2023-2025 Eureka Fellowship Awardees
Amy Elkins (MFA ‘22), Xandra Ibarra (Art Practice Lecturer), Dana Hemenway (Art Practice Lecturer), and Rodrigo Reyes (Doc Film Adjunct Faculty) were named as the newest recipients of the Fleishhacker Foundation's prestigious Eureka Fellowship Program out of the 12 Bay Area artists awarded. Each will receive $35,000 to continue living and creating art in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The visual artists in this cohort of recipients include filmmakers, photographers, mixed-media artists, sculptors, painters, and many more. These individuals are deeply rooted in their Bay Area communities and, like many local artists, must navigate the difficult economic realities of being a practicing artist in our region. The 12 artists were nominated by local arts nonprofits and selected by a panel of national visual arts experts through a blind evaluation based on sample work provided. Their work stood out among the 123 local Bay Area artists nominated for the Eureka Fellowship.
“Our goal is to empower artistic and creative freedom in the Bay Area,” said Board President John Ehrlich. “Since the beginning of the Eureka Fellows Program in 1986, we have been pleased to provide more than $3 million in unrestricted support to 144 artists to help them continue creating inspiring work that enriches our community. We are delighted to recognize this new cohort of exceptional artists.”
“We have put equity at the forefront of grantmaking to support local artists that merit and attract national and global recognition,” added Fleishhacker Foundation Executive Director David Blazevich. “At the same time, artists have told us there is immense value in the artistic freedom that this award affords them to create meaningful and engaging new work.”
The Fleishhacker Foundation’s Eureka Fellowship Program provides unrestricted grants of $35,000 making the awards among the largest fellowships for visual artists in Northern California. The awards are based solely on artistic merit evidenced by previous work and are not restricted to specific projects. The Eureka Fellowships are designed to help artists continue creating artwork by supporting more uninterrupted creative time.
Jurists for this year’s selection process included Ashley James, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim in New York; Miriam Bale, Artistic Director at Indie Memphis; and Michael Chavez, Public Art Program Manager for the City & County of Denver. More information on this year’s Eureka Fellowship recipients can be found below.
Exploring Marginalized Cultures: Many artists in this cohort consider ideas of otherness and what it means to be part of a marginalized culture. Pilar Agüero-Esparza explores these ideas through materials from her family’s tradition of huarache sandal-making. Arlene Correa Valencia uses her experiences as a self-described 25-year registered illegal alien to reclaim and make visible the voices of undocumented communities. Rodrigo Reyes is a filmmaker whose work is deeply grounded in his identity as an immigrant artist from Mexico, crafting a poetic gaze from the margins of both cultures. Heesoo Kwon explores the lives of her female ancestors using software, ritual practice, and feminist liberation.
Exploring Black Empowerment: Among this year’s class of recipients are two local artists exploring the fraught intersection of the Black Panthers and the government. Sadie Barnette uses multimedia to illuminate her family history. Among her recent projects is the reclamation of a 500-page FBI surveillance file amassed on her father’s time with the Black Panther party and an interactive reimagining of his bar - San Francisco’s first Black-owned gay bar. Another recipient, Emory Douglas, was politically involved as a Revolutionary Artist and then Minister of Culture for the Black Panther party, from 1967 until 1981. Douglas’ iconic art and design concepts were seen on the front and back pages of the Black Panther Newspaper, reflecting the politics of the Black Panther Party and the concerns of the community.
The work of these artists represents two explorations of equity, justice, and political power within the Black community in the Bay Area.
Exploring Identity and Other Themes: Artists Amy Elkins, Dana Hemenway, Angela Hennessy, Xandra Ibarra, Yarrow Slaps, and Maryam Yousif explore various themes from identity as it relates to cultural heritage, gender, and systems of power to making objects visible that have become habituated in our built environments.
“What makes this award unique is that the selection panel is always composed of visual arts experts who are not local,” added Amy Charles, Director of the Eureka Fellowship. “They review work samples without knowing the artists’ identities, making selections based solely upon the quality of the work submitted. Artists are nominated by dozens of local non-profit visual arts organizations, large and small, creating a diverse artistic pool in all ways – aesthetically, culturally, and stage of career.”
“I have no words to express my gratitude to the Fleishhacker Foundation for creating and sustaining this fellowship,” said filmmaker Vivian Kleiman, a 2022 Eureka Fellow. “It has been a lifeline through turbulent waters. This prestigious award offers affirmation for work that’s usually done in isolation, and respite from the grueling need to write proposals, and sustenance to just do the work.”
Past Bay Area Eureka Fellows have gone on to international acclaim in their fields. Alumni include notable artists like Tauba Auerbach, Enrique Chagoya, Kota Ezawa, Mildred Howard, David Ireland, Hung Liu, Barry McGee, Richard Misrach, and more.
The 2023-2025 Eureka Fellowship awardees are as follows:
Pilar Agüero-Esparza’s inquiry begins with the materials and processes specific to growing up in a shoemaking family. In the craft tradition of huarache–making (Mexican indigenous sandals), repetitive gestures such as the weaving of leather, the hammering of nails, and the painting of finishing details inform her current practice.
Sadie Barnette’s multimedia practice illuminates her family history as it mirrors a collective history of repression and resistance in the United States. She holds a long and deep fascination with the personal and political value of kin.
Arleene Correa Valencia (2023)
Kindled by the complexities of her undocumented migration to the United States Arleene Correa Valencia, a native Mexican artist, explores the nuances of migration, visibility, invisibility, borders, and family separation through various mediums including textiles, social practice and painting.
A Bay Area resident since 1951, Emory Douglas’ artwork provided a visual soundtrack to the work of the Black Panther Party for decades.
She is interested in the complexities of identity, including how it is impacted by systems of power: prisons, military, and colonization. She has created numerous photographic projects and installations on these topics since 2005, the year a close family member went to prison.
Her work is an inquiry into what happens when craft practices come into use with utilitarian objects—to break down assumptions of an item’s inherent value.
She uses a spectrum of color and other phenomena of light to expose mythologies of identity. Ephemeral and celestial forms are constructed by everyday gestures of domestic labor—washing, wrapping, stitching, weaving, brushing, and braiding.
For the past 20 years, she has worked in sculpture, performance, and video using methods that proceed along scholarly, activist, and poetic lines. She often uses both research and visual practices to think through racialized and gendered boundaries of decency and what is seen as proper and improper.
Religious practices often organize family rituals in which misogyny and patriarchy function as guideposts. This burden informs Heesoo Kwon’s aesthetic interest in reimagining religion and time as feminist sites that hold the possibility to frame alternate forms of belonging, both for the self and others.
As a documentary filmmaker, Rodrigo Reyes grounds his work in his identity as an Latinx immigrant artist from Mexico, crafting cinema rooted in the margins of Mexico and the United States. By using intimate narratives combined with striking, poetic imagery, he hopes to portray the contradictory nature of our shared world, while revealing the potential for transformative change.
Yarrow Slaps is a San Francisco-born and based artist raised on the Bay Area’s multicultural politics, aesthetics, and practices. Operating at various D.I.Y. intersections, with an artistic, curatorial, and entrepreneurial approach to multimedia projects.
Maryam Yousif’s work explores Mesopotamian mythology, history, and ancient objects as a means of building a powerful imagination in which she finds hope, beauty, and reconciliation. Through making and research she mines personal and cultural histories relating to her birthplace, fusing this all within our present moment.
About the Fleishhacker Foundation
The Fleishhacker Foundation is a family foundation located in San Francisco, California. It was established in 1947 to improve the quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Foundation makes grants to local, community-based organizations and artists in two main areas: Arts & Culture and Education. Education grants are awarded to local organizations that provide literacy services to K-5 students from under-resourced Bay Area public schools. Arts grants are made to local small to mid-sized visual and performing arts organizations, arts services organizations, and films by Bay Area filmmakers. The Foundation’s Eureka Fellowship Program also provides unrestricted grants of $35,000 to Bay Area visual artists, making the Eureka awards among the largest fellowships for visual artists in Northern California.
The Fleishhacker Foundation has a proud 75-year history of funding a broad array of Bay Area arts and culture organizations. It focuses its arts grants on advancing the work of emerging artists and arts groups and furthering the artistic innovations and original voices that make the Bay Area such a vibrant, culturally diverse community.
For more information visit www.fleishhackerfoundation.org