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Artist Profile Series: Kisha Lewellyn Schlegel

Erika Enomoto

Communications Manager

After over a decade of publishing essays in literary journals, 2015 Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) award recipient Kisha Lewellyn Schlegel of Walla Walla released her first book titled FEAR ICONS on October 8, 2018.

Seven years in the making, FEAR ICONS is an essay collection on the ways that fear impacts our perceptions of one another. “I wanted to think more about how we relate to each other when we are afraid. To ask, ‘Who are we to each other when we’re afraid?’ To engage this question, I consider iconic images that summon and soothe our fears. From Donald Trump to the Virgin Mary, Darth Vader to the Dalai Lama, these icons reveal the complex relationship that exists between love and fear—and the ways that each intensifies the other,” shared Kisha.

An Assistant English Professor at Whitman College, Kisha received a GAP award which she used to help offset childcare expenses. “I needed additional childcare and wasn’t sure how to cover those costs,” she explained. “The GAP award gave me enough money for 100 hours of childcare. 100 hours.”

In 2016, she began submitting FEAR ICONS to book contests and last year, it received the inaugural Gournay Prize from Mad Creek Books.

For artists looking at pursuing grants, awards, and other opportunities, Kisha offers two pieces of advice. “First, carefully read the application instructions and then be sure to follow them. Second, tell a story about the work you do/will do. Include details. Be specific. Joyful. And honest.” On the process of applying, she adds, “The best part is that even if I don’t get a grant, I always find that the process of filling out an application helps refine my thinking—and sometimes lets me find the thing I’m really trying to do.”

Kisha is currently in the beginning phase of generating new work, and loving it. “Now that I’m finished with the book, I want to return to writing without wanting anything from it. I’ve been in the mode of revising and finishing work for so long that I’m devoted to being in the process of beginning for as long as possible.”

Learn more about Kisha and her new book FEAR ICONS on her website.