The Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona, has awarded $5,000 Research and Development Grants to 31 artists throughout the state. Awarded through a competitive application and review process, Research & Development (R&D) Grants support Arizona artists as they work to advance their artistic practice, expand their creative horizons, and deepen the impact of their work. This year, thanks to a new public-philanthropic partnership between the state agency and the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF), and through funding from the Newton and Betty Rosenzweig Fund for the Arts, the number of available awards more than doubled, from 15 to 31.

Grantees represent a variety of artistic disciplines and reside in communities throughout the state. Funded projects include a four-mile long mural, a children’s book about transracial adoption, a celebration of women in Jazz, and an experimental fusion of break dance and the Colombian social dance style known as Cumbia.

2019 Artist Research and Development Grant Recipients

Click here for details on the artists and their projects

In addition to the Artist Research and Development Grant, the Arts Commission presented the Bill Desmond Writing Award, which offers funding in the amount of $1,000 to an excelling nonfiction writer. The recipient is selected from the pool of applicants for Research and Development Grants and a single applicant may be awarded both. The award was established by Kathleen Desmond in honor of her late husband, Bill Desmond, a reporter, editor, and nonfiction writer.

2019 Bill Desmond Writing Award Recipient

Renee Angle (Tucson)

Applications were reviewed by a diverse and distinguished panel of Arizona residents:

2019 Artist Research and Development Grant Review Panel

Felipa Lerma (Peoria), Artist & Artistic Director of Comun Teatro

Laura Maher (Tucson), Writer, Instructor at the University of Arizona Poetry Center and Major Gifts & Grants Officer at Arizona Public Media

Jacob Meders (Phoenix), Artist & Faculty at Arizona State University

Yvonne Montoya (Tucson), Choreographer & Director of Safos Dance Theater

Milta Ortiz (Tucson), Playwright & Marketing and Outreach Director at Borderlands Theater

Christina Park (Phoenix), Artist & Senior Coordinator for the Initiative for Creativity, Place and Equitable Communities at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Christian Ramirez (Tempe), Public Programs Manager at Phoenix Art Museum

Jenea Sanchez (Douglas), Artist & Founder and Director of Border Arts Corridor

After reviewing and scoring applications individually, the panelists convened for a public meeting at the Arts Commission’s office in downtown Phoenix to discuss top-scoring applications and make recommendations for funding. Ben Baer, a Governor-appointed Commissioner of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, acted as the panel chair, overseeing the process without participating in the review.

At their quarterly board meeting on March 28, 2019, the Arts Commission’s Governor-appointed board of commissioners approved the panel’s recommendations for funding.

The Arts Commission’s grant funding is provided by the State of Arizona and funding awarded through a competitive annual process by the National Endowment for the Arts. This year, the Arizona Community Foundation matched state funding allocated to the Research & Development Grant program dollar-for-dollar.

“Arizona artists contribute such value to their communities, including the many ways they provide leadership through creativity, skill, inquiry, and ingenuity,” said Jaime Dempsey, Executive Director of the Arts Commission. “We are so grateful for ACF’s partnership, which has meant that together we can encourage and expand support for the critical research and development phase of artists’ work.”

“The Newton and Betty Rosenzweig Fund for the Arts has provided ACF with a great opportunity to invest in Arizona artists, in partnership with the Arizona Commission on the Arts. These artists are critical to growing and supporting the creative economy of our state, said Steve Seleznow, President and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation. “Each of these 31 artists represents a distinctive voice and a unique point of view. Together, they are united through their pursuit of artistic excellence and commitment to community service through their creative expression. We are proud to partner in funding this amazing group of artists.”

2019 Research & Development Grant Recipients

Kris Aman

Project Description

Kris Aman will use their R&D Grant to continue the research and development phase for a feature-length documentary about community-based strategies of transformative justice and community accountability that seek to provide a survivor-led, trauma-informed, and necessary alternative to navigating the criminal justice system.

Artist Bio

Kris Aman is a poet, performance artist, musician and media-maker living in Tucson, AZ. They are the drummer for the band Vasectomy and the creator of the TV series Channeled Poetry, which aired on Creative Tucson. They have a vision of a world where no one is disposable.


Renee Angle

Project Description

Renee Angle’s R&D Grant will support work on a manuscript of essays the writer has been working on over the last four years about her experiences as a parent and how gender is commonly understood and misunderstood, taught, and depicted in the broader culture.

In addition to her R&D Grant, Angle was awarded the 2019 Bill Desmond Writing Award, which offers funding in the amount of $1,000 to an excelling nonfiction writer.

Artist Bio

Renee Angle is a writer whose current practice fuses conceptual writing techniques with life writing (diaries, journals, memoir, genealogy) practices to create essays, poems, novels. The author of a hybrid collection, WoO (Letter Machine Editions, 2016), her writing has appeared in the literary journals P-Queue, Entropy Magazine, The Rumpus, Western Humanities Review, The Volta, Diagram, in addition to the anthology I’LL DROWN MY BOOK: CONCEPTUAL WRITING BY WOMEN (Les Figues Press, 2012), and in the chapbook Lucy Design in the Papal Flea (dancing girl press, 2010). She holds an MFA from George Mason University and is the recipient of writing fellowships from the Millay Colony for the Arts and MOCA Tucson AiR program. For over a decade, she worked at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, curating programs for both adults and youth.


Gretchen Baer

Project Description

Gretchen Baer received an R&D Grant in support of her work on “Mariposa’s Wall,” a children’s picture book illustrated by Baer, that tells the story of a girl who decides to paint the border wall near her home and transforms her town through art.

Artist Bio

Gretchen Baer is a painter, art car artist, and activist. She spent six years painting the world’s longest kids mural on the Mexican side of the border wall with the children of Naco, Mexico. She is the creator and director of Studio Mariposa, a free kids art and music center also located in Naco, Sonora.

Baer is from Martha’s Vineyard Island, graduated from Massachusetts College of Art, and now makes her home in Bisbee, Arizona.


Sally Ball

Project Description

Literary artist Sally Ball’s R&D Grant will support the writing of new poems that will complement and expand on her previous work “Dear TRAPPIST.” The new works will build on the original poem’s formal expermentation–a hybrid poetic prose–and reflect the poet’s extensive research on TRAPPIST, a telescope aimed at an ultra-cool red dwarf star nearly 40 light years from earth.

Artist Bio

Sally Ball is the author of three books of poems: Hold Sway, Wreck Me, and Annus Mirabilis (all with Barrow Street). She has published essays and reviews in Lithub, NOR, Pleiades, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, The Volta, and elsewhere. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Bennington Review, Boston Review Forum 1, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, Scoundrel Time, Tin House, Yale Review, and other magazines, as well as online at The Awl, Narrative, and Slate, and they’ve been reprinted in The Best American Poetry, on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and the Academy of American Poets website. Czech artist Jan Vičar has made a 26 x 20″ artist’s book of her long poem “HOLD” (2018).

An associate professor of English at Arizona State University, Ball is also an associate director of Four Way Books. She has received fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CAMAC Centre d’Art, the James Merrill House, the Ucross Foundation, and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. She also teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.


Claudia Bloom

Project Description

With her R&D Grant, professional jazz pianist Claudia Bloom will work with saxophonist/composer/ educator Mary Petrich to explore new techniques for composing, arranging, and performing their own music as well as the music of other contemporary women in jazz.

Artist Bio

Claudia Bloom is a classically trained pianist that made the switch to jazz shortly after receiving a degree in piano pedagogy. A veteran of live performances of mixed musical styles over the years in the Denver and Phoenix areas, she also experienced the thrills and chills of travel working on a cruise ship, several DOD tours, hotels, and resorts. After years of working behind vocalists in all these venues she decided to never look back and create concerts where musicians could thrive and learn new music. This idea soon morphed into arranging and performing, and therefore supporting, the many women jazz musicians who compose and perform this music but never reach the name recognition of many men.


Bijoyini Chatterjee

Project Description

Filmmaker Bijoyini Chatterjee’s R&D Grant will support the video documentation of a five-week-long creative journey of an international group of dance artists as they reinterpret a 1,000 year-old Sufi poem into a 90-minute evening-length dance performance.

Artist Bio

Bijoyini Chatterjee is a filmmaker, photographer, and dancer and is the co-founder of Onirica Productions. Born and brought up in India, she came to the Boston (MA) to study software engineering but a near fatal car accident at the age of 27 served as a catalyst for change. She has been pursuing filmmaking and photography full time since 2008.

She lives and works in Bisbee, Arizona, with her spouse Juan Carlos Barrera Romero and their daughter Adhara Alba.


Greg Corman

Project Description

In consultation with wildlife and materials experts, sculptor and landscape designer Greg Corman will build experimental habitat sculptures that benefit several species, including birds, mammals, insects, and reptiles. Corman’s R&D Grant will further assist with his efforts to exhibit his sculptures and demonstrate his materials and techniques.

Artist Bio

Greg Corman divides his time between two passions, sculpture and landscape design. His art work reincarnates discarded steel and wood to create objects in both the decorative and functional realms. He works to maintain as much patina and history as possible, for the “stories” evoked by the materials, either real or as products of the viewers’ imaginations, can add great appeal to a sculpture. His approach is mostly intuitive and exploratory, building from existing materials in a process that is sometimes gratifying, sometimes frustrating, but results in one-off abstract pieces reflecting a range of emotions. The compositions are often influenced by plant life and natural elements of the desert which are constants in his other work as a botanist and landscape designer.

Corman’s horticultural and design experience spans nearly three decades in the desert regions of Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Arizona. He is the owner of Gardening Insights, Inc., an award winning landscape design and consulting firm in Tucson which specializes in ecological gardens and wildlife habitat landscapes.

It’s the nexus of these passions that he finds most interesting and his sculptures that incorporate native bee nesting habitats can be found in the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the Phoenix Zoo, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Tohono Chul, the Tucson Botanical Gardens, and other public spaces.


Wesley Fawcett Creigh

Project Description

Wesley Fawcett Creigh’s R&D Grant will fund the animation and installation phases of an ambitous multi-disciplinary work called Love in the Time of Migra, depicting the personal stories of binational couples whose relationships “straddle the line” of the US/Mexico border.

Artist Bio

Wesley Fawcett Creigh lives and works in Tucson, Arizona. In 2008 she completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Prescott College in the self-designed major of Public Art with an Emphasis on Social Impact. Since this time she has produced artworks as an individual, as a member of artist collectives, and as a scenic designer for performance collaborations. Her work aims to bring the arts into community spaces, foster a sense of creative place making, and bring overlooked issues into the forefront of a broader community dialogue.

Most recently, she has employed animation and multi-media installation for her artwork and received numerous grant awards in 2016 for an animation and installation project that examines the complexity of violence on the US/Mexico border. This project, entitled “Of Rocks and Bullets: An Animated Discourse” has been included in exhibitions at Exploded View MicroCinema, Museo de Arte Nogales, MOCA Tucson, and Yavapai College. Her experimental video work, “Prototype”, was screened at MOCA Tucson in November 2017. “Prototype” also received an official selection into the WomenCinemakers Biennale in 2018 and the Sharjah Film Platform in 2019. She has been awarded grants and residencies from organizations such as the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona, The Puffin Foundation, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Springboard for the Arts, and Santa Fe Art Institute.


Mel Dominguez

Project Description

With their R&D Grant, Mel Dominguez will focus on strengthening their skills as a printmaker, sculptor, and welder while experimenting with new processes of block printing, etching, and silk screening. These skills and techniques will allow the artist to better reproduce their work and realize more ambitious visions for public art installations built from both new and recycled materials.

Artist Bio

Mel “Melo” Dominguez is an artist, muralist from Los Angeles who has lived in Tucson since 2007. Dominguez’s community outreach began as a Getty Intern at Self Help Graphics & Art in East Los Angeles. Their artwork is a direct expression of Chicanx culture, political issues, social issues, and environmental issues. Dominguez enjoys using creativity and activism to create a difference throughout the Tucson community.


Amy Dunn

Project Description

Amy Dunn an R&D Grant in support of her work on a children’s book that explores how to navigate the complexities of transracial adoptions. Beyond composing the art/graphics which accompany her story, Dunn will research national and international adoption systems, connect with other transracial adoptees to garner a holistic understanding of racial identity within multiracial family units, and collaborate with her brother to develop the story.

Artist Bio

Amy Dunn has been a printmaker since graduating from the University of Arizona with a BFA in printmaking in 2014. After graduating she worked as an assistant for her former Relief professor and mentor, Sheila Pitt, for two years. Dunn primarily focuses on Relief woodcuts but is also skilled in Letterpress and Screen Printing. She established a sole-proprietorship in 2016 under the name Red Collar Press and started selling at seasonal markets around Tucson. In 2018, PopCycle began carrying one of her t-shirt designs.


Debra Edgerton

Project Description

Painter Debra Edgerton received an R&D Grant in support of “By the Grace of God,” a series of paintings that reimagine the notion of grief and loss for women of color. Edgerton’s paintings respond to “the spectacle of grief” frequently presented in the media when depicting women of color mourning the loss of loved ones, offering an alternative image of their grieving process.

Artist Bio

Debra Edgerton is a Senior Lecturer for the School of Art at Northern Arizona University. She is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society, and lifetime member of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America. Her recent watercolor paintings have been awarded the High Winds Award through AWS, Henry and Fujiko Fukuhara Memorial Award, Jeanne Heartsill Memorial Award, and the Nora Stephens Founder’s Award through NWS and the Edgar A Whitney Memorial Award through TWSA. Two of Edgerton’s paintings were exhibited in China at the Shenzhen International Watercolor Biennial in the Shenzhen Art Museum and the Small Images Exhibition at the Louhu Art Museum, respectively. In 2018, Edgerton was awarded Master Status through TWSA.

Edgerton has received numerous grants that include a past Arizona Commission on the Arts Project Grant, the Contemporary Forum Artist Grant, Elizabeth Graham Foundation Grant, and a Kansai Research Grant where she was a visiting scholar working on visual storytelling in Osaka, Japan. This research helped her complete the body of work in the collaborative exhibition entitled Echoes and Undercurrents at the Museum of Northern Arizona.

In 2017, Edgerton participated in the exhibition Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land: the Impact of Uranium Mining on Navajo Lands and People. She will also be one of the participating artists in the upcoming group exhibition Parched, the Art of Water in the Southwest.


Leslie Ann Epperson

Project Description

Tucson filmmaker Leslie Ann Epperson’s R&D Grant award will support work on her documentary, Of Jaguars, Sky Islands, and Us, which uses the story of El Jefe, a jaguar spotted roaming the Santa Rita mountains near Tucson to explore the ecology of the borderlands, as well as the potential impact of the proposed expansion of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Artist Bio

Leslie Ann Epperson makes cultural and natural history documentary films for television and theatrical release. Her work has been broadcast by the nationwide PBS Network as well as several regional PBS stations and has screened at theatres in Arizona and California. Recent theatrical selections include the Loft Film Fest, Arcosanti Film Carnivale, and the Arizona International Film Festival. She is the recipient of three Emmy Awards for Directing, Writing, and Editing the PBS program Divine Mission San Xavier del Bac, Best of Arizona from Arizona International Film Festival for Many Bones, One Heart, and Best Heart Beat Award for Celebrate Now from the Just Be You Festival. Several programs Epperson created for PBS affiliates reside in library collections throughout the United States.

Epperson also makes photo mixed media artwork and artist books, and has exhibited throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom. Her artist book, Another Day, was purchased by the University of Arizona Special Collections. Epperson is thrilled that Divine Mission San Xavier del Bac still screens daily at the Mission San Xavier museum, as it has for almost twenty years.


Darcy Falk

Project Description

Darcy Falk’s R&D Grant will support the artists work on a project called Conversation Prints. Falk  will design and screen-print fabrics which she will then use to sew custom garments, one for each of five model-participants. The printed fabrics will feature birth control motifs in vintage-inspired designs, while the garments will be fashioned from vintage sewing patterns.

Artist Bio

Darcy Falk’s mastery of fabric and thread impels her to create artworks from textiles using a variety of techniques, including a full range of surface design processes. The primary focus of her artwork since 2012 has been on so-called women’s issues; the Kevlar Kimono, a 7-foot tall metaphorical safe space for navigating reproductive decision-making for both women and men was completed in 2014.

Since 1987, Falk’s work has been included in juried and invitational exhibits all over the U.S., internationally and extensively throughout the state of Arizona. Her visual work and writings are also informed by her study of journalism and political science. She holds BA degrees in both disciplines from Ball State University.

Her 2018 exhibit, Ultraviolet, textile artworks revealing women’s issues, featured artworks with messages about women’s voices and stories screen-printed with ultraviolet-light -sensitive paint. Her newest project, Conversation Prints/The Dress Project – an extension of that work – is a deeper exploration of how and why we make decisions about our reproductive lives, and is designed to stimulate discussion about reproductive freedom and healthcare.


Ashley Fine

Project Description

With her R&D Grant, Ashley Fine will bring artists, farmers, and chefs together in collaboration to create a site specific, farm-to-table performance. The event, titled rhizeHOME, will be a multidimensional harvest celebration that will take place in September 2019 on a historic one-acre urban farm in the heart of Prescott, AZ.

Artist Bio

Ashley Fine is a performing artist, choreographer, and dance teacher, as well as a mother, gardener, and full-time school teacher. Fine has choreographed several shows for theater companies including Prescott Center for the Arts and the Elks Opera House Foundation. She has been a featured artist at workshops and dance intensives including Kono Arts Camp in Santa Barbara, CA, and Learning to Fly Summer Dance Intensive in Prescott, AZ. She has performed on stage, at artists’ salons, in site specific performances, and in festivals, such as, Playa Presents, Breaking Ground Dance Festival (Tiny Dances), Acker Music Festival, Tsunami on the Square, Flagstaff Dance Festival, and the American College Dance Festival. Fine has also danced and collaborated with a variety of artists and performing companies such as Ævium, STUDIOm13, Water in the Desert, Verbobala, Nemcatacoa, The Carpet Bag Brigade, Tamara Albatis, Center Dance Ensemble, Human Nature Dance Theater, and the Mills College Repertory Dance Company.


Liz Guzman

Project Description

Percussionist Liz Guzman’s R&D Grant will support travel to the Philippine Islands in the summer of 2019 where she will study with masters of various Filipino folk music traditions. Upon her return, Guzman will create a new body of work for marimba showcasing traditional Filipino folk music.

Artist Bio

Liz Guzman is an active percussion educator and performer who currently serves as the Percussion Specialist at Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix, AZ. Her duties at ASA include instructing beginning through advanced levels of percussion and directing the award winning ASA Percussion Ensemble. She received her degree in percussion from Arizona State University in 2004 under the direction of Dr. Douglas Nottingham, Dr. JB Smith, Dr. Mark Sunkett, and Bill Wanser (Phoenix Symphony, retired).

In addition to ASA, she maintains a busy private studio where her students have performed and earned honors at AMEA Solo & Ensemble, Arizona Regional & All State Bands and Orchestra, Curry Summer Music Camp, Berklee Percussion Camp, Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, the AzPAS Solo & Ensemble Festival, Phoenix Youth Symphony, and the Academy Drum & Bugle Corp. In 2011 she was named a Surdna Arts Fellow, which granted her the opportunity to study with world-renowned marimbist Naoko Takada.

Guzman regularly performs with a variety of groups around the valley including the Rosewood Rascals Marimba Band, Salt River Brass, GCC Percussion Ensemble, and Musica Nova Orchestra. She is a member of the Arizona Music Educators Association, National Association of Music Education, and is the Past President of the Arizona Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. Guzman proudly serves an Educational Artist for Marimba One.


Hilary Harp

Project Description

Hillary Harp’s R&D Grant will support the creation of “Better Out Than In,” the third in a series of experimental gender-fluid folk tale videos created by the multi-media artist in collaboration with Pittsburgh-based artist Suzie Silver.

Artist Bio

Hilary Harp received her BFA from Parsons School of Design and her MFA from Tyler School of Art. She creates sculptures, installations, and media projects which explore hybrid forms and challenge categories of high and low, male and female, technology and craft. Harp has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and a Heinz Foundation Creative Heights Grant. Since 2003 Harp has collaborated with Suzie Silver on videos and media projects that celebrate their shared love of science fiction, camp sensibilities, folk culture, and performance art. Their videos have screened at over one hundred festivals on five continents and are distributed by the Video Data Bank. Their ongoing collaboration, “Fairy Fantastic!” a web-based fairy and folk tale video series for gender non-conforming kids of all ages, has screened at festivals in Belarus, London, Kampala, Portugal, Romania, and Australia. Their curated screenings of experimental queer folk tale videos and queer shorts for kids are touring the US, including screenings at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the Carnegie International Cinematheque, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Andy Warhol Museum. Harp is an Associate Professor of in the School of Art at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.


Heidi Hogden

Project Description

Once completed, Heidi Hogden’s proposed “Desert Survival” project will comprise seven graphite drawings, five cement sculptures, and four mixed media paintings. Collectively, the works aim to demonstrate the consequences of climate change through visual storytelling and humor.

Artist Bio

Heidi Hogden’s creative research investigates the relationship between place and identity through drawing and installation. Recent projects include environmental changes as they relate to location, the examination of the natural world through visual art, the exploration of memory through the language of drawing, and the merger of art practice with animal sciences. Hogden received her BFA in 2008 from Minneapolis College of Art and Design and an MFA in 2012 from the Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She was the Artist-In-Residence at the Windgate College of Art and Design in Little Rock, AR from 2015 to 2017 and at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT in 2018. Hogden is currently an Assistant Professor of Drawing at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

Hogden has exhibited her work at galleries, institutions, and museums, nationally and internationally. Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions including the McGladrey Art Gallery at Bentley University in Waltham, MA; the Ann Maner and Alex Pappas Gallery at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, AR; and the Viterbo Fine Arts Center in LaCrosse, WI. Group exhibitions include the Courtyard Gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; the South Dakota Art Museum in Brookings, SD; and the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock, AR. Hogden’s work has been published in the Boston Globe; Manifest’s 10th International Drawing Annual; and Studio Visit Magazine, among others.


Kelly Houle

Project Description

Kelly Houle’s R&D Grant will fund the completion of a fully-illustrated, hand-typeset letterpress book titled A Dream: Selected Poems by Abramek Koplowicz. Koplowicz, a child sent with his family to the ghetto in Łódź, Poland in 1938, wrote poetry and plays to entertain his fellow prisoners. He later died with his mother in Auschwitz.

Artist Bio

Kelly Houle is an Arizona-based artist working in the book arts. She studied painting, drawing, and letterpress at Scottsdale Artist’s School, Desert Botanical Garden, and with painting mentor Abbey Ryan and letterpress printing mentor Sky Shipley. She is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists, the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, and Oil Painters of America. Her paintings, drawings, and artist books are in public and private collections around the world, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Israel, Lebanon, India, Japan, and Australia. A complete collection of her artist books is housed in Arizona State University Library’s distinctive collections. For Houle, the book arts are an outlet for creative work across disciplines between the visual arts, poetry, science, and the humanities.


Sara Hubbs

Project Description

Sara Hubbs received an R&D Grant in support of her work on a series of three sculptures called “The Gift.” Trained as a painter, Hubbs will experiment with complex sculpture casting methods as well as new methods of viewer engagement.

Artist Bio

Sara Hubbs is a visual artist whose work looks to the discarded shapes of material culture as sites of meaning. She uses abstraction to see intimacy, absence, and relationships between objects and the body within the context of the everyday. Hubbs makes both two and three-dimensional work, utilizing plaster, glass, paper and product packaging. She has shown locally, nationally and internationally. Her work has been included in group shows at the Ex-Teresa Arte Cultural in Mexico City, The Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, The Castle Gallery at the College of New Rochelle, NY, Yun Gee Park Gallery in Tucson, Spattered Columns in NYC, and Modified Arts in Phoenix among others. She attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and at The Cooper Union and is a founding member of the Stew-dio Visit Artist Collective, recipient of a stART Mini Grant from the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona. Hubbs completed a BFA in Painting at Arizona State University and an MFA in Visual Art at The George Washington University where she received the Morris Louis Fellowship. Originally from Phoenix, she is now based in Tucson, where she maintains a studio practice and lives with her husband and daughter.


Saskia Jordá

Project Description

With the support of her R&D Grant Saskia Jorda will explore themes of place and cultural identity through sculptural works that employ the metaphor of mapping of territorial disputes.

Artist Bio

Saskia Jordá is an interdisciplinary artist working on site-specific installations, soft sculptures, and drawings.  Her work has referenced the relationship between body and space, cultural identity, and mapping a sense of place since her undergraduate studies at Arizona State University and her graduate studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where she earned her MFA. She has received various awards, including the Arlene and Morton Scult Contemporary Forum Award of the Phoenix Art Museum and an Artist Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She has exhibited widely within the U.S. and internationally, and is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to her studio work, Jordá co-founded the Taliesin Artist Residency Program, which she directed from 2005-2017, and has been teaching Drawing and Textiles at college level since 2012.


Ken Lamberton

Project Description

Ken Lamberton’s R&D Grant will support the creation of an anthology of creative writing, both prose and poetry, from prisoners currently or formerly incarcerated in Arizona. Along with the volume’s poetry and prose, Lamberton will include interviews with former prisoners with questions that focus on the value of artistic practice for the incarcerated.

Artist Bio

Ken Lamberton is the author of Wilderness and Razor Wire (Mercury House), which won the 2002 John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing. He has published six books and hundreds of articles and essays in places like the Los Angeles Times, Orion, the Gettysburg Review, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2000. His latest book, Chasing Arizona (University of Arizona Press) is a 2015 Southwest Book of the Year. Lamberton holds degrees in biology and creative writing and lives with his wife in an 1890s stone cottage on the old mule road near Bisbee where he spends his days fixing the plumbing.


Margaree Little

Project Description

Margaree Little received an R&D Grant in support of The Interior Castle, a collection of poems and illustrations, formally inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts, that trace experiences of childhood sexual abuse, the effects of abuse over time, and the possibilities of recovery, intimacy, and love.

Artist Bio

Margaree Little is a poet, translator, and visual artist whose first collection, REST (Four Way Books, 2018), won the 2018 Balcones Poetry Prize and the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry. Little is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Kenyon Review Fellowship, and a Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Fellowship, among other awards. Her poems and criticism appear in journals including American Poetry Review, the Kenyon Review Online, New England Review, and The Southern Review; her translations from the Russian of the poet Marina Tsvetaeva appear in Asymptote and InTranslation (The Brooklyn Rail). With Jaquira Díaz, she co-edited Resistance, Change, Survival, a six-month special feature in the Kenyon Review Online on issues of art, resistance, and the current political climate. She lives in Tucson and teaches at Pima Community College.


Lia Littlewood

Project Description

Yuma mural artist Lia Littlewood received an R&D Grant in support of her vision for a four-mile-long mural spanning walls along the east side of Yuma’s Avenue C from 1st Street to 32nd Street. The mural will present iconic Yuma imagery and scenery in variety of artistic styles.

Artist Bio

Lia Littlewood is a Yuma Native who loves creating avenues for artists to reach their potential. She has been creating for 15 years, 10 years professionally. Littlewood has been nominated twice for the Governors art award, statewide, and won the Tribute of the Muses in 2017, highest art award in the city of Yuma. She has inspired others in providing free art education for children, in making the marginalized feel welcome, in building community with and through art, in garnering direct financial support from Yumans of all types, and in emphasizing positive self-expression as the cornerstone to improving quality of life in Yuma.

She was Chair of the City’s Public Art Committee. She attended, and the Littlewood Fine Art and Community Co-Op co-sponsored, the annual Arts Congress at the Capitol. Littlewood also is a part of the Creative Communities institute creating. This requires hard work, significant time, and a clear vision for a better Yuma. Last Year Littlewood organized Yuma’s first-ever PRIDE event. The LGBTQ+ community in Yuma had long lived underground. Littlewood has also led in working to make life better in Yuma by engaging with the City directly to revise its laws and regulations concerning murals and signage.

As a muralist, she has run into ‘pushback’ from officials as to what can and cannot be painted on building. But, knowing that there is a spectrum between ‘Eat At Joes’ advertising and ‘pure art’ pieces, she has worked with Community Development and made the case for art not being subject to commercial signage regulation.


Stephanie Lucas

Project Description

Filmmaker Stephanie Lucas will use her R&D Grant to finish a feature-length documentary about a bright and talented young person haunted by the effects of childhood trauma.

Artist Bio

Stephanie Lucas earned her BA in English Literature from the University of Arizona before going on to receive her MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from New York University, focusing on documentary film, art, and social change.

Her first foray into documentary filmmaking was a (VHS tape-to-tape) short she produced for Tucson Cable Access about the visually impaired students she was assisting at the U of A. The subject matter, Goalball, a sport visually impaired athletes can play without a sighted guide, fascinated her and the medium of documentary immediately captured her heart. She is now five years into a feature documentary, Unfinished Work, also about a former student, and his family.

As a filmmaker, she has worn the hats of screenwriter, director, producer, editor, and cameraperson. With her husband, Josh Kasselman, Lucas is the co-founder of the production company Limitrophe Films, which has produced award-winning shorts that have screened at festivals throughout the world. The two were named the Arizona Filmmakers of the year by IFP Phoenix/Phoenix Film Foundation in 2015. In addition to her creative work, Lucas is a full-time faculty and Head of the Digital Cinema Arts Program at Glendale Community College. She and Josh are also the proud parents of an 8-year-old daughter, Greta.


Michelle Marji

Project Description

With her R&D Grant, dance artist Michelle Marji hopes to diversify the involvement in and knowledge of two areas of personal passion through a community event that combines rock climbing and hip-hop dance. The free public performance, presented at a Phoenix rock gym, will be accompanied by community story circles, art, hip hop, food, and music.

Artist Bio

Michelle Marji is a dance artist, social activist, researcher, and rock climber in Tempe Arizona. She graduated from Arizona State University with a BFA in Dance and a BS in Psychological science. Currently, she teaches and performs as an Education Specialist for the Be Kind People Project. She is a director of the Orphanage Dance Project, a non profit organization that facilitates art making and community performance with children in Mexico. She is Co-Founder of Twined, an organization that promotes authentic expression of culture and the self. She is an independent choreographer and event coordinator who has recently performed solos for the Beta Dance Festival and Breaking Ground.

Marji was awarded best college choreography in 2017 by the Arizona Dance Education Organization. She was also a recipient of the Tempe Vibrant City Grant in 2019.

Marji conducts research with the Indigo Cultural Center, an organization that promotes racial equity and the study of culture. She also conducts research with the Embodied Cognition Lab at ASU. She was awarded the National Psi Chi summer research grant for her research in embodied learning with children.

Marji has a passionate and intentional drive to promote awareness and actionable change through research and the arts in her communities. She is an improviser, a mover, and a lover of her family, culture, and community. Currently she hopes to continue creating work and performing with a thoughtful understanding of the communities she comes from and from a place of authenticity and love.


Amy Martin

Project Description

Documentary photographer Amy Martin’s R&D Grant will enable her to complete a documentary/portrait photography project called Todos Dignos: Undocumented. Through interviews and thoughtful portraits, Martin celebrates the positive contributions of undocumented immigrants by highlighting objects that her subjects have chosen to represent their work and personal lives.

Artist Bio

Amy Martin, born and raised in Arizona, is a documentary photographer focusing on conservation and social issues in her home region and abroad. Though her images, she hopes to increase awareness, understanding, and compassion across geographic and social barriers. Growing up in Tucson, border issues have been a primary focus and she hopes to spark change in perception by creating pathways of connection to those denied a platform. Martin has recently completed projects documenting the issue of statelessness on the Dominican/Haitian border and the experience of latino/a farm workers on the Arizona/Mexico border. Martin brings depth to her work from her diverse background as a former Peace Corps volunteer in Dominican Republic, a Park Ranger at Grand Canyon, and a conservation biologist in the American Southwest. She also recognizes the importance of visual creation and sharing of images during this time in global connectivity, and has begun creating and teaching Identity Through Photography workshops to children in diverse communities. Her work has been shared throughout the world including exhibitions in New York, DC, Vienna, Bordeaux, Dominican Republic, Nogales, Tucson and Flagstaff.


Amanda Mollindo

Project Description

As a part of her long-term, interdisciplinary project titled Beyond the Vessel, Amanda Mollindo will engage in research that explores the history, evolution, and conditions of reproductive healthcare policy and practices. Her research will include video interviews with women across the United States, large format photographic portraits of each interviewee, and a series of still-life photographs representing family planning techniques employed prior to the advent of modern medicine.

Artist Bio

Amanda Mollindo is a visual artist who cultivates beauty and clarity to amplify stories that matter. By finding relevance in complex ideas and nuance in difficult topics, she uses photography to explore personal, familial, and societal relationships that are often stigmatized or ignored.

After a quiet upbringing in Yuma, Arizona, Mollindo followed her passion for the arts by pursuing a BFA in Photography at Arizona State University, where she graduated with honors in 2015. There, she took an interdisciplinary approach to her education by combining photography, storytelling, and digital media in her creative practice. She continues to live in the Phoenix Valley and exhibit work throughout the state. Her creative projects have received both local and national recognition, including the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art’s Good ‘n Plenty Artist Award, the SPE Student Award for Innovation in Imaging, the Jose Franco and Francisca Ocampo Quesada Research Award, the Arizona’s Scholastic Golden Key Award and more.


Ruby Morales

Project Description

Dance artist Ruby Morales will use her grant funds to convene a group of dancers for a five-week paid training intensive and rehearsal process during which the dancers will develop a shared movement language rooted in two disparate dance styles–break dance and Cumbia–and develop a new performance piece.

Artist Bio

Ruby Morales is a dancer, lover, social activist, performer, poet, and educator. In 2018 she graduated from Arizona State University with a BFA in Dance and was awarded the Gammage Herberger Scholarship for demonstrating active leadership and community involvement. Her art comes from a deeply rooted love for Hip hop, her Mexican culture, and the blending of the two. By questioning ideas of culture, definitions, and aesthetics she explores how her interests can come together to relay an emotion through a composed choreographic dance. Her most recent work, “Café con Leche,” is an interdisciplinary piece combining contemporary movement, breaking, and poetry while exploring ideas of identity and colorism within the mind of a Mexican woman. She currently trains as a bgirl and in contemporary dance. She is also an intern for CONTRA-TIEMPO, a touring Urban Latin Dance Theatre Company, and has recently been invited to perform and tour with the company as an understudy. Morales will continue to be driven by her passion for art as social activism, pushing societal norms, and radical expression of emotions as she jumps into her future as a dancer.


Saretta Morgan

Project Description

Expanding on a long-term collaboration with artificial intelligence engineer Christine Allen-Blanchette to consider formal relationships between poetics, computer systems, and language, Saretta Morgan’s R&D Grant will enable her to hold a 5-day think tank for an intimate, interdisciplinary group of Black women with radical practices to consider their work in relationship to contemporary borderlands issues.

Artist Bio

Saretta Morgan is the author of the chapbooks, Feeling Upon Arrival (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018) and room for a counter interior (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2017) as well as the full-length collection Plan Upon Arrival, selected by Fred Moten for publication through Three Count Pour in 2020. Her most recent writing considers Black migration to the southwest, particularly as it relates to natural resource management, indigenous erasure, and contemporary border policies. She has received fellowships and residencies from the Jerome Foundation, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, among others. Morgan is a poetry editor at Aster(ix) Journal as well as the African American Review. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where she volunteers with the immigration detention center visitation program, Mariposas Sin Fronteras, and the humanitarian aid initiatives of No More Deaths Phoenix. She teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.


Rebecca Seiferle

Project Description

Literary Artist Rebecca Seiferle’s grant supports the creation of a new manuscript. Combining prose poems, prose passages, and lyric poems, Meditations explores the intersection of public and private realms. The grant will allow Seiferle to offer a number of free workshops, helping participants explore complex subjects that intersect with their own experiences within a hybrid lyric form.

Artist Bio

Rebecca Seiferle was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship for poetry in 2004. Her most recent collection Wild Tongue (Copper Canyon Press, 2007) won the 2008 Grub Street National Poetry Prize. Previously, Bitters (Copper Canyon, 2001) won the Western States Book Award and a Pushcart prize. She has published two book length translations of César Vallejo: Trilce (Sheep Meadow Press, 1992) and The Black Heralds (Copper Canyon, 2003). Her translations are included in The Whole Island: Six Decades of Cuban Poetry (University of California Press, 2009) and Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry (Copper Canyon, 2001). In 2004 she was awarded the Lannan Literary Fellowship for poetry. She was Tucson Poet Laureate from 2012-16. She was Jacob Ziskind poet-in-residence at Brandeis University and a visiting writer at Vanderbilt University and Hamilton College. She has taught workshops at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, Summer Literary Seminars in Vilnius, Lithuania, StAnza International Poetry Festival in St. Andrews, Scotland, Key West Literary Seminar, Port Townsend Writer’s Conference, and Gemini Ink, among others. She currently teaches in 24PearlStreet online workshops and lives in Tucson.


David Taylor

Project Description

Through photographs, video, interviews, and documentation, multidisciplinary artist David Taylor’s Migrant Detention Inc. will function as a visual index of the for-profit migrant detention industry drawing upon various representational modes to examine and contextualize the phenomenon of immigrant incarceration through its architecture and societal ramifications.

Artist Bio

David Taylor’s artwork examines place, territory, history, and politics and has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Pursuing long-term projects that reveal the changing circumstances of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, he was awarded a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship and has released two monographs–Working the Line (Radius Books, 2010) and Monuments: 276 Views of the United States – Mexico Border (Radius Books and Nevada Museum of Art, 2015). His artwork is in the permanent collections of numerous institutions including the Nevada Museum of Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and, most recently, the Library of Congress and the MFA Houston. Widely published, Taylor’s projects have been featured in outlets such as Art LTD., The Guardian, Politico, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Places Journal, PREFIX PHOTO, and the Mexico/Latin America Edition of Esquire Magazine. Recent exhibition venues include the Phoenix Art Museum, the MCA San Diego, Museo de las Artes Universidad de Guadalajara, the MFA Houston, and Oficina de Proyectos Culturales in Jalisco.

For the summer of 2019 Taylor has been awarded a residency at the prestigious La Tallera – Proyecto Siqueiros in Cuernavaca, Mexico. A faculty member in the Photography, Video, and Imaging area at the University of Arizona School of Art, Taylor earned a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University and an MFA from the University of Oregon.