2024 Maine Artist Fellowships
2024 Maine Artist Fellowships header image

The Maine Arts Commission’s Fellowships reward artistic excellence, advance the careers of Maine artists and promote public awareness regarding the eminence of the creative sector in Maine. The awards are made solely on the basis of artistic excellence. Due to the competitiveness of the Individual Artist Fellowship program and to avoid conflict of interest, all jurors selected for this program reside out of state. The seven fellows for 2024 are:

Julie Morringello creates sculptural lighting on Deer Isle under the studio name Modernmaine. For Julie, lighting is a means of scratching an interdisciplinary itch: her work embraces the hands-on expressiveness of the artist and craftsperson, as well as the innovation and problem-solving of the designer. She experiments with a wide array of materials and construction processes. While she readily employs the use of digital technology, all of her lights are ultimately made by hand in her studio, and the slight imperfections inherent in that process give them a warm and organic quality. Julie studied industrial and furniture design at Rhode Island School of Design. After receiving her MFA, she became a founding member of a five-person cooperative artist studio in a defunct textile mill New Bedford, MA. There she made studio furniture for galleries and commissions. In 2000 she moved to Maine, after serving several stints as a teaching assistant at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. She founded Modernmaine in 2011. In addition to her studio practice, Julie has taught design and woodworking to people of all ages and abilities in settings such as RISD, the Nemasket Group, the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, Worcester Center for Crafts, and Haystack. She has exhibited her work widely in galleries as well as craft and trade shows, such as the Philadelphia Fine Furniture Show (Best of Show), The Society of Arts and Crafts (2017 Artist Award), the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in NYC and the Salon du Meubles in Paris. Julie currently lives in Stonington with her husband, fellow artist Eugene Koch, and their daughter, Mitike, and corgi, Fred.

Autumn Cipala is a ceramic artist and educator who has been working from her studio in midcoast Maine for twenty years. She holds an MFA from University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and a BFA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Born and raised on a working farm in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Autumn acquired her art education through academic study and apprenticeship in the US and England. Autumn has taught at numerous colleges, and has been a presenting artist at the Akal Exchange Symposium in Amizmiz, Morocco, the Maine College of Art, and other institutions, with an upcoming assignment as a presenting artist at the Utilitarian Clay VIII National Symposium. She has received numerous grants and awards from organizations including NCECA, Strictly Functional Pottery National, and the Maine Arts Commission. Her work is exhibited nationally and internationally.

Kendric’s connection with Maine began years ago within the pages of his first Stephen King novel, across the Pacific Ocean, on the northernmost island of the Philippines. A product of an international Catholic school, Kendric learned English not just from foreign teachers but from books and television; both of which had nurtured a strong sense of wonder and passion for the English language. Growing up gay in a community with strong Catholic roots, Kendric spent most of his childhood in his imagination and within the fictional worlds of others. It was through his insatiable consumption of fiction – both on screen and between the covers of a book – that Kendric first came across the state of Maine through the vivid and captivating descriptions of Stephen King. Picking up a copy of Carrie and watching the films “Cat’s Eye” and “Rose Red,” in early adolescence had sealed the deal. He emigrated to the United States when he was fifteen, attended high school in New Jersey, then earned his BFA in Visual Effects from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. After a short period as a graphic designer, Kendric took a leap of faith, switching careers to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a published author. Today, he proudly calls Maine home. He has finished the first draft of his first novel and written several short stories, most of which are set in Maine. Kendric is currently being coached by Maine novelist and transgender activist Alex Myers. In addition, Kendric volunteers his design skills to benefit non-profit organizations, providing professional graphic design services free of charge. He strives to celebrate the stories of underrepresented groups and to prove that even those “from away” with enough grit, a true heart, and a taste for lobster can call “vacation land” their home.

Genius Black, also known as Jerry Edwards, is a social innovator, entrepreneur, and musical artist based in South Portland, Maine. Naturally a storyteller and motivator, he focuses on collaboration and audio and video production as crafts. Genius curates a collaborative collective of musical talent, GEM CITY Maine. He holds a degree in Africana Studies from Bowdoin College, and was a founding Co-Director of Black Owned Maine. He is the father of two, 16 and 19 years old. He produces and hosts Maine’s Black Future podcast with the Maine Monitor, focusing on historic and current influential Black Mainers. Genius is a Media and Communications Organizer for TheThirdPlace, a Portland Media Center and Portland Ovations board member, and was Emcee for the Maine Immigrant Forum’s inaugural event in 2023.

Antonio Rocha (pronounced Haw-sha), originally from Brazil, came to Maine in 1988 to study mime under Tony Montanaro at the Celebration Barn Theater. He also earned a Summa Cum Laude Theater BA from the University of Southern Maine which assured more time with Montanaro. Then, in 1995 Antonio Rocha took a two week intensive invitational workshop with Marcel Marceau in Ohio. It was in the early 90s that Antonio Rocha started to experiment with his fusion of movement and spoken narrative. As he meticulously portrays his characters with well crafted physical characteristics (animals and people depending on the story) the audiences become mesmerized as he seamlessly transitions between the characters, the story's natural environment and himself as the narrator. This attention to detail caught the interest of national and international events. He has performed his unique fusion of mime and storytelling in 20 countries on 6 continents and 44 US states. Some of the venues include The Kennedy Center, The Mesa Performing Arts Center, Edo Museum in Tokyo, The National Storytelling Festival, Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, The Cave Run Storytelling Festival, The Graz Festival in Austria and The Singapore Festival of the Arts. Some of the events with multiple returns. A critically acclaimed performer, Antonio Rocha can entertain from elementary school age kids to teens and adults with physical comedy, poetic mime pieces, folklore and historical material such as his latest work, The Malaga Ship: a story of Maine and of the Middle Passage, which has been presented in various states, and throughout Maine through Portland Ovations in the Spring of 2023. This performance is his best work to date blending not only Maine History, but also that of Brazil, Africa, the Middle Passage and his own personal and family origins. This work also landed him an article in Maine’s prestigious DownEast Magazine. This performance was developed with financial support from Indigo Arts Alliance, The Maine Arts Commission and the New England Foundation for the Arts. Antonio is also a two time TEDx presenter, a solo theater coach , and a recipient of the coveted Circle of Excellence Award by the National Storytelling Network for his "exceptional commitment and exemplary contributions to the art of storytelling. For more information about this unique performer, please visit www.storyinmotion.com

Peter Neptune is a Passamaquoddy basket maker and cultural bearer. He is part of a long lineage of fancy and work basket makers that goes back to his great grandparents who have lived and worked at Sipayik for generations. His work baskets are made to be used – from pack baskets to “shoppers” these sturdy ash containers are the work horses of the basket tradition.

Weaving and gathering ash strengthen traditional bonds. Before any weaving begins, Peter has to find and prepare a Brown Ash tree to pound and split and eventually weave. These skills are also passed down from generation to generation and Peter is among an important company of traditional ecological knowledge bearers. He is also very knowledgeable about harvesting sweet grass that grows wild and is essential in Wabanaki ceremonies and for decorating baskets.

Basketmaking is a fundamental way of teaching the art and values of the Passamaquoddy. For decades, Peter has been a dedicated and patient teacher of traditional skills among his family and fellow tribal members. Like his sisters, he has taught nieces, daughters and grandchildren, one- on- one, the painstaking process of preparing and making ash into beautiful baskets.

Making baskets sustains and renews Peter’s ties to his family and tribe. Like the growth rings of the ash tree, the weaving tradition connects him to past and future weavers, joining them as a people and a community. For Peter Neptune, his baskets are a tangible expression of the whole of Passamaquoddy culture.

Veronica Perez is an artist who works alongside the community to speak about erasure, identity, and interdependency. As a visual artist who is also a social justice and cultural worker, Perez uses these frames of reference to situate their work deep within intimate stories and experiences - and share them with a broader audience through sculpture and story. The sculptures present themselves through hair and textiles, materials that elicit futures, pasts, and many stories braided together. She achieves this through her workshops called braiding circles which are intimate community gatherings focused on braiding a three-strand braid and discussing identity through the lens of belonging, acceptance, and power through a BIPOC lens. In 2014 she received her BFA from Moore College of Art and Design, and in 2016 obtained her MFA at the Maine College of Art. In 2020, they were awarded the Ellis-Beaureguard Visual Arts Fellowship. In 2021 they were the inaugural fellow at the David C. Driskell Black Seed Studio at Indigo Arts Alliance. In 2022, they were a fellow at the Lunder Institute at Colby College. Perez also subsequently had their first solo exhibition titled 'voices, whispering' at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. In 2023, she was the artist in residence at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham and held an exhibition titled 'shadow / echo / memory.' She has an upcoming show at the Chocolate Church in Bath, Maine titled '...but you don’t see where…’ Perez is the Administrative Assistant at Indigo Arts Alliance, a Black-led arts and residency organization in Portland, Maine. They are also a co-organizer in Tender Table, an organization focused on uplifting Maine's Black and Brown community through storytelling and food. Presently, Perez lives with her child and partner in Westbrook, Maine.

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