Pew Fellowships in the Arts Announces 2008 Award Recipients

Pew Fellowships in the Arts Announces 2008 Award Recipients

Pew Fellowships in the Arts today announced the Philadelphia-area artists who have received $60,000 fellowship awards for 2008—an increase of $10,000 from previous years—and the largest such grants in the country for which individual artists can apply. This year the awards went to artists working in folk and traditional arts, painting, and playwriting, and were selected from a pool of 323 applicants. The 2008 Pew Fellows are:

  • Charles Burwell, painting   
  • Felix “Pupi” Legarreta, folk & traditional arts
  • J. Rufus Caleb, playwriting   
  • Matthew Cox, painting
  • Russell Davis, playwriting   
  • Katharine Clark Gray, playwriting
  • Nana Korantemaa, folk & traditional arts 
  • Vera Nakonechny, folk & traditional arts
  • Venissa Santí, folk & traditional arts  
  • Anne Seidman, painting
  • Edgar J. Shockley III, playwriting  
  • Mauro Zamora, painting

A head shaman of the Akan (West African) tradition; a licensed electrician and Cuban Charanga musician; a playwright who set out to write 100 plays and is at work on his 71st; an abstract painter whose current solo exhibition has been widely critically praised; and a German-born Ukrainian who came to Philadelphia via Brazil and creates traditional Ukrainian embroidery describe just a few of the new Pew Fellows. Collectively, this year's Fellows—all at varying points in their careers—represent a lively and diverse spectrum of aesthetics and traditions.

“The Pew Fellowships is in its 17th year, having awarded 220 fellowships to 225 artists1  totaling more than $11 million. It is a highly competitive process and each year I am awed by the dedication and commitment demonstrated by Philadelphia-area artists. By supporting the region's most talented artists, the Fellowships highlight the important contributions they make to the rich cultural life of Philadelphia and beyond,” notes Pew Fellowships in the Arts Director, Melissa Franklin.

“We are proud to continue Pew's long-standing commitment to the community of artists in Philadelphia and delighted to support this year's Pew Fellows in recognition of their exemplary contributions to the artistic vitality of our city and region,” noted Marian Godfrey, Managing Director, Culture and Civic Initiatives of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Pew Fellowships in the Arts is located at the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts. The goal of the program is to award outstanding artists who live and work in the five-county Philadelphia area, who have a demonstrated commitment and professional accomplishment within their field, and who will continue their artistic growth within the five-county Philadelphia area. The grants provide artists with economic freedom so that they have the opportunity to concentrate on their work over a considerable period of time—to explore, to experiment, and to develop it more fully. The program aims to provide such support at moments in artists' careers when a concentration on artistic growth and exploration is most likely to have the greatest impact on an artist's long-term personal and professional development.

The fellowships are for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years. Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis and selections are made through a two-phase peer-review process involving preliminary and final selection panels. For the recipients, this honor reflects both their distinction within the discipline-specific pool and the collective judgment of the final, interdisciplinary panel. This year's interdisciplinary panel included:

  • Thelma Golden (panel chair), director and chief curator, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City
  • Robert H. Browning, executive and artistic director, World Music Institute, New York City
  • Lisa Kron, playwright and performer, New York
  • Byron Kim, artist, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Robert O'Hara, playwright and director, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Dr. Kay Turner, folk arts director, Brooklyn Arts Council, N.Y.

Serving on the Folk & Traditional panel were: Robert H. Browning; Marsha MacDowell, curator of folk arts, Michigan State University, East Lansing; Halifu Osumare, associate professor, African American and African Studies, University of California, Davis.  Serving on the Painting panel were: Byron Kim; Amy Sillman, artist and co-chair of Painting, Bard College M.F.A. program, New York City and Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.; Lynn Zelevansky, Terri and Michael Smooke curator and department head Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Calif. Serving on the Playwriting panel were: Lisa Kron; Julie Jensen, resident playwright, Salt Lake Acting Company, Salt Lake City, Utah; Robert O'Hara. 

1 *Fellowships have been awarded to 3 collaborative teams over the years.

Opened in November 2005, the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage (PCAH) houses seven existing initiatives of The Pew Charitable Trusts. These programs are dedicated to assisting cultural organizations in the five-county Southeastern Pennsylvania region in developing high-quality public programs and effective management practices. PCAH is the home of Dance Advance, Heritage Philadelphia Program, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative, Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, Philadelphia Music Project, and Philadelphia Theatre Initiative. The Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts.

The University of the Arts is the nation's first and only university dedicated to the visual, performing, and communication arts. Its 2,300 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs on its campus in the heart of Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts. Its history as a leader in educating creative individuals spans more than 130 years. For further information about The University of the Arts call 215.717.6000, or visit