Year In Review 2023

Artists guide everything we do at United States Artists.

In ways big and small, we look to our community of artists to shed light on the issues they face. With a fresh start to 2024 and a brand new cohort of fellows, we are now making space for our annual moment of reflection on the previous year and all the work that brought us to this moment.

Over the past year, we engaged in deep listening with creative practitioners and embarked on new strategies to meet their needs. We continued to explore USA’s role as a connector, bringing together artists, funders, and other members of our community — and we had a lot of fun doing it! In our publications, we cultivated playful spaces for deep analysis of artist practices and found exciting new ways to meet on common ground, turning convenings into opportunities for creative intervention and making.

It’s the moments of one-to-one connection with artists that truly makes USA a unique place. It’s impossible to work with artists in the way that we do without a deep appreciation for the individual USA staff who facilitate these relationships! In this spirit, we also wanted to highlight new additions to our team. Scattered throughout this year in review are personal highlights from our staff members, so you can hear from them directly about why they do what they do, and gain insight into the day-to-day processes and exchanges that make possible the seamless rollout of awards, publishing projects, and events.


Early in 2023, we were privileged to award artists and makers across twenty-one states and Puerto Rico, spanning every career stage and illuminating a breadth of artistic practices.

We celebrated forty-five fellowships to creative disruptors, social justice architects, and ingenious knowledge bearers who reimagine the purpose and use of the arts to push the social envelope. We also awarded the Berresford Prize to Maori Karmael Holmes, curator, filmmaker, and cultural worker. As a leader within arts, culture, and media spaces in the US, Maori’s approach is defined by passion, rigor, and a deep commitment to equitable social transformation.

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Roquin-Jon Quichocho Siongco weaving. Photo by Taiche Guahan.

[ID: A person sits in dense, shady foliage weaving coconut fronds, which are arranged like rays of the sun in their lap. They sit on a woven mat contemplating the frond held between their fingertips.]

2023 USA Fellow
Weaver and Fashion Designer
They // Them // Theirs

Roquin-Jon Quichocho Siongco

“I was just a kid messing around with leaves. I had no idea that it would grow into something where I would connect people with their heritage.”

From an interview with Guam Daily Post.

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Bukola Koiki leads a class. Photo by Colleen Kinsella.

[ID: A group of students wearing aprons and blue latex gloves stand around a woman painting at a table. She is speaking to the group, but does not look up from her painting. She has dark-brown skin and wears a headscarf, a blue button-down shirt, and a black apron.]

2023 USA Fellow
Conceptual Fiber Artist
She // Her // Hers

Bukola Koiki

“For many years, my forays into art from drawing to graphic design were greatly inspired by my Western education… Pivoting to craft led me back to the origin of my artistic aptitude. Being Nigerian and a descendant of the Yoruba ethnic group and diaspora is now a massive influence that lives in harmony with my inclinations towards design thinking and thinking through making.”

From an interview with Nigeria Abroad.

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Krystal prepares quails to cook over the fire. Photo courtesy of the artist.

[ID: A brown-skinned Black woman crouches in front of a wood fire. She’s wearing a white shirt, blue jeans, a sage-colored apron, and a chambray headwrap that covers her hair. The woman is preparing quail to cook over the fire by hanging them on S-hooks. A barn surrounded by woods is in the background.]

2023 USA Fellow
Food Designer and Social Practice Artist
She // Her // Hers

Krystal Mack

“I see myself as an artist but I understand the art world has a very institutionalized view of what art is or what can be art, especially from Black artists. I did not go to college or an arts high school. I didn’t really have anyone in my family encouraging the arts like that… So, my first experience with the arts was through the way it shows up culturally in the Black family, like cooking and crafting.”

From an interview with Baltimore Banner.

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Alex plays guitar. Photo by Sands Fish.

[ID: A black-and-white photograph of a thin woman with messy light-colored hair. She smiles while looking over her shoulder and holds an electric guitar in front of a microphone stand.]

2023 USA Fellow
Designer and Musician
She // Her // Hers

Alexis Hope

“My practice often involves teaching and learning, mentoring, and taking creative risks. I’m here to have fun and bring others along for the ride… This approach turns out to be a great match for co-founding a startup, which is what I’m up to now!”

From an interview with Design Milk.

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Portrait of Maori Karmael Holmes. Photo by Adachi Pimentel.

[ID: A Black woman with a braided updo stands smiling at the camera outdoors against a dark background. She wears a black cotton blouse, an embroidered flower necklace, and large brass hoop earrings.]

2023 Berresford Prize Awardee
Curator, Filmmaker, and Cultural Worker
She // Her // Hers

Maori Karmael

“The whole reason I’ve been interested in this space to begin with was because I knew there were people whose work was being overlooked — that continues to happen… We should exist everywhere — in period pieces to mumblecore indies. There should be Black, Brown, Indigenous, and others in all of these spaces.”

From an interview with Ebony Magazine.

The 2023 USA Fellowships were generously made possible by: Sarah Arison, Barr Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris Duke Foundation, Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity, Ford Foundation, David Horvitz and Francie Bishop Good, Good Chaos, Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Miranda Family Fund, Poetry Foundation, The Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Fred and Eve Simon Charitable Foundation, The Todd and Betiana Simon Foundation, Paul and Annette Smith, Walder Foundation, Katie Weitz, PhD, Windgate Foundation

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[ID: Luz smiles warmly at the camera. They are wearing a light blue turtle neck under a navy-blue collared shirt.]

Luz Orozco
Program Assistant
They // Them // Theirs

As our Program team has expanded in the past year, we’ve amped up the personalized support and resources for USA Fellowship applicants. During the busiest times, when our inbox is flooded with hundreds of questions, our team of four steps in by taking personalized calls, working closely with artists who have access needs, and providing feedback to applicants. This year, we had the highest turnout for our informative webinar in which over a 120 applicants attended to learn more and ask questions about the application process.

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Our Initiatives team continued its partnerships with foundations, philanthropists, and other field leaders to expand the arts ecosystem with unrestricted funding across regions and disciplines, announcing new cohorts for several established awards.

The Knight Arts + Tech Fellowship, a partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, awarded five artists funding for their practices which span across augmented reality, virtual reality, immersive installation, performance, artificial intelligence, and more. The Rainin Arts Fellowship, a partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, awarded four Bay Area artists working in dance, film, theater, and public space who are anchors in their communities.

Finally, The Maxwell/Hanrahan Awards in Craft in partnership with the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation, awarded five artists. The award, now in its second year, recognizes artists and craftspeople committed to material mastery and exploration. Their practices encompass the stewardship of living cultural traditions, unique insight in material study, and/or the advancement of craft at the intersection of other fields including technology and science.

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Aspenn Golann in their studio. Photo by Loam Marketing.

[ID: The artist poses in their studio space with a chair in process on the table beside them. Tools line the wall behind them.]

2023 Maxwell/ Hanrahan Awardee
She // Her // Hers
They // Them // Theirs

Aspenn Golann

“Furniture, I love how complicated it is … I love how long it takes to make. I love how it’s the type of art that gets woven into a household and to a place.”

From an interview with Portland Press Herald.

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Joanna Haigood, Departure and Arrival, 2007. Performance at the San Francisco International Airport. Pictured (clockwise): Ramon Ramos Alayo, Joanna Haigood, Robert Henry Johnson, and Maurya Kerr. Photo by Stephen Phillips.

[ID: Three orange armatures resembling houses are suspended by cables in the cavernous glass lobby of the San Francisco International Airport. Two aerial dancers perform within the suspended structure while two more perform on the ground below, reaching toward another orange house planted on the floor that appears to be halfway submerged.]

2023 Rainin Arts Fellow
Choreographer & Site Artist
She // Her // Hers

Joanna Haigood

“I think a creative practice and lens helps us understand the issues we face and, in many ways, offers useful strategies for collaboration and for a deeper level of listening to one another. Art has always played an important part in social and political activism and is an extraordinary bridge builder. Being an artist is the best way I know to support my community and the movements for positive change.”

From an interview with San Francisco Classical Voice.

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Portrait of Marlena Myles. Photo courtesy of the artist.

[ID: A Native American woman with brown skin, brown eyes, and shoulder-length brown hair looks off to the right at a three-quarter profile view. Her shirt and the background share the same colorful pattern, a comic book-style print of her own design, featuring a Native American woman flexing her arm with the phrases “We can do it” and “Land back.”]

2023 Knight Arts + Tech Fellow
Digital Media Artist
She // Her // Hers

Marlena Myles

“I didn’t think I would ever win awards like this. I think it also can be inspiring for other Dakota people, Dakota youth, to see someone being recognized… For a long time we have been erased or our voices aren’t seen, so these projects help people see the world through our eyes.”

From an interview with Star Tribune.

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[ID: Allie, a white person with chin-length dark blonde hair, bangs, and blue eyes, smiles at the camera. They wear a dark plaid button-up, a yellow hair bow, and wire-rim glasses.]

Allie Linn
Initiatives Manager
They // Them // Theirs

As a fully remote staff spread out across the country, we collaborate almost exclusively virtually, which can feel inherently at odds with the collective building, dialoguing, and world-building essential to this work. It is a real joy, then, to find small moments to safely convene as the pandemic continues. This past summer, the Initiatives team gathered artists and creative workers in Baltimore for dinner and conversation to discuss worker protections for artists, artist resources, and other pressing needs of creative workers.

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Events and Publishing

Throughout the year, USA’s events and publishing projects support artists directly with additional paid opportunities and venues to share their work with audiences.

We published three more issues of New Suns, our digital commissioning platform for new work, and conversations centering unique themes and creative practices. We introduced an index page to more easily browse past issues and contributors. In 2023, New Suns featured USA Fellows and other practitioners on themes including vessels, sampling, and translation — our very first collaborative issue with Mutual Mentorship for Musicians (M³).

We published a new edition of Shift Space, an annual digital publication exploring new media landscapes and spotlighting the Knight Arts + Tech Fellows, edited by Claudia La Rocco.

We held gatherings in spaces across the country with the purpose of connecting members of our community through conversation, dinners, and readings, which provided time and space to fuel conversations that help us build our understanding of the context for artists’ work.

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Judilee Reed and Salvador Jiménez Flores converse at a panel discussion at 21c Museum Hotel as part of Expo Chicago. Photo by Jeremy Lawson.

[ID: A man and woman sit in armchairs, each holding a microphone. The man speaks into the microphone, looking out toward the camera, while the woman listens. Artwork hangs on the white wall behind them.]

Panel Talk

Expo Chicago

As part of Chicago’s Art Week, Judilee, President & CEO of USA and Salvador Jiménez Flores, a 2021 USA Fellow, discussed the politics of identity and states of double consciousness, addressing issues of colonization, migration, “the other,” and futurism through a mixture of socially-conscious installation, public, and studio-based art.

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Joan Shigekawa, USA Board Member, surrounded by friends and colleagues. Photo by Christopher Briscoe.

[ID: A portrait of a woman with dark brown skin wearing a vibrant red dress against a white background. She smiles warmly.]

Dinner Evening

Honoring Joan Shigekawa

On the occasion of receiving the National Medal of the Arts from President Biden, we were thrilled to bring together a community of artists and arts advocates to the Center for Art, Research, and Alliances in New York City for an intimate evening in Joan’s honor.

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Jen Shyu, a 2019 USA Fellow, and Sara Serpa, Cofounders of Mutual Mentorship for Musicians (M³) introduce an evening of readings at the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Jenna Boscom.

[ID: Two women stand at a podium in front of a screen displaying the artwork for New Suns, Issue 9: Found in Translation: a black line drawing of a hand holding a flower whose petals are made of ears and eyes. On the lefthand side of the image, an ASL interpreter translates their speech.]

Launch Party

Reading and Publication Launch with M³

Alongside our special collaborative issue of New Suns, which featured twelve artists from Mutual Mentorship for Musicians (M³), we hosted a reading and launch event in Brooklyn to celebrate the newest editions of New Suns and M³’s Anthology of Writings.

Jessica Ferrer photo
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[ID: Jessica, a young person with shoulder-length dark brown hair and tan skin, smiles broadly. She wears brown glasses and a gray blouse.]

Jessica Ferrer
Program Manager
She // Her // Hers

For our ninth issue of New Suns, we facilitated conversations with twelve artists from Mutual Mentorship for Musicians (M³) about how they encounter translation in their creative practices and daily lives. M³ is an artist-led platform that was co-founded by Jen Shyu, 2019 USA Fellow in Music, and Sara Serpa to empower musicians from historically underrepresented identities and backgrounds. They have cultivated a community of artists from around the world who are committed to supporting each other and shaping music for the better.

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Our People

We had the pleasure of welcoming a number of new staff members to the team: Sól Casique, as Program Assistant; Rachel Denny as Advancement Director; Isabelle Hong Martin as Program Coordinator, Initiatives; and Shivani Somaiya as Advancement Assistant.

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Photo courtesy of Sól.

[ID: Sól is pictured wearing a jean jacket and a black beanie inside a bookstore. They are posing with a peace sign next to the anthology, Somewhere We Are Human which they are published in.]

Program Assistant
They // Them // Theirs

Sól Casique

My first year at USA has brought so much wonder and growth. Being involved with the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation, the Rainin Foundation, and many other initiatives has introduced me to incredible and life changing people and their practices. The USA team is the best I have ever been a part of, and I am forever grateful to spend this time to bring artists’ talents and dreams to the forefront.

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Photo courtesy of Rachel.

[ID: A woman with black curly hair tied into a messy bun smiles for the camera against a blue wall with white spray-paint art. She is wearing a red blouse with two dainty gold necklaces.]

Advancement Director
She // her // hers

Rachel Denny

The care and thoughtfulness that the United States Artists team brings to every component of our work is palpable. I love being a part of a team that is so passionate about supporting artists and also has a deep commitment to supporting one another. USA is a vibrant, fun, and compassionate community which I am proud to be a part of!

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Photo courtesy of Isabelle.

[ID: A woman smiles for a selfie wearing a yellow sweater and a beige puffer jacket with a red backpack and standing in front of a body of water.]

Program Coordinator, Initiatives
She // Her // Hers

Isabelle Hong Martin

Returning to USA has been a special kind of homecoming after serving as Development Intern (2018-2019) and staying involved throughout the years. USA’s work and mission have continued to expand in exciting and innovative ways, and as Program Coordinator, Initiatives, I’m thrilled to join this dynamic and mighty team to support so many talented, amazing artists!

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Photo courtesy of Shivani.

[ID: A young Indian woman with short dark-brown hair smiles for the photo with her red-haired Shih-poo dog.]

Advancement Assistant
She // Her // Hers

Shivani Somaiya

The best part about coming to USA has been the community. I am so thrilled to be surrounded by such an electric and creative community: from the artists that we work with through to my colleagues, USA is such a vibrant organization and it thrills me to be part of a collective that advances the livelihoods of artists across the country.

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[ID: An Asian-American woman with short black-and-white hair wears black rectangular glasses and a black shirt and smiles in front of a sunny window.]

Judilee Reed
President & CEO
She // Her // Hers

In 2023, my place at that organization felt rooted and I experienced increasing clarity about our work ahead. With almost two years of work alongside a talented and dedicated staff that helped me find my place in this work, it was hard to say good bye to Lu Zhang, Initiatives Director and Lee Heinemann, Initiatives Manager. Lu and Lee were key members of the Initiatives team and helped build our work, providing expertise and partnership to donors and philanthropies. Through their efforts United States Artists has helped leading foundations across the country achieve their goals for providing direct, unrestricted support to artists.

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Thanks for a great year of continuing to Believe in Artists together.