Artist Trust Announces 2020 Fellowship Award Recipients 

Artist Trust is proud to announce the nine recipients of the 2020 Fellowship Awards: visual artists Dan Friday, Tatiana Garmendia, Mary Ann Peters, and Anthony White; performing artist Benjamin Hunter; multidisciplinary artists Jaleesa Johnston and Chris E. Vargas; and literary artists Rena Priest and Sharma Shields. Each is the recipient of an unrestricted cash award of $10,000.

“These nine artists from vastly different regions across Washington State exhibit incredibly exemplary work,” says Luther Hughes, Artist Trust Program Manager. “Writers, performers, musicians, photographers, painters—they are also in community with their peers doing necessary work, shining the light on injustices, reminding us of the power artists hold.”

Artist Trust Fellowships are merit-based awards providing support to practicing professional artists of exceptional talent and ability residing in Washington State. These unrestricted awards are given annually to artists of any discipline in recognition of artistic excellence and dedication to their practice. The first Fellowship Awards were selected in 1987, making it Artist Trust’s longest-running award program. Artist Trust’s support of artists, including the Fellowship program, is made possible thanks to donations from the community.

Multidisciplinary artist Jaleesa Johnston shared, “With this award, I can materialize ideas that have been sitting in my sketchbook over the last couple of years. As a queer Black artist making work that feels both urgent and necessary, I am excited to connect with and be in support with the Artist Trust community to share this work.”

In 2019, Artist Trust increased its Fellowships from $7,500 to $10,000 and added new opportunities through the award program, including the Vadon Foundation Native Artist Fellowship, for which Rena Priest was selected. The Vadon Foundation Native Artist Fellowship is a $10,000 award for Native artists presented in partnership with the Vadon Foundation, a Seattle-based foundation committed to sustaining healthy thriving indigenous nations. Rena Priest is a Poet and a member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She shared, “I’m beyond ecstatic to receive this award. It means validation and recognition for the many years I’ve devoted to writing. It also means honoring my family, my community, and my calling. I hope that this achievement will inspire young creatives in my tribal community to follow their hearts with faith and persistence, knowing that pursuing their passion with love and commitment will always bring about blessings and happiness.”

Artist Trust received 266 applications from artists across Washington State for Fellowship. An independent selection panel made up of artists and arts professionals representing a range of disciplines and practices reviewed the applications and met virtually over two days to select the awardees.

Visual artist Anthony White shared, “Being a recipient of a 2020 Fellowship Award has been only a dream until now. The Fellowship Award and the recognition that comes with it is motivating and encouraging, and it gives artists like me the kind of financial support that is hard to find; it is competitive, rare, and unmatched compared to others like it. This award means that my studio time is secured, my attention towards the process is uninterrupted, it provides the freedom to experiment in realms that have not yet been approached and gives me the opportunity to help pave a way for others to experience similar accomplishments. A 2020 Fellowship Award means more than what can be formulated with words. I will be forever grateful.”

The 2020 Fellowship awards were put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Artist Trust quickly pivoted our programs to rapid relief and response, launching The Artist Trust COVID-19 Relief Fund. Although relief funding continues to be a critical need, we understand the impact and importance our grantmaking programs have on our community. In 2021, we are maintaining our merit-based grants, which recognize and celebrate artists of all disciplines across Washington State, while also offering a new phase of the Artist Trust COVID-19 Relief Fund. We are excited to introduce our refreshed grants schedule.

Visual artist Tatiana Garmendia shared, “It goes without saying, COVID-19 has affected all of us in punishing ways and without this funding, I wouldn’t be able to take the next step in my practice. I’ve been painting over all my old canvases because I ran out of materials, limiting the scale of my work with understandable thrift. The Artist Trust Fellowship grants me the support to keep on making an impactful dialogue in the language of art and in the language of feminist revisionism, without the bridle of narrow commercial concerns.”

The next cycle of the Fellowship Awards open in October 2021, and the deadline to apply is November 8. Guidelines will be posted on the Artist Trust website in September.

More information about the 2020 Fellowship recipients and selection panelists is listed below. Fellowship award recipients’ biographies and work can be viewed on the Artist Trust website.


2020 Fellowship Recipients

Dan Friday, King County
Tatiana Garmendia, Snohomish County
Benjamin Hunter, King County
Jaleesa Johnston, Skamania County
Mary Ann Peters, King County
Rena Priest, Whatcom County*
Sharma Shields, Spokane County
Chris E. Vargas, Whatcom County
Anthony White, King County
*Recipient of the Vadon Foundation Native Artist Fellowship

2020 Fellowship Selection Panelists

Dawn Barron, artist & educator, Thurston County
Ginger Ewing, gallerist, Spokane County
David Dinnell, artist & 2019 GAP recipient, Pierce County
Johnaye Kendrick, artist & 2019 Fellowship recipient, Pierce County
Juan Alonso-Rodriguez, artist & 2019 Fellowship recipient, King County