November 28, 2023

Rhode Island Foundation is offering $25,000 grants to three local artists

Aug. 19 is the deadline to apply for the no-strings-attached money


Visual artists who dream of having the resources to push their craft to the next level have until Aug. 19 to apply for $25,000 fellowships from the Rhode Island Foundation. The grants are considered to be among the largest no-strings-attached awards available to artists in the United States.

The Foundation will award grants to three emerging or mid-career visual artists through its Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund. The awards are intended to free them to concentrate time on the creative process, focus on personal or professional development, expand their body of work and explore new directions.

“This assistance will permit local artists to spend more time thinking about their work instead of trying to make ends meet. This fellowship reflects the importance that our donors placed on the presence of practicing artists in the community,” said Ricky Bogert, who oversees the fellowship program.

Previous recipients of visual art fellowships include Leslie Hirt, a RISD professor who works in a variety of media to explore the meaning of materiality; and Jordan Seaberry, whose work is in the collections of the RISD Museum, the Crystal Bridges Museum and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass.

According to Seaberry, his fellowship gave him more than just the resources to devote more time to his art.

“This gave me the space to experiment and to find new ways to engage with Providence communities and national movements. The most important piece for me was the studio visits and institutional relationships that grew from the fellowship."

Applicants must be residents of Rhode Island. High school students, college and graduate students who are enrolled in a degree-granting program and visual artists who have advanced levels of career achievement are not eligible.

Applicants will be judged on the quality of their work samples, artistic development and the creative contribution to the visual arts, as well as the potential of the fellowship to advance their career. Applications will be accepted from visual artists creating new original work in any genre, including film, sculpture, painting and photography.

Although the fellowships are unrestricted, recipients are expected to devote concentrated time to their art and to engage in activities that further their artistic growth. Examples include creating new work, training in technologies or techniques, purchasing equipment, travel, research and developing artistic endeavors.

The recipients will be selected by a panel of out-of-state jurors who are recognized practicing artists and arts professionals. For more information about applying for a MacColl Johnson Fellowship, visit

Established in 2003, the MacColl Johnson fellowships rotate among composers, writers and visual artists on a three-year cycle. Over the years, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.3 million in fellowships.

Rhode Islanders Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson were both dedicated to the arts all their lives. Mrs. Johnson, who died in 1990, earned a degree in creative writing from Roger Williams College when she was 70. Mr. Johnson invented a new process for mixing metals in jewelry-making and then retired to become a fulltime painter. Before he died in 1999, Johnson began discussions with the Foundation that led to the creation of the fellowships.


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