For Immediate Release
December 29, 2014

Contact: Steve Wilcox


PHOENIX, AZ (December 29, 2014) – On December 29, 2014, the Arizona Commission on the Arts announced the recipients of Artist Research and Development Grants for Fiscal Year 2015. This highly-competitive grant program awards funding to Arizona artists practicing in a variety of artistic disciplines in support of research and development leading to the creation of new works of art. This year, 13 of 95 applicants received up to $5,000 in funding.

2015 Artist Research and Development Grant Recipients

David Adams (Phoenix). Visual Artist
Susan Bendix (Tempe). Performing Artist
Wendy Burk (Tucson). Literary Artist
Karen Falkenstrom (Tucson). Performing Artist
Geneva Foster Gluck (Phoenix). Multidisciplinary Artist
Alexandra Jimenez (Tucson). Visual Artist
Paul Nosa (Mesa). Visual Artist
Jia Oak Baker (Peoria). Literary Artist
Leah Roman (Gilbert). Performing Artist
Forrest Solis (Phoenix). Multidisciplinary Artist
Lauren Strohacker (Scottsdale). Visual Artist
Jonathan VanBallenberghe (Tucson). Digital Media Artist
Steven Yazzie (Phoenix). Multidisciplinary Artist

2015 Artist Research and Development Grant Review Panel

Grantees were selected by a diverse and distinguished panel of Arizona citizens:

Kimi Eisele (Tucson). Writer and performer; Artistic Director, NEW Articulations Dance Theater
Todd Ingalls (Tempe). Professor of Media, Arts and Engineering, Arizona State University
Gabriela Muñoz (Phoenix). Curatorial Assistant of Latin American Art, Phoenix Art Museum
Chandra Narcia (Phoenix/Sacaton). Media artist; Co-founder, Culture Is Life
Sandra Quintanilla (Flagstaff). Visual artist; Owner, Turn of the Wheel Ceramics
Mary Stephens (Phoenix). Producing Director, ASU Performance in the Borderlands

The panel was chaired by Victoria Boyce, a Governor-appointed Commissioner of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, longtime Scottsdale Gallery owner and past president of the Scottsdale Gallery Association.

Artist Research and Development Grant Awards

David Adams (Phoenix) — Adams will employ an 1850’s photographic process known as wet-plate collodion to make tintype photographs of power plants and oil refineries on 55-gallon oil drum lids. Adams’ work is exhibited nationally and internationally. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Society for Photographic Education’s Crystal Apple Award, the Magenta Foundation’s Emerging Photographers Award, and the Nathan Cummings Travel Award.

Susan Bendix (Tempe). Bendix will adapt and integrate techniques used in choreography, improvisation and ritual to develop a movement-based curriculum for use with people experiencing grief or loss, as a means for the intense energy of grief to take expressive form. Bendix trained with the Mark Morris Dance Company in Dance for PD® (Parkinson’s disease) and currently teaches dance for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center in Phoenix. She has conducted workshops for incarcerated young women at the Black Canyon School and with women recently released from prison.

Wendy Burk (Tucson). Burk’s Lines for Echolocation will use poetry to investigate various places “as a bat uses blips of sonar.” Employing an unusual site-based technique, Burk will compose and perform poems “in the field,” each line of which will then be made freely available for anyone to adapt and reuse as they wish. Burk’s publications include The Place Names the Place Named (2010) and The Deer (2004). Her writing has received honors including a 2013 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Translation and three Pushcart Prize nominations. More than 60 of her poems and translations have been published since 1999.

Karen Falkenstrom (Tucson). Falkenstrom will spend a year researching and studying musical folk traditions of Japan—dance, vocals, costume and non-taiko instrumentation—and begin planning the creation of a new collaborative work to be presented in concert in 2016. Falkenstrom has played, performed and taught taiko since 2001. She has studied with North American and Japanese taiko masters and has appeared in hundreds of performances over the last 13 years. As co-founder and co-director of Odaiko Sonora, Falkenstrom has introduced thousands of kids and adults to Japanese art, culture, and language, and given them firsthand experience with the performing arts.

Geneva Foster Gluck (Phoenix). Through an interdisciplinary performance project featuring elements of circus, trained physical performance and multimedia, Gluck will deconstruct the genre and traditional narrative of the Western. Gluck was a founding member of Tucson-based Flam Chen Pyrotechnic Theatre. She obtained her M.A. in scenography from University of London and went on to work with some of the UK’s most successful contemporary and immersive theatre companies before establishing her own company, Sugar Beast Circus, in 2007. In 2012 Gluck returned to Arizona to teach Theatre Design classes at Pima Community College.

Alexandra Jimenez (Tucson). Jimenez will create a “geographic alphabet book” and companion screen-prints featuring letters found in the distinctive signage of Tucson’s south side. The book and prints will tell the stories of the streets and businesses of the area. Jimenez holds a degree in Animal Sciences from Cornell University, but rather than pursue a career in the field, she opted to return to her hometown of Tucson and explore her creativity and artistic impulses. A fourth-generation Tucsonan, Jimenez’s art work frequently addresses issues related to the city and the history of its Mexican-American communities.

Paul Nosa (Mesa). Nosa will embark on a statewide “sewing tour.” With a portable sewing machine powered by a solar panel and a bicycle that generates electricity, Nosa settles in public areas and asks people to describe a scenario in five words or less. He interprets these scenarios in the moment, sewing intricate designs onto a patch. An artist, musician and DIY inventor, Nosa started sewing in 2003 to make functional art, creating a clothing line from resourced material. In 2005 he began sewing patches. Drawing with a sewing machine has developed from a rewarding art form into a full time career.

Jia Oak Baker (Peoria). Baker will write Radius, a book-length collection of poetry that tells the story of three generations of immigrant women. Baker’s poetry was awarded first place in the 2013 Tucson Festival of Books Literary Contest as well as first place in the 2012 Arizona Literary Awards. Other honors include a 2012 Pushcart Prize nomination, a full merit scholarship to the New York State Summer Writers’ Institute, the 2014 Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Scholarship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and a Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Artist Residency. She serves on the editorial board for Four Chambers Press and teaches writing at Paradise Valley Community College.

Leah Roman (Gilbert). To develop a model and platform for bridging dance scenes, the public, musicians, and young people, Roman and her dance partner Rae Rae will collaborate with, interview, and observe local representatives of the choreography and freestyle scene over the course of 2015 -2016. Roman has taught workshops in studios around the valley including Dance Element, Precision Dance and CanDance Studios. She has also traveled around the world to teach, compete and “battle.” Roman is currently the Co-Director and Founder of The Jukebox Dance Studio, a dance studio in Gilbert, AZ that specializes in Street Styles.

Forrest Solis (Phoenix). Solis will complete a series of paintings, titled the L&D Day Series and expand her discipline of figure painting into the realm of installation, audio documenting and archiving women telling their stories of labor and delivery. Forrest Solis received her B.F.A. in 2001 from the Kansas City Art Institute and an M.F.A. in 2003 from Indiana University. She is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Arizona State University. Her paintings have been exhibited regionally and nationally in solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, juried exhibitions and at major Art Fairs. Her work has been published in American Art Collector, Arts+Culture Magazine, Direct Art, Studio Visit and Visual Overture Magazine.

Lauren Strohacker (Scottsdale). Collaborating with Kendra Sollars, Strohacker will expand the scope of their ongoing Animal Land project, wherein larger-than-life video projections of wild animals are directed onto and within urban spaces. The grant will enable Strohacker to incorporate more sophisticated projection techniques and interactive technologies. Strohacker’s work has been published in the National Endowment for the Arts eBook, Exploring Our Town (2014), Sierra Magazine (2014), Java Magazine (2013), and Phoenix Magazine (2013).  In 2014, Strohacker was named one of the top 100 creatives in the city by the Phoenix New Times. Animal Land was awarded the Contemporary Forum Emerging Artist Grant (2014) by the Phoenix Art Museum.

Jonathan VanBallenberghe (Tucson). VanBallenberghe will explore the potential of fulldome cinema, developing new techniques for filming live performances, cultural events, and natural phenomena throughout Arizona with a six-camera, 360-degree fulldome rig. VanBallenberghe received an MFA in poetry from the University of Arizona in 2001. In 2005 he and his wife created Open Lens Productions, which has produced independent documentaries, wildlife films, commercials, website videos, and fulldome planetarium shows. VanBallenberghe’s documentary films have screened at festivals including SXSW, Tribeca, the American Conservation Film Festival, and the Arizona International Film Festival.

Steven Yazzie (Phoenix). Yazzie will incorporate elements of his Indigenous Tours Project, a video documentation and social engagement project centered on regional tours with indigenous participants, into The Mountain Project, an exploration of the artist’s personal and cultural history through a documented hiking expedition, culminating in 3-channel video projections in a mix-media installation environment. Yazzie is a proud member of the Navajo Nation and served honorably with the United States Marine Corps. Yazzie has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Museum of the American Indian, New York, NY; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Santa Fe, NM and museums throughout Arizona.

Bill Desmond Writing Award

In addition to the Artist Research and Development Grant, the Arts Commission also presented the Bill Desmond Writing Award, which offers funding in the amount of $500 to excelling nonfiction writers for specific project-related costs. This award was established by Kathleen Desmond to honor her late husband, Bill Desmond, a reporter, editor and nonfiction writer.

This year’s recipient is Adelheid Fischer, (Tucson). Fischer will conduct research on the eruption of Mount St. Helens to inform an essay that will weave a personal narrative of loss with nature writing on the catastrophic eruption and its ecological aftermath.

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About the Arizona Commission on the Arts

One of 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies across the United States, the Arizona Commission on the Arts is an agency of the State of Arizona that supports a statewide arts network. The Arizona Commission on the Arts supports access to quality arts and arts education opportunities for all Arizonans; the development and retention of statewide jobs in the nonprofit arts, culture and education sectors; and increased economic impact in local communities through arts-based partnerships that develop tax and small business revenue.

We imagine an Arizona where everyone can participate in and experience the arts.

To request this or any other agency publication in an alternative format, contact the Arts Commission offices at (602) 771-6502, or

Images available upon request.