May 9, 2023
2023 Define American Fellowship Recipients Announced
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
The Define American Fellowship is one of the few U.S. artistic fellowship opportunities that welcomes any immigrant applicant regardless of citizenship or immigration status, including undocumented creatives.
LOS ANGELES, CA — Define American is continuing its commitment to supporting talented immigrant artists working in narrative art forms with its fifth annual fellowship cohort, announced today. Recognizing the unique hurdles immigrant artists in these fields face, the five fellowship recipients—selected from more than 250 talented applicants—will each receive a $5,000 stipend and will be connected with additional resources to help develop their careers and expand their audiences.
“Storytellers inform our perspectives and have the power to create meaningful change through art; more than ever, we need storytellers from immigrant backgrounds to do just that,” said Define American Founder and President Jose Antonio Vargas. “We’re proud to center the voices and stories of directly impacted artists and be part of the solution to make the arts ecosystem more inclusive.”
Importantly, the Define American Fellowship is one of the few U.S. artistic fellowship opportunities that welcomes any immigrant applicant regardless of citizenship or immigration status, including undocumented creatives. This year’s cohort includes artists and storytellers in writing, filmmaking, visual storytelling, and spoken word performance, all from immigrant backgrounds.
The 2023 Define American Fellowship recipients are:
- Phoenix, AZ — Safwat Saleem (multidisciplinary artist)
- Brooklyn, NY — Fatima Bhojani (nonfiction essayist and fiction writer)
- Washington, D.C. — PAGES Matam (poet and filmmaker)
- Lincoln, NE — Nour Al Ghraowi (poet and nonfiction writer)
- Los Angeles, CA — Vinnoth Krishnan (filmmaker)
The fellowship is designed to create a space for immigrant artists and storytellers, many of whom are undocumented and underrepresented in the arts world. At the center of the Define American Fellowship is the importance of owning one’s story, finding support for creative practice, and understanding the intricacies and intersections of art and lived experience.
Over the next six months, fellows will participate in workshops and conversations around defining and broadening their audiences, demystifying career paths and opportunities, and methods for building support for a creative practice both within their individual communities as well as in the larger national arts community. They will receive dedicated mentorship, introductions to experienced artists and storytellers in their field, and an opportunity to apply for additional project-based funding.
Culture change in the worlds of the arts, entertainment, and journalism require compelling storytellers. The announcement of the 2023 fellows comes just weeks after Define American released Creativity is Boundless: An Inclusive Guide, a new resource with practical recommendations for arts funders to make fellowships, grants, and residency programs more accessible to all, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.
“As a Define American fellow who had the pleasure of reviewing applications this year, I am reminded that our contribution to the world is indisputably necessary if we are to unearth what it truly means to be free and a global human ‘citizen,” said féi hernandez, an alumnus of the 2021 fellowship cohort.
The 2023 Define American Fellowship is made possible through a grant from the Kresge Foundation. The cohort runs from May 1, 2023, through November 30, 2023, with applications for the next year’s fellowship expected to open in January 2024.