The Pittsburgh Foundation

$153,000 in grants to support local artists

PITTSBURGH, May 18, 2016 –The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments have awarded $153,000 in grants to 12 artists and one nonprofit organization hosting an artist residency in the fifth funding cycle of Investing in Professional Artists, a program jointly sponsored by the two philanthropies.

There were 184 applications from individuals and organizations representing 27 communities throughout the region. The applications were peer-reviewed by a panel of regional and national experts representing a variety of artistic disciplines. The panel’s recommendations were based on quality of past work and a proposed project’s potential to advance an artist’s career. The grantees are established or emerging artists working in visual arts, multimedia, music, theater and literature. The list of grant recipients is below.

“Pittsburgh’s community of individual artists is flourishing as never before,” said Janet Sarbaugh, vice president of creativity and senior program director for Arts & Culture at the Endowments. “Their energy, passion and talent can be felt throughout the city, in arts institutions, studios, schools and communities. We are excited to give support and visibility to some of Pittsburgh’s most talented artists through the program.”

Investing in Professional Artists is a multiyear program designed to support professional artists’ creative development, to create career advancement and recognition opportunities for artists, to encourage creative partnerships between artists and local organizations and to increase the visibility of working artists in the region’s cultural life.

“This year’s grantees emphatically demonstrate the strength of female artists working in the region,” added Germaine Williams, senior program officer for Arts and Culture at the Foundation. “The variety of interests, career points, and artistic practices is truly inspiring.”     

Serving as national experts on the panel were Thaddeus Davis, co-artistic director of Wideman/Davis Dance and assistant professor at the University of South Carolina; Adrien-Alice Hansel, literary director at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C.; Ayanah Moor, an interdisciplinary artist and associate professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Tomeka Reid, a Chicago-based cellist, composer and educator; Thomas Sayers Ellis, a poet and photographer who co-founded the Dark Room Collective in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Geoffrey Shea, a Canadian media artist and associate professor at OCAD University.

Regional members of the panel were Jessica Beck, assistant curator at the Andy Warhol Museum; Reginald L. Douglas, artistic producer at Pittsburgh City Theatre Company; Heather McElwee, executive director at the Pittsburgh Glass Center; Bob Moir, a musician and composer; John Peña, a multidisciplinary artist, illustrator and educator; Mark Taylor, a dancer and choreographer; and Sarah Williams-Devereux, a literary artist and educator for Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops.

Applications for next year’s grants will be accepted beginning this fall. More information is available at

2016 Investing in Professional Artists Grant Recipients

Creative Development Grants:

Elise Adibi ($10,000) to support the creation of “Respiration Paintings,” a new series of paintings made from essential plant oils.

Tameka Cage Conley ($10,000) to support the completion of a historical novel titled “This Far by Grace.”

Oreen Cohen ($10,000) to support the first phase of the Building Bridges public art project in Deutschtown, consisting of collected photographs and aluminum silhouettes.

April Friges ($8,229) to support the completion of the “Untitled Color” photographic works from the “Spectator” series.

Lori Hepner ($10,000) to support the expansion of a set of works to be created during The Arctic Circle artist residency.

Dawn Lundy Martin ($10,000) to support the creation of a video installation project with African American postmodern Cleveland poet, Russell Atkins.

Bekezela Mguni ($10,000) to support the Black Unicorn Project, a celebration and exploration of Black women writers across the African Diaspora.

Emily Pinkerton ($10,000) to support the recording of an Appalachian-inspired piece, titled “Rounder Songs,” with NOW Ensemble for release on New Amsterdam Records.

Keith Reimink ($10,000) to support the production of “The Day of Western Sunrise,” a documentary about three Japanese fisherman who survived a thermonuclear test in the Pacific.

Jimmy Riordan ($10,000) to support a series of four collaborative, cross-disciplinary artist books.

Dawn Weleski with Justin Strong ($10,000) to support the production of a live mock sports draft titled “The Black Draft.”

Anqwenique Wingfield ($10,000) to support the creation of an operatic work titled “A Love Supreme.”

Residencies at Arts Organizations:

Transformazium at the Braddock Carnegie Library ($35,000) to support an artist residency with multimedia artist and Braddock resident Tyrone Brown, who will produce an audiobook of Nietzsche’s “Ecce Homo” and a print book of photographs and writing.