Maine Arts Commission Celebrates Exceptional Talent with 2024 Fellowship Awards

  • February 20, 2024

Maine Arts Commission Celebrates Exceptional Talent with Fellowship Tea

The 2023 and 2024 Artist Fellows from left to right, Bobbi Tardif, Jeri Theriault, Autumn Cipala, Genius Black, Erica Moody, Brittany Parker (holding a laptop with Antonio Rocha), Julia Morringello, Governor Janet Mills, Cole Caswell, Kendric Chua, and Veronica Perez. (Missing from photo: 2024 Traditional Arts Fellow Peter Neptune, 2023 Media Arts Fellow Asha Tamirisa.

 AUGUSTA, MAINE – The Maine Arts Commission, in collaboration with Governor Janet Mills, hosted an intimate Fellowship Tea at the historic Blaine House in Augusta on February 8. The event celebrated both the outgoing 2023 and incoming 2024 Maine Arts Commission Artistic Fellows, providing a unique opportunity for these artists to share their experiences and aspirations for future collaborations. Commission Chair David Hopkins and Governor Mills offered opening remarks, extending warm congratulations to the fellows, and Commissioner Bob Keyes concluded the event by encouraging them to view themselves as ambassadors of Maine arts.

Members of the Maine Arts Commission from left, Dan Cashman, Craig Watson, Jessica Masse, Bob Keyes, Governor Janet Mills, David Hopkins, Donna McNeil, and Jo Dondis. 

The Arts Commission's Maine Artist Fellowship Awards, honors artistic brilliance, supports Maine artists in their careers, and spotlights the vibrancy of the state's creative community. Recognized solely for their artistic merit, the seven distinguished artists for 2024 are: (View Full Profiles HERE)

Julie Morringello (Belvedere Craft Fellow): 

Location: Deer Isle, Maine

Julie Morringello, operating under the studio name Modernmaine on Deer Isle, crafts sculptural lighting that merges artistic expressiveness with innovative design. With a background in industrial and furniture design, Julie's hands-on approach and experimentation with materials result in lights that possess a warm and organic quality, embracing imperfections that highlight the handcrafted process.

Autumn Cipala (Fine Craft Fellow):

Location: Thomaston, Maine

Ceramic artist and educator Autumn Cipala, based in Thomaston, Maine, brings two decades of experience to her craft. Her work, exhibited nationally and internationally, reflects a deep connection to her rural upbringing on a working farm in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Autumn's commitment to ceramics extends beyond her studio, as she imparts her knowledge through teaching and presentations.

Kendric Chua (Literary Fellow):

Location: Portland, Maine

Kendric Chua's literary journey finds roots in his childhood fascination with the vivid descriptions of Maine in Stephen King's novels. Emigrating from the Philippines to Portland, Kendric pursued his dream of becoming a published author, and today, he proudly calls Maine home. His works, including a completed novel and various short stories, reflect his passion for storytelling and celebrate the underrepresented voices.

Genius Black (Media Arts Fellow):

Location: South Portland, Maine

Genius Black, also known as Jerry Edwards, is a multifaceted social innovator, entrepreneur, and musical artist based in South Portland. A storyteller at heart, Genius focuses on collaboration, audio and video production, and community engagement. He curates the musical collective GEM CITY Maine, hosts the podcast "Maine’s Black Future," and actively contributes to media and communications initiatives.

Antonio Rocha (Performing Arts Fellow):

Location: Gray, Maine

Description: Originally from Brazil, Antonio Rocha captivates audiences with his unique fusion of mime and storytelling. Trained under Tony Montanaro, Rocha seamlessly transitions between characters and narratives, earning acclaim on national and international stages. His recent work, "The Malaga Ship: a story of Maine and of the Middle Passage," blends Maine history with personal and cultural narratives.

Peter Neptune (Traditional Arts Fellow):

Location: Perry, Maine

Description: Peter Neptune, a Passamaquoddy basket maker and cultural bearer, embodies the rich tradition of basket weaving. Rooted in familial connections and traditional ecological knowledge, Neptune's baskets are crafted for practical use, sustaining and renewing ties to Passamaquoddy culture. As a dedicated teacher, he ensures the continuity of this essential tradition.

Veronica Perez (Visual Arts Fellow):

Veronica Perez of Westbrook, Maine, is a visual artist and social justice advocate explores themes of erasure, identity, and interdependency. Through sculpture and storytelling, Perez engages intimate stories and experiences, presenting them through the lens of hair and textiles. Workshops like "braiding circles" foster discussions on identity, belonging, and power from a BIPOC perspective.

Each of these exceptional artists receives a $5,000 fellowship to support and enhance their artistic pursuits. The Maine Arts Commission commends their significant contributions to the state's cultural tapestry and eagerly anticipates the continued impact of their work.


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Ryan Leighton

193 State Street
SHS 25
Augusta  ME  04333