New Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation Grant Sends Visual Arts Students On the (International) Road

With Hillary Clinton poised to run yet again for president (full disclosure: Despite our ties to political movers and shakers, we have no insider information whatsoever, we promise), I figured now would be a good time to whip out her much-quoted phrase "It takes a village," pulled from her 1996 tome It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.

I'd like to clumsily modify the sentiment by proclaiming that if recent gifts to arts organizations and universities are any indication, it increasingly takes a (global) village to develop the 21st century artist. In short, it seems as if more and more foundations are doling out money to send artists, dancers, and actors on the transcontinental road.

For example, Theatre Communications Group just expanded its Global Connections program to include new ON the STAGE grants, which will pay to have select theatre troupes take their acts to international stages. It envisions a troupe from Connecticut performing for an audience in Sri Lanka, for instance.

But what makes today's topic of discussion particularly interesting is that the grant recipients in question aren't seasoned troupes, mid-career artists, or even graduate students, but college kids. Teenagers, even.

The New York-based Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation announced that the California Institute of Art has been named the first recipient of its Felix Gonzalez-Torres Travel Grant. The $25,000 grant will provide $5,000 per year over the next five years to allow three "talented artists to participate in an increasingly globalized artistic landscape." The first round of grants will be awarded in Spring 2015.

The grants are attuned to the professional landscape that can await students upon entering the dreaded real world. Funding will, according to the foundation, enable "students to develop their art practices in continually expanding contexts, and create the international networks that can help advance their careers during the crucial first years after graduation."

This is no small feat. After, competition for U.S.-based curatorial work is fierce. If a student can afford to spend, say, six months in Berlin, network with the city's art professionals, and land a job there upon graduation, that's a great thing.

The School of Art selection committee will review student applications and allocate the $5,000 grant award among up to three students per year. Grants will be awarded on the merit of the travel proposed and its relevance to students' artistic goals at the institute.

As technology continues to bring artists together from across the globe, we expect to see more grants like this in the future.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go. I've got James Carville on the other line.