Fall Campaign Artist Spotlight: Eliaichi Kimaro

Since 1986, Artist Trust is proud to have forged long, meaningful relationships with artists throughout their careers, strengthening Washington State’s creative community together. This fall, we are proud to spotlight just a few of the thousands of artists who have become a vital part of the Artist Trust community—as grant recipients, workshop participants, teachers, mentors and panelists.

Multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro received a Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) award in 2010 and has stayed deeply connected to the Artist Trust community since then, most recently as a 2018 Fellowship recipient and artist partner for the Artist Trust Pop-Up Art Market at Amazon. We caught up with Eliaichi to hear how funding from Artist Trust has impacted her career, and why making art matters to her.

When you support our fall fund drive before December 31, you ensure that artists like Eliaichi have what they need to take risks, fuel change, and lead Washington State’s creative community bravely into the future. Give now!

How did you first hear about/get involved with Artist Trust?
I first heard about Artist Trust in 2008 when I was researching grant opportunities for my documentary film, A Lot Like You.

As the recipient of multiple grants, a workshop participant, and most recently a Pop-Up Art Market artist, what inspires you to maintain a relationship with Artist Trust? What programming has been particularly meaningful to you?
Over the years, Artist Trust has helped me grow as an artist, learn how to talk about my work and conduct my business, connect with amazing mentors, and share my work with new audiences. Every webinar and workshop I’ve attended has been packed with insightful information that I put to immediate use. Serving as a grant panelist opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of creative artists across Washington State. And I appreciate Artist Trust’s commitment to work towards racial equity in their programming and funding.

How has Artist Trust’s impact on your life as a working artist changed over your career? For instance, what was the difference, if any, between receiving a GAP in 2009 and a Fellowship nine years later?
In 2009, I was searching for finishing funds. Receiving the GAP grant at this critical time helped fuel my push to complete my film. Nine years later, now working as an emerging visual artist, I was fortunate enough to receive the Fellowship award. This award has elevated my confidence as a self-taught artist and creative storyteller who’s willing to learn whatever medium it takes to tell the story that is emerging. From music to film to writing to photography to art, this public acknowledgement of support from Artist Trust lends credibility to the growing body of work I am producing across mediums. And honestly, given that my work is deeply personal (exploring my cultural inheritance and legacy through family narratives), this validation is social/cultural capital that I can leverage to open doors that I might not have access to otherwise.

There are a lot of causes worthy of support right now – why do you think people should support individual artists?
There are so many worthy causes vying for our urgent attention right now. I don’t feel I can speak to why arts, and supporting individual artists, should matter to people. All I can do is share why making art matters to me:

I have been thinking about how to articulate why creating art that is deeply personal feels so politically charged. Even if the themes in my art aren’t overtly political, daring to believe that my perspective—as a queer, mixed-race, black-skinned daughter of immigrants, as a rape survivor and a middle-aged mother—would matter to anyone but me is a revolutionary act.

Daring to believe that the world through my eyes is relevant and beautiful and worthy of consideration, of being framed and beautifully lit, hung on gallery walls or in people’s homes is an act of defiance, especially at a time when social/cultural/political forces are hell-bent on eradicating all that I embody and love. This “daring to believe” is precisely why I create art…