#281: Kresge Artist Fellowship

Snowy sun-peaked Annapurna II
Annapurna II, Gandaki, Nepal

The above photo I took in September of 2016, while trekking on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. A blown-up print of it hangs in my living room, in part so I see a mountain every day, but primarily to remind me of when I realized that Detroit was home.

Funny how it takes going to the other side of the Earth to realize a place is home, but that’s how it works, right? You need to be far enough from something to see it for what it is, or at least see a different view of it, to hold that other view simultaneously, stereoscopically, with the familiar one.

I was thinking a lot about the trek this past Thursday – I was named one of eighteen Kresge Artist Fellows for 2019. The fellowship is a sort of rite of passage for creative folk in Detroit. You have to have been a resident for at least two years even to apply, and in my five since moving back I’ve met and done events with several prior Fellows, including Middle Grade author Jean Alicia Elster. To me, this award affirms: I am a part of the city, and the city is a part of me.

Up front, the fellowship comes with a $25,000, no-strings-attached grant. Artists can use it to fund a specific project or simply pay their rent, or whatever! Then there’s a year of professional development, beginning with a weekend retreat in July. I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to entail (both the weekend and the yearlong program), and that’s part of the excitement. I imagine it’ll be a more-structured way of deepening, with my fellowship cohort, our respective creative practices.

I met the other fellows at an orientation before the announcement. Among the group are poets, journalists, photographers, painters … even a zine maker! I’m stoked to get to know everyone and their work, and will be, naturally, reporting back in these Sunday letters.

2019 Kresge Artist Fellows
Photo credit: Noah Stephens