Learn about some of the amazing artists who have participated in our two largest programs!
Capacity-Building Grant Program
The Studios at MASS MoCA Artist Residency Program
Allison maria rodriguez
Allison Maria Rodriguez is a first-generation Cuban-American interdisciplinary artist working predominately in video installation and new media. She creates immersive experiential spaces that challenge conventional ways of knowing and understanding the world. Her work focuses extensively on climate change, species extinction and the interconnectivity of existence.
In 2017, Allison was selected to participate in Assets for Artists’ Matched Savings Program. She attended the flagship financial bootcamp and two business sessions, and additionally received one-on-one career counseling sessions.
“A4A assisted me in thinking about my long term career objectives. Blair really pushed me to try to set goals I could set up a plan to reach, that would grant me access to more goals even further down the line. I can actually honestly say that I have reached almost every one of the goals we set together. For example, I wanted to get a solo show, and now I’ve had three.”
In her first two years after being awarded an Assets for Artists grant, Allison completed 5 residencies, received four grants and one fellowship that launched her into her 6th residency at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, working on their “Climate Change at the Arctic’s Edge” project. She is a winner of the 2017 Creative Climate Awards sponsored by The Human Impacts Institute for her video installation “Wish You Were Here: Greetings from the Galápagos.”
“Attending these workshops and discussing our particular challenges as artists in a safe space with others facing similar challenges was truly a remarkable experience. Due to the unique nature of the obstacles we face in our profession, it can be difficult to receive advice from family and friends. Meeting other artists facing similar struggles, and witnessing how they each work to build a life around their practices was truly inspiring.”
Tracy Baker-White is a Williamstown-based landscape painter. While continuing her practice as a painter, Baker-White spent twenty years working as a museum educator in California, Texas, and Washington D.C.
Despite this, Baker-White says, “I never really approached my own art making as a business until I got the A4A grant.” She had painted for many years without selling anything, so she simply paid for her materials and costs from her own household budget.
As she developed her own studio practice, she realized that she had to face the realities of paying taxes, the cost of materials, figuring out an inventory system, and how to handle credit card sales. She wanted to sit down and develop a business plan to focus on who her clients were and how to best reach them.
A 2019 A4A grant awardee, in her first six months after the A4A workshops, Tracy saw her cash flow up compared to that time last year, and she is hopeful that her final sales will be up by year’s end. Most important to her, though, is that she has taken steps to run her studio practice in a stricter business manner and that she gained confidence in promoting her business.
“Because of our society’s historic, romantic notions of the starving artist, we are taught that the money side of art is somehow sordid—as though the art will be more pure if it’s made without consideration of profit or cost. …Addressing the financial side of being an artist as a business proposition allows artists to view their own activities through a more realistic lens. Most artists still need support while developing their practice, but they shouldn’t have to be ashamed to treat their sales like any other business.”
Ngoc-Tran Vu is a Vietnamese American multimedia artist, organizer, storyteller, and connector. In her work, she strives to visually preserve stories from communities of color and the refugee and immigrant experience of migration and displacement.
Tran possibly has the distinction of being the only A4A Grantee to date who has gone through our program twice, first in 2018 as one of our Boston cohort, then in 2019 as part of a special cohort of the New England Foundation for the Arts’ Creative City program.
The most important piece of the A4A program for Tran?
“To be in spaces with other creatives, to talk one-on-one and talk shop and learn about possible collaboration.”
While going through the program, Tran was house-hunting in the Boston area, her career path in the arts created additional and unexpected barriers to homeownership. Despite, or perhaps because of, these challenges, she is passionate about financial literacy, and appreciates the way Assets for Artists took the financial knowledge she already had and transformed it into a sustainable routine for herself.
Since Tran joined her first A4A cohort, she has been working on several projects, including a developing proposal “Hidden in Plain Sight,” which is a finalist for a NEFA Creative City Grant. Her project aims to build community dialogue about mental health in the immigrant and refugee communities in Dorchester. In 2019 Tran was named one of WBUR’s ARTery 25, recognizing millennial Boston artists acting as change agents in the city. Three other A4A alumni, Billy Dean Thomas, Allison Maria Rodriguez, and Tim Hall joined her on that list.
PRIYA NADKARNI GREEN & ANDRAE GREEN
Painter Priya Nadkarni Green (2014) had always considered herself to be detail oriented, frugal and good at numbers and budgets, but, until Assets for Artists, she had never thought about her career as an artist in the terms of an entrepreneur. Her husband and another painter, Andrae Green (2016), on the other hand, grew up watching his father run his own driving school business while his mother had a career as an independent caterer. With this family model, Andrae knew from an early age that he always wanted the freedom to control his own schedule. For him, being an artist was an extension of that desire.
“Focusing on the financial aspect of my business, not only jumpstarted the finances, it jumpstarted everything! Starting a business bank account, which was used only for business income and expenses, somehow opened up a door to getting more opportunities and more revenue. Starting a profit/loss sheet opened up more lines of revenue (and expenses).” –Priya
After her husband went through the Assets for Artists program, the couple decided to co-mingle their separate art careers into a single business. Not only did this decision lead to more financial success, Andrae and Priya found themselves naturally collaborating on projects for the first time under the name Ambidextrous. In 2019 they participated as collaborators in Springfield’s Fresh Paint Mural Festival to create “Victory.”
“When I used to live in Jamaica I had a thriving art practice and was used to selling my art but I never had the business concept in mind. The practical tools that I got from the program were invaluable to me” . –Andrae
Performance and installation artist Sandrine Schaefer was awarded an A4A Matched Savings grant in 2017, and at the time they thought a lot about the sort of support performance artists need to develop and present their work. Sandrine wanted to create some type of educational platform to support a broad range of performance artists, however as they approached graduation, they realized that platform needed to be much broader than originally envisioned. Some of that envisioned support Sandrine has since produced through a curatorial practice in which they have exhibited 350 artists; some of that support has come in the writing of critical texts for peer-reviewed journals and books, including an essay for Responding to Site: The Performance Work of Marilyn Arsem, (Intellect Press, UK, forthcoming) and an essay published in PUBLIC Journal: Art Culture Ideas Issue 58.
Sandrine’s artwork often takes the form of site-sensitive performance art and installation and often includes research components. Since graduating the A4A program, they have produced many new artworks including one of the most ambitious pieces they have made to date, P A C E Investigations No. 6, a yearlong artwork sited on the Watch Factory Riverwalk in Waltham, MA. They also participated in an artist exchange organized by Mobius Inc. between Boston area artists and artists working in Belfast, Ireland, for which Sandrine created a 16-hour continuous performance as part of the Cathedral Quarter Festival in May 2018. They have received awards from the Boston Center for the Arts; Vermont Studio Center; Barbara and Amos Hostetter and Eugene M. Lang Foundation; the Independent Scholar Award from Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts; Live Arts Boston through the Boston Foundation; and the Waltham Cultural Council. Currently they are the Fall Visiting Artist in Residence at Boston Center For the Arts where they are developing a yearlong piece.
Other notable exhibitions include:
Will Holub is a visual artist living and working in Old Lyme, CT, known for his use of paper as a textural material on the surfaces of his abstract paintings. In 2019, Will was a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and a Connecticut Office of the Arts Artist Fellowship Grant. This funding has enabled him to continue the process of creating an archive and inventory of over three decades of his artwork. The grants have also made it possible to make many studio upgrades, replace outdated equipment and, most crucially, replenish all of his art supplies and make new work.
“One of the greatest benefits of the excellent A4A trainings and counseling was the way it greatly expanded my network of professional contacts in New England. Making paintings is a solitary occupation, so meeting other artists is tremendously helpful, both personally and professionally. I have profited much more than just financially, since I now feel part of a vibrant and ever-growing community of artists.”
Since receiving an A4A Matched Savings Program grant in 2016, Will’s work has been included in exhibitions at the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT, the Mystic Museum of Art, Mystic, CT, the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA, the Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT, the Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich, CT, the Lyme Art Association, Old Lyme, CT, and Five Points Gallery, Torrington, CT, one of CT’s leading contemporary art venues.
Cliff Notez’s Studios at MASS MoCA residency came at a particularly unsteady time in his life. He was effectively homeless and working on a brand new album. Then he got to come to MASS MoCA, where he had a studio and apartment and a cohort of fellow artists supporting him. The residency allowed him the time, space and resources to build himself back up. As he explains to Vanyaland in an interview for the release of Why The Wild Things Are:
“That was my first time being able to like… not be, or worry about anything. I shut it out, and literally tried to fix all the pieces from falling. That’s where I began painting the cover for Why The Wild Things Are, and various other things. I worked on a ton of films and made definitely over a hundred songs. It was an energy I had never felt before and I needed to embrace it. I continued to barely sleep, but it was out of excitement. I’m at this museum finally being respected by institutionalized art as an artist. I didn’t want to waste my shot. A lot of the really guts of the album was made up there. I’m so grateful.”
More than anything, he says, MASS MoCA validated him as an artist, showed him that he was as good as the artists he’d been supporting for years as an arts administrator, and that it was okay to ask for his turn on the other side of the museum walls. Since his residency, Cliff released his album, Why The Wild Things Are, became a professor first at Berklee, teaching production and songwriting, then at Emerson, teaching music marketing.
Since Leanne Boudreau graduated from the Assets for Artists program in 2017, she and her handwovens have been passing the moon and heading for the stars! Her work is now featured in over 75 gift shops, craft galleries, and museum stores. She’s participated in national craft shows, including ones with the American Craft Council and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Previously in Lowell, MA, and now based in Westminster, she more recently opened a brick and mortar craft gallery and gift shop Notown Goods that sells the work of American artists, artisan and apothecaries in her new hometown. But if you’re not lucky enough to be in Westminster or near one of those 75 gift shops, never fear! Leanne also sells her works on her website, Loomination.
In 2017, the multi-talented New York artist Daphne Arthur attended a 3-week residency at the Studios at MASS MoCA where she developed an interactive sculpture made of 1,000 handmade polymer clay flowers. “The Appearance of a Jeweled Lotus” debuted the following year at the Global Radical Relevances Conference in Finland.
Since then, she has done set design for The Bench, a play by Robert Galinsky and directed by Jay O. Sanders. The show ran in New York at the Chery Lane Theater, the Hudson Guild Theatre, and is now running for a second season in L.A. Inspired by and based on the same play, Daphne completed a new graphic novel, The Bench: A Homeless Love Story, and is now in the process of publishing the work.
And if sculpture, set design, and graphic novels weren’t enough, Daphne is also in full production mode for a solo show at Rider University, which will include sculpture, paintings, a music score, and smoke drawings, all inspired from Zora Neale Huston’s Barracoon. About this upcoming project, she says, “I’m looking forward to exploring my musical side and creating a harmonious space in which my practice can incorporate many creative dimensions.”