Rhode Islanders Anthony Giannini, Leslie Hirst and Daniel Sousa have each received $25,000 through the Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund. Above, screenshots from the trailer of Sousa's film "Feral," which has been nominated for Best Animated Short Film in the 2014 Academy Awards.
Rhode Island artists Anthony Giannini, Leslie Hirst and 2014 Academy Award nominee Daniel Sousa have been awarded $25,000 fellowships by the Rhode Island Foundation.
The Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund has provided the funding for the $25,000 awards, which enable artists to spend more time on the creative process, concentrate on personal or professional development, expand their bodies of work and explore new directions. The annual awards rotate among composers, writers and visual artists.
The recipients were chosen from nearly 200 applicants by a panel of four out-of-state jurors who are recognized practicing artists and arts professionals. Visual artists of all media and disciplines were eligible to apply.
Sousa, who lives in Pawtucket, graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. His film “Feral” is an Oscar nominee for Best Animated Short Film, and his work has been honored by the Busan International Short Film Festival, the Arizona International Film Festival and the Annecy International Animation Festival.
The fellowship will enable Sousa to devote more uninterrupted time and resources to pursue his personal film work, rent studio space and production equipment, and hire animation assistants that will free him to continue producing, as well as apply to more film festivals for exposure.
Giannini, a 2012 RISD graduate, works out of his Pawtucket studio and recently completed a solo exhibition at the Oliver Francis Gallery in Dallas. The fellowship will allow him to build two individual bodies of large-scale works for solo exhibitions at Walter Otero Contemporary Art in Puerto Rico in 2014 and 2016.
Hirst received an M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Pawtucket resident has received fellowships, grants and residencies from RISD, the R.I. State Council on the Arts and Yaddo, among others. Her work has been exhibited internationally.
She will use the fellowship for travel and professional activities in association with an upcoming artist’s residency in Venice, Italy, and to pursue an audience-interactive public art project and give the public more access to her work.
The panel also named three finalists, who received no cash award: Jennaca Davies, a North Kingstown jewelry designer with a master’s degree in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from RISD; Mary Beth Meehan, a Providence photographer whose latest project documents the challenges faced by undocumented immigrants; and Asya Palatova, a Providence artist who markets her ceramics through her studio, “gleena.”