Hamiltonian Artists Announces New Fellows and Fellowship Manager for 2022-2024

By Editorial Team on October 11, 2022
L to R: Misha Ilin, Madhya J. Leghari, Edgar Reyes, Abed Elmajid Shalabi, and Isabella Whitfield


Hamiltonian Artists is excited to announce the new cohort of Hamiltonian Fellows for 2022–2024: Misha Ilin, Madyha J. Leghari, Edgar Reyes, Abed Elmajid Shalabi, and Isabella Whitfield. Each artist will receive a $2,000 annual honorarium, individualized mentorship, access to an expansive network of alumni and professional contacts, participation in group exhibitions, and a final solo exhibition at Hamiltonian Artists in 2024. The first exhibition of new fellows’ work will be in new.now., on view at Hamiltonian Artists February 4–March 11, 2023.

The cohort was selected for their artistic excellence, growth potential, and alignment with Hamiltonian Artists’ value of community, by a panel of independent jurors: Thomas F. James, executive director of the Last Resort Artist Retreat, Baltimore; Joyce Yu-Jean Lee, Hamiltonian Alum, artist, and art and digital media professor at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY; Ada Pinkston, artist, educator, and cultural organizer; and Siobhan Rigg, artist, and studio arts teacher and program head of design at the Corcoran School of Art and Design at George Washington University. The jurors will continue to work with the fellows through Hamiltonian Artists’ formal mentorship program. For full juror bios, please visit www.hamiltonianartists.org/apply.

Additionally, Hamiltonian Artists has named a new Fellowship Manager, Anisa Olufemi, an insightful curator, writer, and public programming coordinator dedicated to elevating underrepresented emerging artists—within and without arts institutions. Thus far, their emergent curatorial practice has been rooted in an aim to interrogate, amend, and reimagine Black life pre- and post-emancipation. Prior to joining Hamiltonian, Olufemi worked primarily as an independent curator and cultural worker, mounting exhibitions in galleries and DIY spaces located in Washington, DC, and Chicago. A devoted advocate for under-siege communities and arts education accessibility, Olufemi is also the cofounder of the creative workshop series Passion to Profession. They hold a Bachelor of the Arts from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, with a focus in art history, arts administration, and writing.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to support emerging artists in my hometown, through an organization that demonstrates its genuine long-term commitment to serving DC’s emerging artists, with criticality and care,” Olufemi states. “Hamiltonian Artists is cultivating artistic excellence and creative community through direct, impact-driven engagement—these are the values that have defined my work thus far. I feel energized by Hamiltonian’s role in building a more sustainable artist ecosystem here in the District, and I look forward to leading the expansive, ever-changing fellowship program, with my proclivity for breaking molds and imagining new blueprints.”

“I am beyond thrilled to be welcoming Anisa and these five new fellows to Hamiltonian,” says Lily Siegel, Executive Director. “Anisa’s values, vision, and energy, paired with the fellows’ artistic excellence and commitment to community, will continue to nourish the vitality of DC’s creative networks.”

The returning, 2021–2023 fellows are Kyrae Dawaun, Cecilia Kim, Ara Koh, Samera Paz, and Matthew Russo.

Hamiltonian Artist Fellows work to develop a single major project over the two-year program with guidance provided by mentors, Hamiltonian staff, peers, and other professional guests. Hamiltonian Artists provides expertise and resources to frame development from project idea to exhibition. Together, we help define the future of the field while providing the skills, knowledge, and resources to ensure the sustainability of independent artists as art professionals in their communities.

About the fellows

Misha Ilin (b. 1985; Protvino, Russia) earned a Master’s in Mathematics and Informatics from the National University of Science and Technology, Moscow, Russia. In 2016 he moved to the United States and received his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Ilin’s recent exhibitions include wish the past never to repeat itself, the kitchen, Berlin, Germany; inquisitive instructions, Modern Art Museum, Shanghai, China; Artist-As-Organizer, Washington Project for Arts, Washington, DC; hospitality, Baltimore, MD; and order of things, Homme Gallery, DC.

Madyha J. Leghari (b. 1991) is a visual artist, writer, and educator working between Lahore and Washington, DC. She earned a BFA at the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan, in 2013, and an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2018 on a Fulbright Scholarship. Her practice explores the possibilities and limitations of language and explores themes of translation, cultural friction, and semantic lacunae. She has been the recipient of the Mansion Artist Residency; Delta Research Placement at the Flat Time House; Siena Art Institute Artist Residency and the Murree Museum residency. She has exhibited her works internationally, such as at the Pera Museum, University of Colorado Boulder, Bennington College, Sea Foundation, The Institute for Experimental Arts, Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Nottingham Arts Mela, 17th Athens Digital Arts Festival, Antimatter, and others across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. She has written on art for a number of publications, including ArtNow Pakistan and the Dawn Newspaper. She has teaching experience at the National College of Arts, Lahore, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston and the Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan.

Edgar Reyes (b. Guadalajara, Mexico) is a multimedia artist and educator based in the Washington, DC, area. His work invites viewers to think about the people, places, and connections they carry with them, and his practice draws on the specifics of his own life and reflects on shared experiences of resettlement and migration. Through his art making, he explores his family’s Mexican, Latinx, and Indigenous roots. Reyes earned his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and has taught at nonprofit organizations, schools, universities, and museums. His work has been prominently featured in large scale public installations, including Sueños, a monumental light box with banners, displayed during Baltimore’s Light City Festival (2017), and Xochitl, vivid, abstract patterns installed in shop windows in Rockville, MD, as part of the VisArts’ Make It Visible project (2021). His work has been featured in galleries and public spaces across the United States. He has developed installations for the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD, where his work was exhibited in dialogue with the permanent collection and encouraged community participation. Recent honors include the Rubys Artist Grant (2021), Keyholder Resident Artist at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (2021), Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize semifinalist (2021), and Bresler Resident Artist at VisArts (2021).

Abed Elmajid Shalabi (b. 1991) is a Palestinian Israeli artist, living and working in Richmond, Virginia. Shalabi joined the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture in 2022, and he earned an MFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University (2021) and a BFA in Fine Arts from the Berlin University of Arts, and the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, Tel Aviv, Israel (2019). Shalabi was awarded the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Graduate Fellowship (2020–2021) and the

Paul F. Miller Graduate Scholarship in Sculpture (2020). He was awarded grants from Artis, United States Artist, and the Robert Weil Family Foundation. Shalabi’s work has been exhibited in Tel Aviv, Berlin, and Richmond, VA.

Isabella Whitfield (b. 1998; Centreville, VA) is a multidisciplinary artist who works in collaboration with natural and manufactured environments. After earning her BA is Studio Art and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia (UVA) in 2020, she completed a year-long postgraduate program as an Aunspaugh Fellow in UVA’s Department of Art. Whitfield has exhibited major works at New City Arts, Ruffin Gallery, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum, and InLight 2021 with 1708 Gallery. She has participated in residencies with the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, Ox-Bow School of Art, and Pyramid Atlantic Art Center.

About Hamiltonian Artists
Hamiltonian Artists’ mission is to build a dynamic community of innovative artists and effective visual art leaders by providing professional development opportunities to innovative new artists and by advancing their entrepreneurial success. Through its unique investment into the next generation of cutting-edge artists, Hamiltonian helps artists to develop important business skills, professional experiences, and visibility to support and sustain their art career. Through artist talks, public events and its membership program, the organization contributes to the vitality of DC’s burgeoning arts scene by deepening the appreciation for contemporary art and culture throughout Washington, DC, and beyond.