VisArts Invites Applications and Proposals for 2024 Art + Social Justice Fellowship

By East City Art Editorial Team on October 23, 2023

Deadline: Mon, November 27 2023

Krystal C. Mack, VisArts’ 2023 Art + Social Justice Fellow (Courtesy of the Artist)

VisArts invites applications and proposals from visual activists whose current research, curatorial or visual activist practice, and passion centers on social, racial, economic, and/or environmental justice for the 2024 Art + Social Justice Fellowship. There is a desperate need for active re-imaginings of the future and immediate engagement with the invisibilities of the present. The economic, political, and social inequities rooted in our systems have been exposed. What can we do as artists, curators, and arts organizations to address these challenges and offer expressions of hope, solidarity, and mutual aid? How do we focus our efforts and work together for a sustainable anti-racist future that enlists creativity as an essential civic tool while staying safe and healthy? What can we do now and over the long haul within and between communities to make change?

This year-long fellowship is an opportunity to explore how thoughtfully curated art, dialogue, communication, and collaborations between artists and communities can productively navigate political flashpoints, chronic systemic inequities, and entrenched perspectives to inspire change towards a more equitable, just, and inclusive society.

VisArts is committed to a sustained exploration of the potential of art to transform individuals and communities and to engage radical imaginations. Since our founding in 1987, we have provided safe and equitable spaces for artists and audiences designed to cultivate trust, empathy, creativity, and diversity. The Art and Social Justice Fellowship is designed to facilitate and amplify this essential work. VisArts seeks a highly motivated, visionary person and/or collaborative team to explore these ideas with us! Applicants do not need to be traditional curators or artists. We are interested in creative activist cultural producers who explore the use of art, creative practice, and curation to catalyze and evoke change.

Fellowship Resources

  • Free private studio access along with a $6,000 stipend (paid over 12 months). The studio is equipped with a sink, Wi-Fi connection and abundant natural light. Studio access is 24/7 except during special VisArts events (advance notice will be given).
  • The fellowship culminates in an exhibition/presentation/site activation in the Common Ground Gallery.
  • Opportunities for public programming/workshops/teaching/engagement.
  • Engagement with community partners, activists, and the public.
  • Opportunities for writing and research.
  • Support for development of virtual/online and face to face experiences for a wide array of audiences ages and cultural orientations.

The Art + Social Justice Fellowship currently cannot provide housing.

Fellow Responsibilities

  • Utilize/activate the studio at VisArts for a minimum of 8 hours/week.
  • Fellows are expected to participate in the VisArts Studio Artist Program that meets monthly to share ideas, community, and professional development.
  • Welcome the public during exhibition opening receptions or at scheduled Open Studio events.
  • Attend artist talks and gallery opening receptions.
  • Present a public discussion, workshop, screening, and/or other mutually agreed upon public event that engages the VisArts and greater Rockville communities and resources.
  • Explore creative activist/curatorial practice as a productive resource to address diverse communities’ immediate needs.
  • Present an exhibition/gallery activation in the Common Ground Gallery.

Studio Terms

  • Qualified applicants are visual activists, curators, artists or collaborative teams over the age of 18; the program is not designed for undergraduate students or commercial artists.
  • Applicants working in all media are welcome to apply, but VisArts cannot support the use of hazardous materials that require specific ventilation requirements.
  • The Art & Social Justice Fellow will be provided with a 169 square foot studio, free of charge, for a period of twelve months. Studio access is 24/7 except during special VisArts events (advance notice will be given).
  • The Fellow is responsible for maintaining the studio in a safe and reasonably tidy manner, and will not make alterations to the space without permission. The fellow must leave the studio in the state in which it was found and remove all belongings at the end of the fellowship.
  • The Fellow is responsible for acquisition, insurance, and care of his/her materials and equipment. A fellow who wishes to have kilns and other equipment that create additional electrical use must obtain permission for each piece of equipment that they wish to use in their studios.

Application Requirements

  • Motivation, ideas, and radical imagination: 300 words (required). Describe your motivations, intentions, and potential as an Art and Social Justice Fellow at VisArts. You do not have to present a specific proposal, but rather tell us why you are a strong candidate for this opportunity at this time. How do you propose to connect and collaborate with artists and communities, amplify hidden voices, and inspire change? Why do you believe that an Arts and Social Justice creative activist/curator is an essential part of any arts organization?
  • Evidence of your commitment and work at the intersection of art and social justice: 300 words (required). How have you brought artists/communities/and social justice issues together? As a writer/communicator? As a curator? As an activist/organizer? As an artist? Educator? Other?
  • Do you have equity and justice training and if so, where did you receive it?
  • Creative activist/curatorial projects or related experiences: PDF (optional).
  • Websites that feature your work or projects: Two URL links (optional).
  • Social media: hashtags and/or handles (optional).
  • Contact info for two references (required).
  • Resume/CV (optional).
  • Brief bio: 100 words (required).

They strongly encourage Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to apply. The Art and Social Justice Fellow is encouraged to initiate community outreach with the VisArts and greater Rockville communities including nearby Montgomery College.

Rockville is a progressive, diverse city in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. VisArts is located in the center of Rockville, Maryland on Gibbs Street which is named in honor of William B. Gibbs, Jr. whose advocacy of equal pay for African American teachers in Montgomery County led to a precedent setting case with Thurgood Marshall as one of the lead attorneys. Artists and curators are encouraged to engage with local resources including: Gibbs Street and history of William B. Gibbs, Jr., Rockville African-American history and heritage, the City of Rockville, Beall-Dawson House and Museum, Montgomery College Visual and Performing Arts Departments, Montgomery College and local schools, Montgomery County Public Library, Potomac River/Rock Creek watershed, Rock Creek National Park, historic sites, organizations and groups in the DMV, support for virtual/on line experiences for a wide array of audiences ages and cultural orientations within Rockville’s diverse community.

The city of Rockville ranks nationally and state-wide as a leader in environmental sustainability and green power use. It is recognized for its high quality of life, excellent schools, numerous public parks, and well-educated, and culturally diverse population. Rockville offers easy access to public transit to Washington, D.C. via the Red Line Metro, an excellent bus system, bike trails, and parking.

About VisArts

VisArts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Our mission is to transform individuals and communities through the visual arts.

A hub for artistic exploration and social impact since 1987, VisArts brings people together through shared creative experiences, including:

  • Award-winning art classes, camps, and parties for children and adults
  • Critically acclaimed contemporary art exhibitions, programs + events
  • Studio Artist and Emerging Curator programs
  • VisAbility Art Lab and Accessible Arts Classes for artists with disabilities
  • Community art workshops
  • Art + Wellness programs
  • Volunteer and internship opportunities
  • The Rockville Arts Festival

These inspire new ideas, encourage self-expression, embrace diverse perspectives, and celebrate the visual arts as fundamental to a connected community.