2022 Fellowship Award Recipients

Rozalinda Borcilă  (She/They)
New Art Forms
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Lyn Rye

Rozalinda Borcilă is a Romanian artist, activist, researcher and mom. Her work traces local geographies of global racial finance, following patterns of flow that link warehouse districts, weapons manufacturing, detention centers, petroleum supply chains and mitigation banking. She has produced long-term creative research projects as a solo author, in collaboration with scholars such as Brian Holmes, and as part of the collective Compass. Her work takes the form of publications, video essays, experimental walking seminars and media/web platforms. She developed “Underlying Miami: Sea Level Rise and Settler Futurities” for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, and “Meskonsin-Kansan”, a publication and walking project in collaboration with Nicholas Brown and artist/anthropologist Lance Foster, Vice Chair of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska.  Her current project “Im/Memorial” is the recipient of the Arthur and Lila Weinberg Fellowship from the Newberry Library, where she is also teaching “Imagining Glaciers in Chicago: A Walking Seminar”. With Harley Foos, she is working on an experimental nonfiction series entitled “No Shelter” supported by Chicago Filmmakers.

Most days you can find her organizing in border abolition and migrant solidarity struggles. She teaches in art museums, universities, activist spaces, squats, refugee camps and in the streets. 


Alex Chitty
Visual Based Arts
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Matt Gehring

Alex Chitty (b. 1979, Miami, FL)

Chitty is a British/American transdisciplinary artist living and working in Chicago, IL. Chitty's work re-presents interconnected elements of the built world to expose moments of dissonance between what is seen and the systems underlying what we think we are certain of.

MFA = School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Printmedia), 2008

BFA = Smith College (Smith Scholar: Education, Biology, Fine Art), 2001

Chitty is represented by PATRON Gallery and has worked with students, educators and institutions locally, throughout the United States and abroad; Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Horticultural Society of New York, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Smith College, University of Chicago, Spudnik Press, ACRE residency, Moraine Valley Community College, Columbia College, Abby Warburg library, Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Palau Coral Reef Research Foundation, Belize Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Oxbow School of Arts, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Recent Exhibitions include: Tiger Strikes Asteroid Gallery, PATRON Gallery, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Elmhurst Art Museum, Luce Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University, KMAC Museum, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.


Kelli Connell (She/Her/Hers)
Visual Based Arts
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Natalie Krick

Kelli Connell is an artist whose work investigates sexuality, gender, identity and photographer / sitter relationships. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, J Paul Getty Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and Museum of Contemporary Photography, among others. Publications of her work include PhotoWork: Forty Photographers on Process and Practice (Aperture), Photo Art: The New World of Photography (Aperture), and the monograph Kelli Connell: Double Life (DECODE Books). Connell has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, MacDowell, and The Center for Creative Photography. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at PLAYA, Peaked Hill Trust, LATITUDE, and Light Work. Kelli Connell lives in Chicago where she teaches at Columbia College Chicago. 


Dianna Frid (She/Her/Ella)
Visual Based Arts
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Dianna Frid

Dianna Frid is an artist working at the intersection of material texts and textiles. Her artist’s books and mixed-media works make visible the tactile manifestations of language. In her work, embroidery is a prominent vehicle for exploring the relationships between writing and drawing, and the overlaps of transcription, translation, and legibility.

Frid was born in Mexico City where she was first exposed to textiles as complex codes of material writing. At the age of fifteen she immigrated, with her family, to Vancouver, Canada. These and other points of reference help her situate her work alongside lineages that embrace art and needlework without pitting them in hierarchical opposition. Time, Rhythm, Process, and Matter are never in opposition.

Frid is Professor in the Art Department at UIC. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and she has received various grants including a 3Arts Award and support from the Canada Council for the Arts. On June 9, Frid and poet Victoria Chang will be presenting a performance lecture at Dia Chelsea (NY). This event will be accompanied by a limited-edition multiple they produced in collaboration. English is Dianna Frid's stepmother tongue.


Abbey Hepner (She/Her/Hers)
Visual Based Arts
Edwardsville, IL


Abbey Hepner is an artist and educator based in Edwardsville, Illinois. Hepner’s artistic practice examines health, technology, and our relationship with place through photography, performance, video, and installation-based work. She frequently works at the intersection of art and science, investigating biopolitics and the use of health as a currency. Her work has been exhibited widely in such venues as the Mt. Rokko International Photography Festival (Kobe, Japan), SITE Santa Fe, the Krannert Art Museum, the University of Buffalo Art Galleries, Noorderlicht Photofestival (Groningen, Netherlands), the University of Notre Dame, and the Lianzhou Foto Festival (Lianzhou, China). Her work has been recently highlighted in Hyperallergic, Lenscratch, Ars Technica, Artillery Magazine, and Fraction Magazine. She has been an artist in residence at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity in Canada, has presented at numerous Society for Photographic Education conferences, and was a 2020 Yuma Art Symposium presenter. Her monograph, The Light at the End of History, about nuclear issues was published by Daylight Books in 2021


Mayumi Lake (She/Her/Hers)
Visual Based Arts
Chicago, IL

http://mayumilake.com   Instagram: @deepfriedeast_mayumi 

Mayumi Lake (b. Osaka, Japan) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work delves into childhood and pubescent dreams, phobia, and desires. She employs herself and others as her models, as well as dolls, toys, weapons, vintage clothes, and altered landscapes as her props.

Mayumi has exhibited nationally and internationally at Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery, Asia Society, Art in General, Artists Space, New York; Chicago Artists Coalition, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; Midwest Museum of Contemporary Art, Carmel; Fotografie Forum International, Frankfurt; Cornelius Pleser Galerie, Munich; Galleria PaciArte, Brescia; FOTOAMERICA, Santiago; Witzenhausen Gallery, Amsterdam; O Gallery, Tokyo. She has published two monographs, “Poo-Chi” and “One Picture Book #55:Ex Post Facto” from Nazraeli Press. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Art Institute of Chicago, Asia Society, Video Art World, Museum of Sex, Joy of Giving Something Foundation, and Facebook. Mayumi received her BFA with a focus in Photography and Filmmaking and MFA in Photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Aedeok Lee, PhD(She/Her/Hers)
Ethnic & Folk Arts
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Aedeok Lee

Dr. Aedeok Lee performs and choreographs Korean traditional dance and contemporary works informed by traditional performance practices. Born in South Korea, Dr. Lee moved to the Chicago area in 2008, where she has established a distinguished career both as a professional artist as well as Founder/Director of the Chicago Korean Dance Company (CKDC). Dr. Lee is inspired and motivated by the beauty, depth and excellence of the Korean traditional performing arts, as well as the tremendous capacity these traditional forms have to be relevant, timely and meaningful today.

Dr. Lee has created an extensive body of dance pieces, sharing her work with the Korean American community and broader audiences across Illinois and the nation, as well as her worldwide audiences. She has performed across the nation as well as toured internationally, performing in countries including Norway, Italy, Brazil, Nicaragua, Russia and France.

Dr. Lee is deeply honored to be named a recipient of an Artist Fellowship award from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.


Cecil McDonald Jr. (He/Him)
Visual Based Arts
Chicago, IL


I am most interested in the intersections of masculinity, familial relations, and the artistic and intellectual pursuits of black culture, particular as this culture intersects with and informs the larger culture. Through photography, video, and dance/performance, I seek to investigate and question the norms and customs that govern our understanding of each other, our families, and the myriad of societal struggles and triumphs.


Hương Ngô (She/They)
New Art Forms
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Darryl DeAngelo Terrell

Hương Ngô’s history growing up as a refugee in the American South informs her lines of inquiry on colonialism and migration in her interdisciplinary, conceptual practice. Through multivalent interrogations of language, she mobilizes personal and collective histories to make visible larger structures of power. Her work, described as “deftly and defiantly decolonial” and “what intersectional feminist art looks like,” has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; the New Museum, New York; DePaul Art Museum, Chicago; and the Renaissance Society, Chicago, among other galleries and institutions. She has been supported by the Camargo Foundation, 3Arts Chicago, DCASE, and Chicago Artist Coalition, and was recently included in Prospect.5 New Orleans: Yesterday we said tomorrow.

Born in Hong Kong, Ngô earned a BFA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (2001), an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2004) and was a studio fellow at the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 2012. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Vietnam in 2016 and is currently Assistant Professor in Contemporary Practices at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 


Edna J. Patterson-Petty
Ethnic & Folk Arts
East St. Louis, IL

Photo Credit: Roscoe Crenshaw

My name is Edna J. Patterson-Petty and I am a life-long resident of East St. Louis, IL. I am a graduate of SIU-Edwardsville, with a BFA in Studio art and an MFA in Textile arts and an MA in Art Therapy. Although I am more known for my fabric art quilts, I also enjoy creating assemblage art using a variety of found and discarded objects, as well creating personal/public mosaic art.

I believe that a great part of my creativity consists of me using my intuition which guides my direction of constructing and choosing the materials for a specific project. I sometimes work in total silence; other times I have music playing that help to enhance the mood.


Melissa Pokorny (She/Her/Hers)
Visual Based Arts
Urbana, IL

Photo Credit: Melissa Pokorny

Melissa Pokorny makes sculptures and installations using lens-based and textile methods along with more traditional 3D materials and processes. Pokorny’s conceptual sources are found in the natural world, in landscape practices, and in the vitality and pull of the material world of non-human things. Her process foregrounds collecting—found objects, weird materials, non-traditional images of landscapes, and personal or utilitarian possessions. She combines these elements into assemblages that raise questions about ways of knowing the world, and how meaning is made through contrived relational systems. The resulting formal engagements and material interactions work to both complicate and reveal entangled complexities between multiple realities and worlds.

A life-long educator, Pokorny is a professor in the Studio Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Recent exhibitions at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and The McCarthy Art Center at St. Michaels College in Burlington, Vermont complement an exhibition record of over 25 years of solo and group shows at venues such as Gallery Paule Anglim, Victoria Room, New Langton Arts, and The Yerba Buena Arts Center in San Francisco; Bodybuilder and Sportsman, Gallery 400, Devening Projects + editions, Slow, and Heaven in Chicago, and Front Room Gallery in NYC.

Juan M Roman Jr.
Ethnic & Folk Arts
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Jan Repa

Juan M Roman Jr was born in the mid 1950’s in Puerto Rico, USA.  He is a self-taught artist who has been drawing since picking up a pencil, and, mostly known for his Vejigante carnival masks. 

In the absence of formal training, he started teaching himself drawing by tracing the small line drawings included in Webster’s dictionary starting around the age of 5 in Chicago. In high school in the early 1970’s, he was the school newspaper cartoonist. 

When revisiting Puerto Rico in the mid 1960’s as a kid, he was intrigued by the sight of the native iguanas, that, in those times, were numerous on the western side of the island.  Years later, during one of his visits to Puerto Rico as an adult, he happened upon a museum exhibit in the children’s section that showed how to make a Vejigante mask.  This was his first impetus to design and make his own masks, with the inspiration of the Mona Island iguana to be used as the mold of the Vejigante face mask. Trial and error had resulted perfecting the technique. The importance of Vejigante masks as an art form connects the present with the past.  It incorporates spatial composition with the placement of horns, multimedia materials, as well as using his choice of color and painting, that have defined his style.      

Juan M Roman Jr. also believes in mentoring young people. In the past, he was involved in teaching the concept of Vejigante mask making in an after-school program at the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance in Chicago, IL, USA, and plans to continue mentoring young students in a variety of settings.

Langton Arts, and The Yerba Buena Arts Center in San Francisco; Bodybuilder and Sportsman, Gallery 400, Devening Projects + editions, Slow, and Heaven in Chicago, and Front Room Gallery in NYC.

Aram Han Sifuentes (She/They)
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Sarah Whyte

Aram Han Sifuentes is a fiber and social practice artist who creates participatory projects that center immigrant and disenfranchised communities. Her work often revolves around skill sharing, specifically sewing techniques, to create multiethnic and intergenerational sewing circles, which become a place for empowerment, subversion, and protest. Solo exhibitions of her work have been presented at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (Chicago), Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago), Chicago Cultural Center (Chicago), Pulitzer Arts Foundation (St. Louis), moCa Cleveland (Cleveland), and Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles).

Aram is a 2016 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, 2016 3Arts Award and 2021 3Arts Next Level Awardee, 2020 Map Fund Grantee, and 2022 Center of Craft’s Craft Research Fund Artist Fellow. Her project Protest Banner Lending Library was a finalist for the Beazley Design Awards at the Design Museum (London, UK) in 2016. She earned her BA in Art and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and her MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently an associate professor, adjunct, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a board member of NAKASEC. 


Deb Sokolow (She/Her/Hers)
Visual Based Arts
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Deb Sokolow

Deb Sokolow is an artist and writer whose drawings and books focus on the idiosyncratic, humorous aspects of semi-fictitious architectural environments while hinting at the concealed agendas and social engineering involved in the design and use of existing corporate, institutional, domestic and entertainment spaces. Her work has been included in the 4th Athens Biennale (Athens, Greece) and in exhibitions at Museum für Gegenwartskunst (Siegen, Germany), Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven, Netherlands), The Drawing Center (New York), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.), Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia) and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford). Sokolow’s drawings have been reproduced for BOMB Magazine, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Best American Comics and in Phaidon’s Vitamin D2, a survey on contemporary drawing. Her work is in a number of collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. She received an MFA in Studio (Fiber and Material Studies) from the School of the Art Institute in 2004 and a BFA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1996. Sokolow is based in Chicago and is a faculty member in the department of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.


Edra Soto (She/Her)
Visual Based Arts
Chicago, IL


Puerto Rican born, Edra Soto is an interdisciplinary artist and co-director of The Franklin. She is invested in providing visual and educational models propelled by empathy and generosity. Soto has been awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, the inaugural Foundwork Prize and the Efroymson Fellowship among others. Soto has exhibited at venues including El Museo del Barrio, NY; The Momentary, AK; Abrons Art Center, NY and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago, IL. Soto’s work was included in three exhibitions supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund: Repatriation at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Cross Currents at the Smart Museum in Chicago, and Close to There in Salvador, Brazil. Some of her public art commissions include: Screenhouse at Millennium Park, Remnants | Restos in collaboration with Dan Sullivan at the CTA Western Blue Line and Victoria for Meta Open Arts. She has attended residency programs at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency, Headlands Center for the Arts, Art Omi and Project Row Houses among others. Soto holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico.


Dennis Stroughmatt
Ethnic & Folk Arts
Albion, IL

Photo Credit: Kimberly Manning

Dennis Stroughmatt, from the southeastern Illinois town of Albion, is a featured speaker for The Illinois Humanities Council’s “Road Scholars,” the Missouri Humanities "Program Bureau," and a touring musical artist for the Illinois Arts Council “Artstour.” Dennis is a multi-award-winning Creole French speaking fiddler, vocalist and educator who carries on the French cultural traditions that have existed in “Old Upper Louisiana,” for over 300 years.  This area stretches from Vincennes, Indiana, across southern Illinois, to Old Mines, in southeast Missouri.  Beginning in the early 1990s, Dennis studied with French Creole fiddlers and singers in southwestern Illinois and southeast Missouri.  In addition, he has also lived and worked in Lafayette, Louisiana and Quebec, Canada. During that time, he gained a deep knowledge of fiddling and Creole ballad styles that were nearly extinct and is considered to be the foremost artist of the style.  He has since expanded his repertoire to western swing fiddle styles and was inducted into the National Old Time Fiddlers Hall of Fame in 2015.  Featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” some of his performances have included The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, The Library of Congress, The Kennedy Center, and The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.   


Ann Toebbe (She/Her/Hers)
Visual Based Arts
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Clare Britt 

Ann Toebbe was born in Cincinnati and received her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1997. She earned an MFA in painting from Yale University in 2004 and a DAAD Scholarship to the Universität der Kunst, Berlin in 2004-05. She has been the recipient of numerous grants including a Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, a Sustainable Arts Foundation Grant, and Chicago DCASE and IL Arts Council IAP Grants. Recent residencies include The Ragdale Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, and AiR at Pilchuck Glass School. Over the past two years Toebbe curated an exhibition at The Spring Break Art Fair, NYC, and was included in group exhibitions at Nassima-Landau Project, Tel Aviv, Goldfinch Gallery, Chicago, Standard Space, CT, 1969 Gallery, NYC, Poker Flats, MA, and Allouche Benias Gallery, Greece. In 2022 Toebbe presented a solo exhibition Cooler by the Lake at Tibor de Nagy Gallery and a survey exhibition Midway at The University of Illinois Springfield traveling to Wasserman Projects in Detroit. Toebbe is represented by Tibor de Nagy in NYC and Steven Zevitas Gallery in Boston.


Mel Watkin (She/Her/Hers)
Visual Based Arts
Cobden, IL


Mel Watkin’s work has been shown nationally with solo exhibitions at Franklin Furnace Archives, New York, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, Laumeier Sculpture Park, 

St. Louis, and the Addison/Ripley Gallery, Washington, D.C. Recent group exhibitions include the American University Museum of Art, Washington, D.C., the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan and Longue Vue House and Garden, New Orleans. Watkin’s 2020-2022 exhibitions include “Revolving” at the Sheldon Art Galleries, Saint Louis, “Trees Bark” at the Kranzberg Foundation for the Arts, Saint Louis and “Art Along the Rivers” at the Saint Louis Art Museum. In addition, the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago commissioned her to create three map-based works and Southern Illinois Healthcare Cancer Institute commissioned eight small works on paper. Her work is in the collections of the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Illinois State Museum, Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas, and the Book Art Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, among other venues. In 2010, Watkin created a permanent public artwork with Franz Meyer Glassworks of Munich, Germany for the “C” Concourse at Lambert St. Louis International Airport. Grant awards include a 2021 Illinois Artists Project grant, a Critical Mass grant, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship, and a Pyramid Atlantic artist’s book award.

Tali Weinberg (She/They)
Champaign, IL


Tali Weinberg draws on weaving’s embodied and relational qualities, its mathematical patterning, and mythologies of weaving as a subversive language for marginalized people to create work in response to worsening climate crisis. Her textiles, sculptures, and drawings trace relationships between rising temperatures, fossil fuel extraction, illness, and sense of place; between personal and communal loss; and between corporeal and ecological bodies. Weinberg’s work is held in public and private collections and is exhibited internationally. Exhibitions include the Griffith Art Museum, 21C Museum, Berkeley Art Museum, University of Colorado Art Museum, Center for Craft, Praxis, and Form & Concept. Her art has been featured in academic journals and popular press including the New York Times, onEarth Magazine, Surface Design Journal, Fiber Art Now, and Ecotone. Honors include the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Serenbe Fellowship, Windgate Fellowship to Vermont Studio Center, Lia Cook Jacquard Residency, SciArt Bridge Residency for cross-disciplinary collaboration, and a residency at the Museum of Art and Design, among others. She has taught at California College of the Arts (CCA), University of Tulsa, and Penland School of Craft. Tali holds an MFA from CCA and a BA and MA from New York University.


Marlena Novak and Jay Alan Yim: localStyle (She/Her/Hers), (He/Him/His)
Digital Arts
Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Marlena Novak

Following a decade and a half of establishing their international artistic and musical solo careers, Marlena Novak and Jay Alan Yim founded localStyle in 2000 as a platform for collaboration, addressing issues of climate change and extractivism and expanding to focus on non-human others via themes such as the mating behavior of non-binary marine flatworms, the sonification of electric fish, speculative blackbird grammar, and the crisis facing coral reefs, whom they consider the voice of the Anthropocene. Their video installation Timeslips is both a poetic meditation and critique concerning the entanglements wrought by human geoengineering, in the mind of a fictional scientist on Mars. Their intermedia works—a practice that includes experimental 3D animation, 3D printing, processed video, digital sound, interactive installations, live performance with electronics, audience participation, and site-specific sculpture—have been presented in museums, galleries, and alternative venues in more than fifty cities worldwide from Abu Dhabi to Warsaw. Collectively they have received grants, awards, and commissions from the Arts Council of Great Britain, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, NEA, Guggenheim Foundation, Kennedy Center, New York State Council on the Arts, DCASE, and others. Since 2017 they have also been members of Deep Time Chicago.

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