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2021 Emerging Artists Cohort

2021 Emerging Artists Cohort

Emerging Artists Cohort webpage graphic

The American Craft Council launched its Emerging Artists Cohort in 2021 as a new three-month pilot program designed to cultivate the next step for independent craft artists to advance their professional careers. The program provided support to 13 innovative artists new to their careers who are expanding craft boundaries and challenging us to new perspectives.

Through facilitated workshops, presentations, and conversations, participating artists gained a deeper understanding of the professional skills and opportunities that will help them diversify income streams and thrive in their chosen careers. Participating artists connected with established industry leaders from a variety of craft sectors including gallerists, curators, marketplace artists, exhibiting artists, social practice artists, designers, and more. After the three-month program concluded, all participating artists received an incubator grant to help propel them to the next level of their profession.

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Meet Our 2021 Emerging Artists Cohort

portrait of douglas dale

Douglas Dale received their BA from Grinnell College in 2015 with honors and time at Sorbonne Université in Paris. Their work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows, including Fiber Art Now, American Craft Council, Sebastopol Center for the Arts California, Galesburg Civic Art Center, North Dakota Museum of Art, the Center for the Visual Arts of Wausau Wisconsin, and the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Dale uses they/them pronouns and currently lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri. | @douggdale

portrait of sophie glenn

Born and raised in New York City, Sophie Glenn received her BFA in Sculpture and Drawing from SUNY Purchase College, and her MFA in Furniture Design and Woodworking from San Diego State University. She has exhibited her work across the country, including at Blue Spiral 1 Gallery (North Caroline), the Center for Art in Wood (Pennsylvania), and the Metal Museum (Tennessee), and has been fortunate to receive several grants, fellowships, and residencies to help advance her career. Sophie has held academic appointments at Tennessee Technological University and Mississippi State University, and taught workshops at A Workshop of Our Own (Maryland), Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (Tennessee) and the Appalachian Center for Craft (Tennessee). | @arcburn_furniture

Portrait of Daphne Lee

The bespoke paper art studio JUDiTH+ROLFE was launched in 2016 by Daphne Lee. Lee was born in Singapore and was an architect in New York City before unexpectedly discovering her love of paper art following a move to the Twin Cities. She is a self-taught paper artist who specializes in creating contemporary artwork out of on-edge paper strips. The dimensional artwork is inspired by nature, flora, architecture and geometry. JUDiTH+ROLFE artwork has been exhibited in galleries, and can be found in private collections worldwide. The studio is currently based in Virginia. | @judithandrolfe

portrait of kimberly lavonne luther

Kimberly LaVonne Luther is a ceramic artist whose works have been on exhibit both nationally and internationally. Some of these venues include Oliva Gallery (Chicago), the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts (Texas), Kiosk Gallery (Kansas City, Missouri), Stamp Gallery (University of Maryland), and the Kápolna Galéria (Kecskemét, Hungary). She has completed two artist residencies at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemét, Hungary, as well as a residency with the Charlotte Street Studio Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. In 2016 she presented her work and research at the "Death, Art and Anatomy" conference at the University of Winchester, UK. Ceramics Monthly awarded her as one of the Emerging Artists of 2020, which was included in their May publication.
LaVonne received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics and Painting from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg in 2011. After completing a post-baccalaureate at Indiana University - Bloomington, she entered into the Master’s program, receiving her Masters of Fine Arts in Ceramics from IU in 2015. She currently lives and works in Detroit, Michigan.

portrait of whitney manney

​​A Kansas City, Missouri native, Whitney Manney graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2012 with a BFA in Fibers. With a desire to create art in a wearable format, Manney creates garments and textile designs under her independent label WHITNEYMANNEY. Creating a narrative between color and pattern is a signature of Manney's work. She says, "My job isn't done until everybody in the world believes fashion is art.” | @whitneymanney

portrait of shavon morris

Since childhood, Shavon Morris has been interested in using art to communicate, earning 2nd place in Reading Rainbow’s 1997 Young Writers and Illustrators Awards Contest. Inspired by human behavior and exploring cultural meanings, Shavon creates socially interactive art for the purpose of community engagement. She seeks to disrupt systemic ideals through the use of artistic craft, public art, and activism.
In January of 2021, Morris completed an Artist Residency with The Printing Museum Houston; she then exhibited in Craft as a Tool for Activism with the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design. Additionally, Shavon was recently named a 2021 Suzanne Deal Booth Fellow. The fellowship is a joint program with the University of Houston and Project Row Houses that brings together artists, educators, and policymakers to engage in creative collaborations in Houston’s Historic Third Ward Community.

portrait of jacob olmedo

Jacob Olmedo (he/they) is a multidisciplinary artist that works with textiles and sculpture forms that blend craft work, both traditional and contemporary, exploring deeply personal statements about being human. Often drawn to materials and techniques that transform and allow for intentional transparency, they ask for the meaning of the work to be about relationships it has with what is not always easily visible but underneath: body, skin, land, and soul. Olmedo earned his MFA and BFA from the Parsons School of Design as well as studied textile making in Mirzapur, India, and Paris. Olmedo has exhibited in venues such as Mana Contemporary, Columbia University, NYC Design Week, San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, and the Pratt Manhattan Gallery. They won the prestigious International Talking Textiles Waxman Prize in 2020, became the first CFDA Liz Claiborne Graduate Scholar in 2018, and have been recognized by press such as Vogue Italia, PBS, and L’Officiel Mexico. | @jacob_olmedo

portrait of ugo onyewuchi

Ugo Onyewuchi is a Nigerian-born sculptor and designer. His work has been exhibited internationally, and he has led workshops on the interdisciplinary nature of traditional Igbo art practices at Yale Center for British Art. He founded Nze-Ugo Educational & Healthcare Foundation in 2017 in response to the challenges facing rural communities in south-eastern Nigeria. Onyewuchi received the 2020 Beacon of Light and Knowledge National Merit Award from the Church of Nigeria for the foundation’s work in establishing health, traditional arts, and STEAM programs in underprivileged schools in Imo State, Nigeria.
A Moser-Burton Fellow and doctoral candidate in the Art and Art Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University, his research focuses on traditional Igbo craft, project-based learning, ways of thinking, and craft-based methods of inquiry. | @ugo_x_charles

portrait of loriene pearson

Loriene Pearson is a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and is a self-taught artist with a focus on embroidering Native designs. Initially, her photographs inspired her to translate Winnebago women’s appliqué to embroidery. She finds inspiration from her family, from her tribe, and from the land. She designs her own patterns with an intentional focus on reciprocity, and she embroiders each piece by hand. In July, 2021, Loriene was awarded Best of Division-Emerging Artist for her Sky Woman work at Native POP (People of the Plains) in Rapid City, South Dakota. In 2020, her work MMIW: Break the Chain was also seen in Minneapolis’ All My Relations Gallery.

portrait of charity ridpath

Charity Ridpath grew up above a landfill. Years of trash and illegally dumped chemicals gradually surfaced through erosion until the spaces she played in shut down. With this experience as a guide, she wonders how future generations will be impacted by her waste. She works with single-use plastic and the wearability of jewelry to create work inspired by various imagined futures and presently endangered ecosystems. In 2019, she earned a BFA in Studio Practice from Texas State University. | @deartoday

portrait of samira saheli

Samira Saheli is an artist living and working in San Diego. Her work focuses on symbolism and its deep-rooted importance in our everyday lives. In the form of an amulet or talisman, her symbolic works exercise influence on feeling and emotion for the purpose of healing and understanding the environment around her. | @samirasaheli_

portrait of kento saisho

Kento Saisho is an artist and metalworker currently based in Los Angeles. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2016, where he was a Windgate Fellowship recipient from the Center for Craft and a Core Fellow at the Penland School of Craft from 2018 to 2020. Through an intuitive process between patchwork and collage, Kento makes sculptural objects, vessels, and contemporary artifacts in forged and fabricated steel. | @saishok

portrait of amy sanders de melo

Amy Sanders de Melo is a Colombian-American ceramic artist with both visual and hearing impairments. Life experience and disability are major influences, and much of her work features hand-textured Braille messages regarding human experiences of grief and healing. Amy currently resides and works in Oklahoma. After receiving her BFA, Amy completed an artist residency in Italy and later worked as an arts educator for underserved youth. Now a member of Red Heat Ceramics, Amy has exhibited her work regionally and is the recipient of awards such as the NALAC Actos de Confianza grant and the OVAC Thrive grant. | @amysandersdemelo

Help Us Continue Supporting Up-And-Coming Artists

ACC is thrilled to be providing direct support and career mentorship to artists on their path to professional practice through the Emerging Artists Cohort. As a national nonprofit, we rely on the contributions of our members and donors to provide impactful programs like this one. Please join or donate to help ensure the Emerging Artists Cohort can continue in the years to come.

Support Our Work

Program Facilitators

Portrait of Lindsay Noble

Lindsay Noble was formerly ACC’s director of programs, overseeing and developing program initiatives that incentivize and recognize artists and regional communities. With more than 15 years of experience working in the arts, Lindsay's love of the arts and its communities has led her to build authentic and long-lasting relationships with program partners and community members. She received a BFA in printmaking and a minor in art history from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and remains an active and engaged figure in the Minneapolis and St. Paul arts communities.

Portrait of Gwynne Rukenbrod Smith

Gwynne Rukenbrod Smith is ACC’s director of community and creative work and specializes in craft entrepreneurship and creative economies. She has worked with both rural and urban communities, teaching her professional development and creative entrepreneurship workshops across the country over the last 20 years. Gwynne believes in helping artists and small business owners expand their markets and create sustainable businesses, and in the power of a strong craft ecology. Portrait by Nicole McConville Photography.

Thank You to Our Cohort Application Jurors

Portrait of Rebekah Frank

Rebekah Frank received her Master of Fine Arts in Jewelry/Metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2012 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jewelry/Metalsmithing from Texas State University in 2010. Her chosen material is steel, a fascination discovered through a challenge received when she was 18. Her creative practice has focused on that material ever since, working as a blacksmith, a welder, a machinist, and, currently, a jeweler. She worked with Art Jewelry Forum, an international nonprofit dedicated to the appreciation of art jewelry, from 2012 to 2018, leading the organization as the executive director from 2015 to 2018. Rebekah’s studio practice is based in the Mission District of San Francisco, California, and she exhibits, lectures, and teaches workshops nationally and internationally. Her work can be found in the permanent collection of the Cranbrook Art Museum and CODA Appeldoorn as well as the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation, the Rotasa Foundation, and many private collections worldwide. Portrait by Lydia Daniller. | @rebekahgailfrank

Portrait of Courtney M Leonard

Courtney M. Leonard is a Shinnecock artist and filmmaker whose work explores marine biology, Indigenous food sovereignty, migration, and human environmental impact. Leonard’s current projects articulate the multiple definitions of the term breach and investigate and document Indigenous communities’ historical ties to water, marine life, and native cultures of subsistence.
In collaboration with national and international museums, embassies, cultural institutions, and local Indigenous communities in North America, New Zealand, and Nova Scotia, Leonard’s practice centers narratives of cultural viability and the relationship between Indigenous people and the environmental record.
Leonard’s work is in the permanent collections of the United States Art in Embassies, the Crocker Art Museum, the Heard Museum, the ASU Art Museum and Ceramic Research Center, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Newark Museum, the Weisman Art Museum, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of the North, the Mystic Seaport Museum, the Pomona Museum of Art, the Hood Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Autry Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. | @courtneymleonardart

Portrait of Corey Pemberton

Corey Pemberton was born in Reston, Virginia, and received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012. He has completed residencies at The Pittsburgh Glass Center (Pennsylvania), Bruket (Bodø, Norway), as well as a Core Fellowship at the Penland School of Crafts (North Carolina). He currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where he splits his time between Crafting the Future, production glass blowing, and his painting practice. Pemberton strives to bring together people of all backgrounds and identities, breaking down stereotypes and building bridges—not only through his work with Crafting The Future but with his personal artistic practice as well. | @instantglassic

Special Thanks To Our Program Sponsors

The Emerging Artists Cohort is possible thanks to generous support from Fleur S. Bresler, the Windgate Charitable Foundation, and the Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts.

Windgate foundation logo

HEADER GRAPHIC: Artist and designer Yvonne Mouser in her Oakland studio (top left). Photo by Mark Tuschman.