Joan Mitchell Foundation: Grants for Visual Arts

OVERVIEW: The Joan Mitchell Foundation is named after the late artist and inspired by her mission. The foundation supports a variety of grant programs, artist residencies, and other support programs for visual artists.

IP TAKE: The Joan Mitchell Foundation prioritizes painters and sculptors and awards lucrative grants and residencies for different career phases and professional circumstances. Applications are typically either invite-only, or alternately come about once direct and meaningful contact is established with the foundation.

PROFILE: The Joan Mitchell Foundation was established in 1993, the year after artist Joan Mitchell’s death. The foundation seeks “to fulfill the ambitions of Joan Mitchell to aid and assist contemporary artists and to demonstrate that painting and sculpture are significant cultural necessities.” It funds grants programs, artist residencies, and other support programs for visual artists and visual arts organizations.

The foundation’s tentpole grant program is its Painters and Sculptors Grant Program, which provides $25,000 of unrestricted funds to 25 individual artists on an annual basis. The foundation seeks to support those who are “currently under-recognized for their creative achievements, and whose practice would significantly benefit from the grant.” Beyond that, the foundation does not discriminate based on geography, age, or career-stage.

This is an incredibly rare type of grant for a visual artist. Consequently, the foundation does not have an open application process. Rather, applicants are by nomination only—and the nominators are kept anonymous. So are the jurors who ultimately evaluate the applicants. The foundation will only disclose that these nominators and jurors are “prominent visual artists, curators, and art educators who are dedicated to supporting artists.”

The foundation keeps thorough lists of its previous Painters and Sculptors Grant winners, which can be viewed here.

The foundation also has a second visual artist grant program, the Joan Mitchell Center Artist in Residence Grant Program. The program offers “space and time for artists to create work in a contemplative environment, focusing on the transformative possibilities of a residency experience.”

In an interview, Gia Hamilton, the director of the Joan Mitchell Center, describes this residency center and program that “seeks to serve a diverse group of visual artists from the local, national and international communities.” The foundation, Hamilton continues, is “committed to providing time, space and resources for artists that account for their changing needs as well as develop programming that invite new audiences into the contemporary art community.”

The Joan Mitchell Foundation also maintains an Emergency Grant Program to assist visual artists who “have suffered significant loss due to natural or man-made disasters that have affected their community.” (This phrasing is important; the foundation is direct in saying that while it is empathetic, they cannot give support in response to personal emergencies.) These grants are extended to artists who work in drawing as well as painters and sculptors. When it comes to this support, the foundation is discrete. It does not list previous grantees, and requests that you send an email ( to start a conversation regarding your need.

The foundation offers the Emerging Artist Grant Program, an initiative designed to assist emerging visual artists across the United States. This program awards “a diverse group of ten artists with an unrestricted grant of $12,000 per artist in addition to professional support throughout the year." 

The Joan Mitchell Foundation also commits to supporting visual arts organizations that in turn support visual artists. Through its Organizational Grant Program, the foundation funds visual arts non-profits throughout the country for visual arts programming, exhibitions, artist publications, professional development, and website development. The foundation prioritizes organizations that value collaboration and diversity, with missions to create “fairer, more just communities.”

Finally, the foundation partners with both individual visual artists and visual arts organizations for a program named Creating a Living Legacy. This program organizes, inventories, and creates comprehensive documentation of a visual artist’s work and career. A list of initial participants (both artists and organizations) can be found here. Grant seekers interested in participating in this program are encouraged to contact the foundation’s Artist Support Associate, Shervone Neckles-Ortiz, at


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