Anunson