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Graphic containing headshots of 2021 Kresge Artist Fellows

Kresge Arts in Detroit is thrilled to announce the artists receiving 2021 Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards in Literary Arts and Visual Arts!

Last year, in recognition of the impact of COVID-19 to the arts community, Kresge expanded funding to support two additional Kresge Artist Fellows, for a total of 20 annual fellowships, and an additional eight Gilda Awards, for a total of 10. In announcing the 2021 award recipients working in Literary Arts and Visual Arts, Kresge Arts in Detroit and The Kresge Foundation commit to sustaining this increased level of investment.

The 2021 cohort of Kresge Artist Fellows includes luminaries of the Detroit art scene, as well as rising stars.


Emell Derra Adolphus, Creative Nonfiction
Danielle Aubert, Interdisciplinary Work
Jeni De La O, Poetry
Ann Eskridge, Playwriting
Tariq Luthun, Poetry
MARS Marshall, Poetry
Jassmine Parks, Spoken Word
B. Van Randall, Graphic Novels
Casey Rocheteau, Poetry
Zig Zag Claybourne, Fiction


Peter Daniel Bernal, Painting
Judy Bowman, Collage
Brian Day, Photography
Darcel Deneau, Glass
Solomon Johnson, Illustration
Gisela McDaniel, Painting
Sabrina Nelson, Interdisciplinary Work
Rachel Reid, Animation
Andrew “AndyT” Thompson, Installation
Graem Whyte, Interdisciplinary Work

In addition to a $25,000 no strings attached award, Kresge Artist Fellows receive one year of professional development support and inclusion in Kresge Arts in Detroit’s ongoing commissioned film series, which has documented the work and perspectives of fellows throughout the program’s history. Short individual artist videos are available online at and Vimeo. The 2021 fellows’ films will go online next spring.

Graphic containing headshots of 2021 Gilda Award recipients


Bayan Founas, Spoken Word
Ana Gavrilovska, Arts Criticism
Rochelle Marrett, Fiction
Donnevan Tolbert, Playwriting


Ijania Cortez, Painting
Bakpak Durden
, Painting
Jessica Frelinghuysen, Performance Art
Cyrus Karimipour, Photography
Cinnamon Triano, Video Art
Neha Vedpathak, Painting

Gilda Award recipients were chosen from among the applicants for the 2021 Kresge Artist Fellowships. In keeping with the late Gilda Snowden’s legacy of encouraging and mentoring early-career artists, Gilda Awards recognize artists who are early in their artistic career, are gaining momentum, and who demonstrate exceptional potential through creative risk-taking and pushing the boundaries of their chosen art forms.

Over the course of several months and numerous rounds of review, panels comprised of local and national artists and arts professionals evaluated over 800 applications to select the artists who receive 2021 Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards. “As someone whose fellowship year ended as our city shut down for the pandemic, it was a tremendous honor to serve as a Literary Arts panelist in this year of reopening,” said Literary Arts panelist and 2019 Kresge Artist Fellow Jack Cheng. “I am continually impressed with—and humbled by—the sheer amount of artistic talent in metro Detroit. To connect with this diverse cohort’s work, and learn more about their involvement in their respective communities, was a true pleasure.”

The selection criteria for Kresge Artist Fellowships include: A demonstrated track record of artistic achievement and high-quality work, the potential to grow and advance in one’s artistic career, and the potential to reflect, enhance, or impact communities within metropolitan Detroit.


Sarika Chandra, Associate professor of English, Wayne State University
Jack Cheng, Author; 2019 Kresge Artist Fellow
Douglas Kearney, Poet; performer; assistant professor of English, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Jina B. Kim, Feminist literary scholar; writer; assistant professor of English and the study of women and gender, Smith College
Leslie Reese, Writer; poet; creator of Folklore & Literacy; teaching artist, Chicago Poetry Center


Sima Familant, Private curator & art advisor
John Brinton Hogan, Photographer and mixed-media artist; sound artist; operations manager, Museum of Photographic Arts
Sydney G. James, Fine artist/muralist; 2017 Kresge Artist Fellow; 2018 Fellowship.Art fellow; 2020 Alain Locke Award recipient
Osman Khan, Artist; associate professor, Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan
Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Artist

An online celebration of the 2021 award recipients is scheduled for the evening of July 15. The public, virtual event will include remarks from the 30 award recipients, performances by Kresge Artist Fellows Cherise Morris (2019) and Passalacqua (2012), as well as reflections on Detroit’s arts and culture sector from Carole Harris (2019 fellowship panelist and 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow), Rip Rapson (president and CEO, The Kresge Foundation), and Don Tuski (president, College for Creative Studies) in a conversation moderated by W. Kim Heron (senior communications officer, The Kresge Foundation). Information is available on Eventbrite.

Funded by The Kresge Foundation, Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards are administered by the Kresge Arts in Detroit office of the College for Creative Studies. In announcing the 13th cohort of award recipients, Kresge Arts in Detroit has thus far awarded 238 Kresge Artist Fellowships, 32 Gilda Awards, and 13 Kresge Eminent Artist Awards for a total of more than $6.7 million.