20/20 Emerging Artists Fellowship Awardees Announced: Ten Artists Receive $2000 and Exhibitions

PLAYGROUND DETROIT is pleased to announce the selection of 10 Artist Fellows chosen for the inaugural 20/20 Emerging Artists Fellowship, a two-year juried program. Starting in 2020, twenty emerging Detroit artists will receive $2,000 awards each to develop their individual practices. As a result, new bodies of artwork will be created and accompanied by programming in any of the following categories: gallery exhibition, off-site exhibition, performance installation or site-specific installation. 

An online-exclusive group exhibition of awardee artwork will be presented on Artsy, opening on Saturday, May 16, 2020. A portion of artwork sales will be donated to Gleaners Food Bank amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Inaugural selected ten artists include: BakPak Durden, Patrick Ethen, Caroline Del Giudice, Frank Lepkowski, Sheila Nicolin, Rachel Pontious, Cristin Richard, Lindsay Splichal, Antonia Stoyanovich and Sun Wang.

“What stands out to me about each of the chosen artists, is that they have all developed a clear, distinct, and mature artistic voice, while simultaneously striving to expand and push their practices even further,” says Selection Committee Member, Scott Campbell. “I think the desire to challenge oneself even after finding something that undoubtedly works is the key to interesting work, a long career and ultimately what makes this group so exciting.”

The 20/20 Emerging Artists Fellowship recognizes ambitious artists who are early in their careers and demonstrate artistic potential through creative risk-taking. The artists will receive professional mentorship, develop their individual practices and gain support during a critical point in their careers. The goal of the fellowship is to identify, celebrate and elevate emerging Detroit artistic excellence by providing much-needed resources. 

The Selection Committee reviewed an overwhelming response of 163 artist submissions. The finalists represent a range of disciplines including site-specific installation, sculpture, light, performance art, new media, printmaking, painting and mixed media practices. The 2020 Selection Committee included Co-founders Paulina Petkoski and Samantha B Schefman, along with Visual Artist and Curator, Scott Vincent Campbell;  Gallery Director of David Klein Gallery, Christine Schefman; and Collector and Philanthropist, Paul Jacobs.

“It’s exciting to be able to support artists with financial awards as a small organization, in addition to providing mentorship and gallery experience,” says Paulina Petkoski, program manager of the initiative and Co-founder of PLAYGROUND DETROIT.  “Detroit’s creative community is full of talented, dedicated artists, which enables a thriving arts scene—however, it remains severely underfunded even as a recognized driving force in the city. We are proud to directly fund artists, especially now during this global crisis.”

Due to current restrictions on events and public gatherings, the schedule of individual Fellow exhibitions is pending, and have been postponed until further notice. However, the artists are continuing to work on developing and create artwork for their planned exhibition, with dates to be announced.

20/20 Emerging Artists Fellows 2020:

Bakpak Durden (Image courtesy of artist).

Bakpak Durden

Bakpak Durden is an interdisciplinary fine artist making work about the human condition using a range of mediums including oil, acrylic, and latex paint, graphite and their own photography to create a hyperrealistic, conceptual style paintings that speak to their personal narrative and an intimate relationship to their subjects.

Patrick Ethen (Image courtesy of artist).

Patrick Ethen

Patrick Ethen uses light as a medium to explore emergent and ephemeral behavior, using meticulously wired arrays of electronics to construct installations which envelop the viewer in a meditative, immersive aura which feels simultaneously human and artificial.

Caroline Del Giudice (Image courtesy of artist).

Caroline Del Giudice

Caroline Del Giudice is an interdisciplinary multi-media sculptor with a focus on metal fabrication. Her creative practice exists at the intersection of cultural studies and fabrication and explains her practice as an investigation into ‘the problem with knowing.’

Frank Lepkowski (Image courtesy of artist).

Frank Lepkowski

Frank Lepkowski explores the role of modern technology in society, both in his subject matter and his artistic process. Intertwining digital media tools and analog techniques, he creates maximalist, multi-layered compositions that include embroidery in his paintings and installations that reflect the noise and stimuli of the digital age. 

Sheila Nicolin (Image courtesy of artist).

Sheila Nicolin

Sheila Nicolin is a painter with an emphasis on portraiture and pattern. Her work explores the relationship between human intimacy and disconnect narrated from a voyeuristic perspective, to create surrealist glimpses into authentic and vulnerable experiences surrounding loneliness, mental illness and desire. She parallels closeness and alienation by utilizing expressive mark-making, garish color and dissociative pattern in order to create an unreliable and sometimes dishonest story of intimacy.

Rachel Pontious (Image courtesy of artist).

Rachel Pontious

Rachel Pontious is a visual artist that paints abstracted or unnavigable spaces with figures and objects of different planes or perspectives, shifting between the ontological levels of reality and illusion. She is currently interested in homosocial relationships, object-oriented feminism, and bar culture as a space of intimacy. Her current work uses tarot cards and their history to conjure the ‘archive of feelings’ associated with the antisocial turn in queer theory, including but not limited to failure, negativity, spite, sincerity, intensity and disappointment. 

Cristin Richard (Image courtesy of artist/credit ee berger).

Cristin Richard

Cristin Richard is a fine artist that makes sculpture, collage, performance and installations that create shared immersive experiences, opportunities for the public to engage in challenging, yet universal subject matter. The experiential nature of her productions make the underlying concepts accessible and encourages the audience to question themselves and their surrounding to bring forth a sensitive and emotional viewpoint. Her work seemingly forces people to slow down and take it in and believes the future depends on our ability to exchange ideas and empathize each other.

Lindsay Splichal (Image courtesy of artist).

Lindsay Splichal

Lindsay Splichal builds space-responsive print monotypes reflecting on the familiarity of the domestic in her family’s construction heritage through the vehicles of printmaking, sculpture, and installation.

Antonia Stoyanovich (image courtesy of artist)

Antonia Stoyanovich

Antonia Stoyanovich is a photographer and visual artist creating lens based media. Raised in the American West she utilizes its history and imagery to create work that embraces notions of place, nostalgia, and mythology. 

Sun Wang (image courtesy of artist).

Sun Wang

Sun Wang is a painter originally from China, he now lives and works in the greater Detroit area of Pontiac. In his paintings, he uses multiple still vignettes to tell stories in discontinuous, but interconnected storyboards. These each integrate different styles and cultural elements to reveal the conflict between the narrative and these nonlinear storyboards. This perceived conflict provides an opportunity to visually weave multiple narrative angles, synthesizing a style of storytelling more often associated with literature and film.

PLAYGROUND DETROIT is hosting a preview exhibition on Artsy, opening to the public online-only on Saturday, May 16th, 2020. A portion of artwork sales will be donated to Gleaners Food Bank amid the COVID-19 crisis.

In addition to the Artsy preview, an accompanying online-only group exhibition entitled Hard to Choose, Hard to Lose, will feature honorable mention artists. The title represents not only the difficulty in choosing the winners amongst the many who demonstrate artistic potential and excellence, it also references its timeliness related to the effects of the pandemic crisis and the direct impact on artists during this time.

The arts, widely considered a luxury market, is one of the hard-hit industries when the economy stands on shaky ground. Simultaneously art inspires and heals; making it especially worth celebrating and supporting now.

This program is supported by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as a Knight Arts Challenge Detroit 2019 winning project. 

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