Artist Trust Announces 2019 Arts Innovator Award Recipients

Published: February 19, 2019

Categories: Grants & Fellowships | Press Releases

February 19, 2019 – Humaira Abid and Lucia Neare are the recipients of the 2019 Arts Innovator Award. Funded by The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation, the Arts Innovator Award (AIA) comprises two unrestricted awards of $25,000 that recognize Washington State artists of all disciplines who demonstrate innovation in their practice.

This year’s Arts Innovator Award recipients create works that explore a sense of place and belonging, and participation in daily life. Challenging our preconceived notions of connection and empathy, both Abid and Neare use their work to address institutional, social, political, and economic barriers. Expounding upon themes such as women’s daily lives, stereotypes, and taboos, to reimaging urban landscapes as a place for radical joy, they create work that can’t be defined by traditional or conventional standards.

“I don’t follow any rules. I don’t gather many tools or materials. When I have an idea, I go find a solution – I buy, borrow, or rent to achieve desired results, explore possibilities, keep working until the artwork is resolved and will surprise people. Then I move on to more challenging work,” said 2019 Arts Innovator Award recipient Humaira Abid. “This funding and award won’t only give me financial support to push the boundaries even more and do the unthinkable – it will be a recognition of my work, direction, and passion.”

“Tens of thousands of people have experienced my large-scale performances, yet, for the better part of the past 13 years, I’ve lived – and created my work out of – a friend’s one-room basement,” said Lucia Neare, 2019 Arts Innovator Award recipient. “The Innovator Award [will] help me secure studio space befitting my large-scale work. And would help me invest in the infrastructure to take my art to communities worldwide – so I can continue to inspire kindness and radical joy in the public realm.”

Humaira Abid is a sculpture and miniature painting artist, who spent her formative years in Lahore, Pakistan. Challenging the artistic media traditional for women, Abid studied Sculpture and miniature painting at the National College of the Arts in Lahore and graduated with honours in 2000. Abid’s commitment to her artistic career is illustrated by her continuous participation in gallery and museum exhibitions, residencies, fairs, biennials, symposiums and workshops around the world. She has been reviewed in numerous publications and the subject of multiple documentaries including the NW Emmy Nominated ‘Heartwood’. Now based in the Pacific-Northwest, she still maintains a studio in Lahore, with frequent guest lecturing and gallery shows in Pakistan. Through her work, Abid pushes the boundaries acceptable for women within Pakistan, while challenging preconceptions about Pakistani culture as her work is exhibited on the global stage. She shows the stains of the political and the social at the scale of the personal.

Lucia Neare creates large-scale theatre in public places. Her productions transform urban landscapes into free-to-everyone participatory dreamworlds – moments in time that model a generous society where all are welcome. Her work speaks to the potential of humans to connect across difference – neighbor to neighbor, stranger to stranger. These performances, or Wonders, revive a more inclusive, celebratory, and imaginative model for public life. Since 2006, this site-specific theatre artist, director, producer, designer, sculptor, writer, soprano, and de facto urban planner has created some 50 such works, which drew together tens of thousands across the Pacific Northwest to experience what Lucia calls Revolutionary Kindness. In 2014, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation bestowed one of its inaugural Impact Awards on Lucia for these pioneering spectacles. The City of Seattle awarded Lucia its 2012 Mayor’s Arts Award, and that same year she was appointed Artist-in-Residence for both Seattle and the City of Redmond. Additionally, she is a 2009 recipient of the Artist Trust Fellowship. More recently, Lucia was Artist-in-Residence at Seattle’s ACT Theatre, where, with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, she founded and led a 20-member cultural think tank that explored the intersection of theatre, technology, Millennial Culture, and the quality of public life in the Digital Age. Regionally, Neare’s work has been commissioned and supported by Seattle Art Museum, 4Culture, Artist Trust, Washington State Arts Commission, Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Seattle City Light, On the Boards, Seattle Arts Commission, and Seattle Parks and Recreation. Neare studied Theatre/Contemporary Performance at Naropa University, and holds a degree from Mount Holyoke College.

“Artist Trust is honored to support the beautiful, provocative, and innovative work of Humaira and Lucia with the 2019 Arts Innovator Award.” said Artist Trust CEO Shannon Halberstadt “We deeply appreciate the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation’s commitment to nurturing the innovative artistic spirit of our region, and their profound support of Washington State artists through Arts Innovator Award.”

“Art has the power to inspire critical thinking, open doors to new dialogue, and build stronger connections within our communities,” said Leslie Jackson Chihuly, co-founder of The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation. “It is a privilege for me and Dale to support artists and their creative process through the Arts Innovator Award.”

First presented in 2010, the Arts Innovator Award is given to artists who are originating new work, experimenting with new ideas, taking risks, and pushing the boundaries in their respective fields. A total of 132 applications were received across four disciplinary categories: visual, literary, performing, or media. Past Arts Innovator Award recipients can be viewed on the Artist Trust website.

2019 Arts Innovator Award Finalists

Alice Gosti, King County

Allison Kudla, King County

Neely Goniodsky, King County

Preston Singletary, King County

Tessa Hulls, Jefferson County

2019 Arts Innovator Award Panelists

Emily Kelly, Director of Mad Art, King County

Rick Barot, Poet & PLU Professor, Pierce County

Ella Mahler, Choreographer, King County

Ana Pinto da Silva, Founder, Pecha Kucha Seattle, King County

Joshua Heim, City of Bellevue Arts Manager, Snohomish County

About The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation
The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation’s mission is to inspire and educate the public regarding all forms of art, and to provide support to artists and arts organizations.

About Artist Trust
Artist Trust is a nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines in order to enrich community life throughout Washington State. Since its founding in 1986, Artist Trust has invested over $10 million in individual artists through grant programs, and provides a comprehensive suite of professional development training and resources to help artists achieve their career goals. Learn more at