United States Artists announces 2021 USA Fellowships

United States Artists announces 2021 USA Fellowships
Three of the 60 2021 USA Fellows named by United States Artists. Left to right: Aki Sasamoto (Photo: Takehiro Iikawa), Lex Brown (Photo: Nicholas Calcott), rafa esparza (Photo courtesy of the artist)
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United States Artists (USA) Fellowships are among the most prestigious art awards in the US that for 15 years have honoured and supported artists across a number of disciplines. Every year, creatives are recognised for their accomplishments and awarded a $50,000 unrestricted prize to be used however the recipient sees fit.

On Wednesday, the 2021 cohort of USA Fellows were announced. Those selected for the fellowship hail from all corners of the US and represent 10 disciplines: Architecture & Design, Craft, Dance, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, and Writing. USA Fellows are each at different points in their career.

Unrestricted grants allow recipients the unique opportunity to use their awards in whatever way best suits their work, whether it be to fund an upcoming project, pay their rent, or support their families. Off the back of 2020, a year that proved strenuous for people all over the world, such direct support is more important than ever.

“We are grateful for every artist whose artmaking, music, writing, and more is helping us to navigate and cope through this harrowing time in our country,” United States Artists President and CEO Deana Haggag said in a press release. “The 2021 USA Fellows are a testament to the power of art in shaping the world around us and navigating its complexities. Artists do so much for our communities, and we are grateful to be able to support these sixty incredible practitioners and welcome them into the United States Artists fellowship.”

Support like that provided by United States Artists is critical to creatives as 2020 USA Writing Fellow Edwidge Danticat pointed out in the announcement of this year’s fellows. “Now more than ever,” said Danticat, “artists need this kind of support, not just for continuity, but for safety and survival.”


The 2021 USA Fellows are:
Architecture & Design

Jennifer Bonner / MALL
Walter Hood
Olalekan Jeyifous


Diedrick Brackens
Bisa Butler
Amber Cowan
Salvador Jiménez-Flores
Cannupa Hanska Luger
Tiff Massey
Erin M. Riley


Ishmael Houston-Jones
Emily Johnson
Cynthia Oliver
Ni’Ja Whitson


Faren Humes
Macha Colón
Stephen Maing
Darius Clark Monroe
Naima Ramos-Chapman
Jennifer Reeder


Morehshin Allahyari
Stephanie Dinkins
Lauren Lee McCarthy
Mother Cyborg


Martha Gonzalez
Edward “Kidd” Jordan
Tomeka Reid
Wadada Leo Smith
Mazz Swift

Theater & Performance

Jibz Cameron
Carmelita Tropicana
Christopher Chen
Sandra Delgado
Idris Goodwin
Mia Katigbak
Karen Zacarías

Traditional Arts

Ofelia Esparza
Nathan P. Jackson
Basil Kincaid
Kawika Lum-Nelmida
Carolyn L. Mazloomi
Geo Soctomah Neptune
Delina White

Visual Art

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Lex Brown
rafa esparza
Maria Gaspar
Sharon Hayes
Carolyn Lazard
Daniel Lind-Ramos
Aki Sasamoto


Alexander Chee
Eve L. Ewing
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Dunya Mikhail
Elizabeth McCracken
Natalie Y. Moore
Danez Smith
Ocean Vuong


United States Artists, a Chicago based organization, was founded in 2006 in response to significant cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts. The USA Fellows programme is at the forefront of the organisation’s outreach, which has honoured creatives like painter and visual artist Howardena Pindell (2020 USA Fellow), dancer and choreographer Alice Sheppard (2019), fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte (2009), and poet Claudia Rankine (2016). In response to the pandemic, United States Artists became a founding partner of Artist Relief, which oversaw the distribution of $20 million, directly supporting nearly 4,000 artists in need.