Back in December of 2014, the Kresge Foundation began accepting applications for its 2015 round of Kresge Artist Fellowships. A few weeks ago, it announced the 18 winning Detroit-based visual artists and writers who'll each enjoy a cool $25,000.
Something interesting happened in between these two events.
Specifically, Kresge decided to launch a new $5,000 award to further support artists from Detroit and the surrounding areas. It's called the Gilda Awards, named after Detroit-based artists and arts supporter Gilda Snowden, and the two winners were chosen from the Kresge Artist Fellowship applicant pool by the same panels that selected fellows in the literary and visual arts.
The winners are literary artist Maia Asshaq and visual artist Sacramento Knoxx. Ms. Asshaq is an experimental poet, bookmaker, and co-founder of the DittoDitto bookstore and publishing house in Corktown, located just west of Downtown Detroit. Sacramento Knoxx, whose real name is Christopher Yepez, describes himself as "an Ojibwe/Anishinaabe and Xicano emcee, music producer, motion picture artist, digital media artist and community cultural worker" from Southwest Detroit.
According to Kresge, both were selected on the basis of being at an "early stage in their careers, gaining career momentum and demonstrating exceptional potential through creative risk-taking, and pushing the boundaries of their art forms."
When compared to their applicant counterparts, the Kresge Artist Fellows, these Gilda Award winners seem to reside on the more experimental end of the artistic spectrum. In fact, as we noted in a related post, we came to the uncomplicated conclusion that Kresge is looking for artists who "convey a sense of renewal and regeneration in the wake of Detroit's financial woes." Our sense is that this urgency seems to be less acute and upfront in its Gilda Award winners.
Moving forward, similar panels will select two 2016 Gilda Awardees for unrestricted cash awards in this two-year initiative, one each in dance/music and film/theater, the 2016 Kresge Artist Fellowship categories.