Joan Mitchell Foundation: Grants for Visual Arts

OVERVIEW: The Joan Mitchell Foundation gets its name from the late artist and is inspired by her mission. It 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.” The foundation does this through a variety of grant programs, artist residencies, and other support programs for visual artists.

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

PROFILE: The Joan Mitchell Foundation was established in 1993, the year following the death of the artist for whom the foundation is named. As the foundation puts it, its mission is “to fulfill the ambitions of Joan Mitchell to aid and assist contemporary artists and to demonstrate that painting and sculpture are significant cultural necessities.”

The Joan Mitchell Foundation achieves this through 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 doesn’t discriminate based on geography, age, or career-stage.

This is an incredibly rare type of grant for a visual artist. So it probably comes as no surprise that the foundation doesn’t 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 you can view here.

A second visual artist grant program is also gaining significance at the foundation. It’s the Joan Mitchell Center Artist in Residence Grant Program, which wrapped its year-long pilot run in 2013, and in 2015 will host 76 artists-in-residence during spring, summer, and fall sessions.

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 Artist In Residence Program for 2015 and 2016 will be open to past Painters & Sculptors and MFA Grant Program Recipients of the Joan Mitchell Foundation. In 2016, the program "anticipates an open call for applications for 2017, which will be posted."

In the 2015-2016 cycle, the Center will host 76 artists-in-residence during spring, summer, and fall sessions. - See more at: http://joanmitchellfoundation.org/center/programs/air#sthash.qmynKZ0o.dpuf

In the 2015-2016 cycle, the Center will host 76 artists-in-residence during spring, summer, and fall sessions. - See more at: http://joanmitchellfoundation.org/center/programs/air#sthash.qmynKZ0o.dpuf

In the 2015-2016 cycle, the Center will host 76 artists-in-residence during spring, summer, and fall sessions. - See more at: http://joanmitchellfoundation.org/center/programs/air#sthash.qmynKZ0o.dpuf

The Artist In Residence Program for 2015 and 2016 will be open to past Painters & Sculptors and MFA Grant Program Recipients of the Joan Mitchell Foundation. If you are a past recipient, you will be notified when applications for 2015-16 are being accepted. In 2016, we anticipate an open call for applications for 2017, which will be posted on this website. - See more at: http://joanmitchellfoundation.org/center/faq#sthash.qa2FZDeO.dpuf

The Joan Mitchell Foundation also maintains an Emergency Grant Program to help out visual artists who “have suffered significant loss due to natural or manmade disasters that have affected their community.” (This phrasing is important; the foundation is direct in saying that while it’s 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 doesn’t list previous grantees, and requests that you send an email (info@JoanMitchellFoundation.org) to start a conversation regarding your need.

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

Emerging Artist Grant Program, a new initiative designed to assist emerging visual artists across the United States. This pilot program will award a diverse group of ten artists with an unrestricted grant of $12,000 per artist in addition to professional support throughout the year. - See more at: http://joanmitchellfoundation.org/news/joan-mitchell-foundation-announces-2015-emerging-artist-grant-program#sthash.PLN1C5H9.dpuf

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

The foundation also partners with both individual visual artists and visual arts organizations for a relatively new program named Creating a Living Legacy. This program is about organizing, inventorying, and creating comprehensive documentation of an visual artist’s work and career. You can see a list of initial participants (both artists and organizations) here. If you’re interested in participating in this program, the foundation encourages you to be in touch with its Artist Support Associate, Shervone Neckles-Ortiz, at SNeckles@JoanMitchellFoundation.org.

No matter what program interests you at the Joan Mitchell Foundation, it’s a good idea to reach out and introduce yourself. The foundation welcomes it, and its programming, though extensive, is fluid enough that it’s a good idea to ensure you are approaching the opportunities in the best possible way.

PEOPLE: