United States Artists (USA) is pleased to announce its 2020 USA Fellows. This year, fifty artists across ten creative disciplines will receive unrestricted $50,000 cash awards. The award honors their creative accomplishments and supports their ongoing artistic and professional development.
The 2020 USA Fellows class is the largest since USA relocated from Los Angeles to Chicago in 2011. USA Fellowships are awarded to artists at all stages of their careers and from all areas of the country through a rigorous nomination and panel selection process.
“We believe strongly that the arts are critically important to the well-being of our communities and at the heart of the arts is the individual artist,” said United States Artists Board Chair Ed Henry. “We are proud to offer this unrestricted award to encourage artists to explore the possibilities of their practices and support their livelihoods.”
Fellowships are given in the following disciplines: Architecture & Design, Craft, Dance, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, and Writing.
The film fellows
Sophia Nahli Allison’s A Love Song for Latasha, an official selection in 2020 Sundance, examines the short, tragic life of Latasha Harlins, whose murder was a leading cause of the 1992 L.A. Riots. Bing Liu’s 2018 Minding the Gap is an unprecedented look at male friendship, seen through the lens of skateboarding. Unflinching and pastoral, RaMell Ross’s 2018 Hale County This Morning, This Evening heralds a new chapter in the cinema of the South. Taken together, these three young filmmakers represent the future of American filmmaking—honest, unmediated, diverse.
SOPHIA NAHLI ALLISON LOS ANGELES · DURHAM
Sophia Nahli Allison is an experimental documentary filmmaker, photographer, and dreamer from Los Angeles.
Allison disrupts conventional documentary methods by reimagining the archives and excavating hidden truths. She conjures ancestral memories to explore the intersection of fiction and non-fiction storytelling. She has held residencies and fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, as a 3Arts Fellow at The Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY, and POV Spark’s African Interactive Art Residency. She has received film grants from Glassbreaker Films and the Sundance Institute New Frontier Lab Programs.
Her short film A Love Song For Latasha received a 2019 IDA nomination for Best Short and the Jury Award for Best Documentary Short at the 2019 AFI Fest, The New Orleans Film Festival, BlackStar Film Festival and more including a world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and a 2020 screening at the Sundance Film Festival.
Past projects have been featured in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, with Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA, and more. She was named the 2017 Student Video Photographer of the year by The White House News Photographers Association and is a 2014 recipient of a Chicago 3Arts Award, a $25,000 grant for her work as a teaching artist.
In 2018 she was a co-facilitator for the track Magic As Resistance at the Allied Media Conference. Allison received her master’s degree from UNC and is currently living and working between her hometown of Los Angeles and Durham, NC.
SOPHIA NAHLI ALLISON
A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA TRAILER
BING LIU CHICAGO
Bing is a Chicago-based director and cinematographer who Variety Magazine listed as one of 10 documentary filmmakers to watch.
His 2018 critically acclaimed documentary Minding the Gap has earned a total of 28 award recognitions since its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where it took home the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking.
Bing is also a segment director on America To Me, a 10-hour documentary series examining racial inequities in America’s education system, set to premiere on Starz. He was a member of the International Cinematographers Guild for seven years, working alongside master directors of photography including John Toll, Matthew Libatique, and Wally Pfister. Bing is a 2017 Film Independent Fellow and Garrett Scott Development Grant recipient and has a B.A. in Literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
MINDING THE GAP TRAILER
RAMELL ROSS PROVIDENCE · GREENSBORO, AL
RaMell Ross is a visual artist, filmmaker and writer based in RI and Al.
Ross’ work has appeared in places like the NY Times, Aperture, Harper’s Magazine, TIME, Oxford American, and the Walker Arts Center.
He has been awarded an Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer’s Fellowship and a Rhode Island Foundation MacColl Johnson artist fellowship. He recently had a solo exhibition at Aperture Gallery in NY.
His feature documentary, Hale County This Morning, This Evening won a Special Jury Award for Creative Vision at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for an Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards and has screened at the Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, Hammer Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art – London, Museum of Moving Image, and Lincoln Center. RaMell double majored in English and Sociology at Georgetown University and teaches in Brown University’s Visual Art Department.
Images from South County, AL (a Hale County) and new work will be displayed in a solo exhibition at the Ogden Museum in late 2020.
HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING TRAILER
A critically important time
“We are so honored to celebrate the artists who are making vital contributions to the country’s creative ecosystem,” said United States Artists President & CEO Deana Haggag. “It is a critically important time to support the livelihoods of artists and we are ecstatic to be able to honor 50 of them this year. The 2020 class is the largest cohort of Fellows we have awarded since we relocated to Chicago, and each and every one of them stands out as a visionary influence in their respective field.”
Past awardees include trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard (2018), cartoonist Lynda Barry (2019), public artist Rick Lowe (2009), printmaker Amos Paul Kennedy (2015), podcaster Starlee Kine (2018), multidisciplinary artist Simone Leigh (2019), composer and pianist Jason Moran (2007), performance artist William Pope L. (2006), dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer (2016), documentary filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar (2019), and actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith (2009).
Essential role in society
The USA Fellowship is the organization’s flagship program and is central to its mission of believing in artists and their essential role in our society. As the organization deepens and diversifies its cultural impact through new awards programs, offering awardees financial planning support, and providing consulting services to like-minded cultural organizations, the USA Fellowship will take on greater scope and import—underscoring the necessity of supporting artists.
Since 2006, the USA Fellowship has provided direct support to artists across the country. With this unrestricted award, Fellows decide for themselves how to best use the money—whether it is creating new work, paying rent, reducing debt, getting healthcare, or supporting their families. To make its work possible, USA actively fundraises each year and is supported by a broad range of philanthropic foundations, companies, and individuals committed to cultivating contemporary culture in the United States.
2020 USA Fellows
ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN
MOS – New York, NY
Slow and Steady Wins the Race by Mary Ping – New York, NY
Sara Zewde – Harlem, NY
Jennifer Ling Datchuk – San Antonio, TX
Del Harrow – Fort Collins, CO
Wendy Maruyama – Sand Diego, CA
Aaron McIntosh – Kingsport, TN
Linda Sikora – Alfred Station, NY
Lisa Nelson – East Charleston, VT
Dianne McIntyre – Cleveland, OH and New York, NY
Will Rawls – Brooklyn, NY
Elizabeth Streb – New York, BY
Abby Zbikowski – Urbana, IL
Sophia Nahli Allison – Los Angeles, CA and Durham, NC
Bing Liu – Chicago, IL
RaMell Ross – Providence, RI and Greensboro, AL
Yasmin Elayat – Brooklyn, NY
Surya Mattu – Brooklyn, NY
Guadalupe Rosales – Los Angeles, CA
Anthony Braxton – Hamden, CT
Courtney Bryan – New Orleans, LA
Sylvie Courvoisier – Brooklyn, LA
Nathalie Joachim – Chicago, IL
Nicole Mitchell – Pittsburgh, PA
Pamela Z – San Francisco, CA
THEATER & PERFORMANCE
Christina Anderson – Providence, RI
Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas – New York, NY
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins – Brooklyn, NY
Hamid Rahmanian – Brooklyn, NY
Clint Ramos – New York, NY
Laurie Woolery – New York, NY
Tatsu Aoki – Chicago, IL
Delores Churchill – Ketchikan, AK
Dom Flemons, The American Songster – Silver Spring, MD
Lani Strong Hotch – Klukwan, AK
Kevin Locke – Wakpala, SD
Patty Chang – Altadena, CA
Melvin Edwards – New York, NY
Matthew Angelo Harrison – Detroit, MI
Howardena Pindell – New York, NY
Cameron Rowland – Queens, NY
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith – Corrales, NM
Martine Syms – Los Angeles, CA
Nari Ward – New York, NY
Hanif Abdurraqib – Columbus, OH
Sarah Broom – New York, NY
Jericho Brown Atlanta, GA
Edwidge Danticat – Miami, FL
Sharon Olds – New York, NY
Crystal Wilkinson – Lexington, KY
The 2020 USA Fellowship Awards were made possible by:
Anonymous, Sarah Arison, the Barr Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Ann M. Hatch, David Horvitz and Francie Bishop Good, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Steven H. and Nancy K. Oliver, the Pillars Fund, The Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Fred and Eve Simon Charitable Foundation, The Todd and Betiana Simon Foundation, Paul and Annette Smith, the Walder Foundation, Katie Weitz, PhD, the Windgate Charitable Foundation, Helen Zell, and the USA Board of Trustees.
About United States Artists
United States Artists is a national arts funding organization based in Chicago, IL. We raise money and redistribute it in the form of unrestricted awards to the country’s most compelling artists and cultural practitioners. Since our founding in 2006, we have awarded more than 600 individuals with over $27 million of direct support.