Meet the “No Strings Attached” Fellowship Recipients Who Got $15,000 from a Benedictine Monk

There aren't a whole lot of mentors for ceramicists these days, but Brother Thomas Bezanson is certainly one of them. Bezanson was a Benedictine monk and world-renowned ceramic artist who enlisted the Boston Foundation to help him support Boston artists. The Boston Foundation announced the winners of the 2013 Brother Thomas Fellowships, which are $15,000 “no strings attached” awards to support artists during critical points in their careers. (Read Boston Foundation: Boston Area Grants).

While living in monasteries in Vermont and Pennsylvania, Brother Thomas created works of pottery that are now included in more than 80 museums and private collections. Boston's Museum of Fine Arts was one of the first institutions that recognized his talent and currently owns 16 of his works.

A Pakistani-born multimedia visual and installation artist, Ambreen Butt, is one of the 2013 Thomas Fellows thanks to her mastery of traditional Indian and Persian miniature painting. Choreographer Lorraine Chapman was awarded a fellowship to promote her work on a national stage by joining the Gallery at Pentacle in New York. A tap dancer, Sean Fielder was awarded the fellowship to build up his already-impressive dance resume.

Fellowship recipient Ekua Holmes, is a collage artist who takes unexpected items to create images that reflect her community and the people who shaped it. Matti Koler, a Russian-born Israeli composer who combines traditional religious chants with modern jazz, was awarded the fellowship or illuminating the tragic plights of Jewish people and Native Americans with music. Surprisingly, the only ceramic artist who was awarded the fellowship was Megumi Naitoh. This Japanese-born artist uses Roman mosaics to depict daily life and explore the relationship between humans and technology.

Clearly, each of these artists is working in very diverse fields. The one thing that ties them (and Brother Thomas) together is their relationship to Boston. Brother Thomas has long-term ties to the city, thanks to the Pucker Gallery on Newbury Street, which represented him throughout his artistic career. Each of the 2013 award recipients grew up in Boston, went to school in Boston, perform in Boston, or have made their homes in Boston. To learn more about getting your hands on one of these unrestricted art awards, start getting familiar with the Boston Foundation's Brother Thomas Fund.