Welcome 2019 MA Artists! (Part 2)

And here’s the second installment of our 2019 Massachusetts statewide grantees. We’re in awe of the work they’re doing, and we’re excited to see what they can accomplish with a little grant & professional development support!


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Heather Kapplow (Allston) is a conceptual artist whose work involves text, installation, performance, text, direct audience engagement, as well as audio and video. Heather presents her work in public spaces in addition to gallery and festival settings, and finds most of her projects to be site- or context-specific. Heather’s current practice grew out of work she was doing as an experimental film/video maker. Here, she found interpretation in the presentation of cinematic objects as much a part of the works as the actual media's content.

Heather hopes to use A4A funds toward creating more documentation of her work. Being able to hire a videographer will allow Heather to professionally capture her performances in order to share them with a greater number of people.


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Nate Massari (North Adams) has always found his artistic hands in everything: paint, music, writing, design, sculpture and film. His work touches on existentialism, surrealism, politics, humor, art history, and personal experiences. While Nate sees himself as a diverse yet largely a traditional artist, he aims his future projects toward research and less object-oriented work.

Nate hopes to expand and professionalize his artistic materials. Doing so would grow the range of his work and improve its overall quality. Nate’s ultimate goal for the future is to build a foundation that provides him with more confidence, preparation, knowledge, and experience in art-making.


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Julia Matejcek’s (Williamstown) photographs address themes of family, domesticity, animals, eating, and the small, hidden acts of violence that pervade our daily lives. Julia is interested in photography as a medium that belies hidden meanings and is fascinated by its close representation of reality. She plays with this link to reality by creating photographs that show the subtext of real life in ways that people may not have considered. Her conceptual interests also span to theories about the unconscious mind and its relationship to our consciousness.

As an early-career artist, Julia knows what she wants to make but needs professional tools to help aid in her creations. Through acquiring wide-angle lenses and advanced editing software, Julia hopes to tighten the formal quality of her photographs and heighten her technique. Ultimately, she thinks material investments would make an outsized difference in her practice.


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Artist Cliff Notez (Boston) finds himself unpacking the intersecting complexities of mental health and lived experiences of people of color. Within these works he delves into hard-hitting subject matter, including racism, sexism, police brutality, oppression, trauma, resilience, and love as it relates to the Black body. When taking in his work, Cliff urges his audience to understand that it was created by a body and mind whose influences, thoughts, emotions and ideas are shaped by the experience of being a Black identified person in America.

The future of Cliff’s work will be focused on The Never Ending Sidewalk Tour (TNEST). TNEST is a combination of Hip-Hop, Jazz and Blues accompanied by a small ensemble of brass and string instruments. Music from his most recent album, WTSE, will be re-composed for performance and its narrative will be told with poetry, theatre, and original films displayed through projection mapping and lighting. Cliff hopes that experiencing this show will give his audience a better understanding of the impact trauma, oppression, and racial injustice have on people of color.


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Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz (Williamstown) makes work at the intersection of contemporary art, artisanship and contemplative practice. Her deepest influences come from the philosophy and aesthetics of pre-modern material cultures that associate patient, skilled handwork with inward-looking contemplative aspirations. Diverse in form, her recent projects utilize artisanal materials like gold, indigo, mineral pigments, silk and handmade traditional papers. Alyssa’s imagery references complex crafted objects that evoke ritual acts or become symbolic focal points for meditation.

Alyssa aims to pursue a new direction in her work; she hopes to establish a conceptual textile practice centered on handloom weaving with a large upright tapestry loom. Using natural fibers and hand techniques similar to those used by Navajo weavers, her intent is to make large-scale woolen textiles based on a body of drawings that she has been developing over the past 10 years.


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Maria Pinheiro (New Bedford) is an artist, performer, and community organizer. She creates performances, or guided fantasies, which consist of instructional prompts for audience members to enter “backwards” into daily situations, making possible the de-/re-construction of social architectures. Through these works, civilization’s harm-filled structures are shaken out and renewed with intimacy and comedic displays of enjoyment.

Maria is looking forward to building a sustainable business model, which will deepen her capacity to create immersive performances and intercultural dialogues.


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Hannah Hurricane Sanchez’s (Turners Falls) art practice arose from the transformations of becoming a mother, and her work has stayed true to its origin. Hannah’s primary conceptual concerns are centered on the woman and the woman as a home. Hannah’s work investigates how we create a feeling or sense of home: the rituals we develop, the people or beings we define as part of the home, the flexible boundaries that are assigned to our idea, location, and memory of home. Her use of mediums that have long traditions such as drawing, clay, books, printmaking, and painting further aid in her explorative concepts.

As an emerging artist, Hannah is eager to begin applying to shows, investing in materials, and engaging in promotional platforms. She is first concerned with strengthening her creative practice by increasing her financial security. Hannah feels securing a robust financial future and further training would allow her to start reaching her potential.


John Seven and Jana Christy (North Adams) are a married picture-book-creating team. They’re possibly best known for their “Wee Rebel” picture books, including such titles as “We Say No! A Child’s Guide to Resistance” and “Happy Punks 1 2 3.” Lately, Jana and John’s work has been moving away from traditional illustration into the use of three-dimensional figures, still photography, and stop-motion animation.

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In the future, John and Jan hope to broaden their audience with their 3D art, particularly animation. They see this opportunity as a way to create a new voice with their art. Acquiring software, hard drives, and marketing materials will allow the team to film their three-dimensional characters and sets to tell their stories in a new way.


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Photographer Jesika Theos (Amesbury) is working primarily in editorial photography and photojournalism. Jesika only recently made the transition to being a full-time photographer, and has been developing the editorial side of her business by doing photography for several publications, including Boston Magazine and the New York Times.

The next step for Jesika is to invest in more equipment, specifically for lighting. Owning her own lighting equipment will allow Jesika to work in a broader range of settings and have more consistency in her product.


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Amy Vander Els (Amesbury) creates jewelry by hand using small-scale metalsmithing techniques. Her intent is to craft jewelry that is elegant in its simplicity, and just the right amount of unusual. Every piece is hand-cut, shaped, forged, polished and assembled to ensure a high quality design. Amy crafts jewelry, creates artwork, and teaches workshops, all out of her very own mill studio.

Moving forward, Amy’s goals are focused in two areas: increasing the visibility of her online presence and fine-tuning her marketing materials and website in advance of approaching potential clients. Once these things are accomplishes, she feels confident in the direction she needs to go in order to grow and sustain her business.



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A jewelry artisan, Sennin Zumdick Esko (Egremont) specializes in making bezel set rings for faceted gemstones in gold, silver and platinum using lost wax casting and hand fabrication. Sennin finds himself leaning towards simplicity, allowing the natural beauty of the gemstones to speak for themselves. Sennin’s taste for clean lines and smooth surfaces means he examines each of his pieces under a microscope for quality.

With his business Mountain Spirit Jewels growing at a rapid pace, Sennin hopes to pay down business related debts that were used for equipment and materials to help grow his professional practice. Sennin also aspires to purchase new materials that would allow him add some new, high-end rings to his portfolio.