Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists

by National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Support Art Education and Inspire Young Artists
Installation view. Photo by Jason Koerner
Installation view. Photo by Jason Koerner

From May 4–July 31, 2023, YoungArts presented Megafauna Land Dwellers an exhibition exploring pressing environmental issues through art created by 28 dancers, designers, photographers, visual artists and writers. Curated by Naomi Fisher (1994 Visual Arts), artist, curator and co-founder of Bas Fisher Invitational (BFI), the group exhibition highlighted works that responded to vital topics such as eco-feminism, nature and wildlife conservation, artificial landscapes, activism and biodiversity.

Fisher’s artistic and curatorial practices are defined by humanity’s interaction with nature and its’ impact on the planet, as well as the inspiration natural forms have on how humans build and decorate dwellings, design functional objects and inspire art. For Megafauna Land Dwellers, these considerations were expanded into a larger and more textured dialogue through interdisciplinary and intergenerational voices.

Naomi Fisher shared: “We are at a critical time on planet earth, the urgency to change our lifestyles to combat climate change is clear based on many scientific reports, yet not enough action to reduce carbon in the necessary timeline is underway. Sometimes there is despair, and art brings us back to a place of contemplation through visual explorations of ideas rooted in many mediums. Art enlightens our awareness of how we perceive, interact with, and rely on nature.”

Megafauna Land Dwellers was part of YoungArts’ annual exhibition schedule, which provides space for an intergenerational group of artists across disciplines to present work that contemplates pressing issues from our past and present that affect our future. Invited guest artists or curators expand on the idea of conventional exhibition-making to embrace the idea of mentorship and peer-to-peer exchange between artists that are part of the YoungArts community and beyond.

Participating artists, who are all YoungArts award winners from the last 40 years, were:

  • Priscilla Aleman, 2009 Visual Arts & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts
  • Lizette Avineri, 2007 Visual Arts
  • Andie Aylsworth, 2018 Visual Arts
  • Marcus Bui, 2023 Photography
  • Liza Butts, 2012 Visual Arts
  • Catherine Camargo, 2017 Visual Arts
  • Michelle Chen, 2016 Writing
  • Juan Jose Cielo, 2015 Visual Arts
  • Zoe Dorado, 2023 Writing
  • Mackenzie Duan, 2023 Writing
  • Nicole Eisenman, 1983 Visual Arts
  • Charlotte Gagliardi, 2023 Design Arts
  • Ava Tiye Kinsey, 2004 Writing & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts
  • Smriti Krishnan, 2012 Dance
  • Olivia Le, 2023 Writing
  • Michael Loveland, 1991 Visual Arts
  • Jonathan Lovett, 2019 Photography
  • Lilly Mitrani, 2023 Photography
  • Zora Nooks, 2023 Photography
  • Isabel Oliva, 2017 Visual Arts
  • Lee Pivnik, 2014 Visual Arts
  • Coralina Rodriguez Meyer, 2000 Visual Arts
  • Vinicius de Aguiar Sanchez, 2007 Visual Arts
  • Nicole Salcedo, 2006 Visual Arts
  • Zoe Schweiger, 2018 Visual Arts
  • Nadir Souirgi, 1994 Visual Arts
  • Cornelius Tulloch, 2016 Design Arts & Visual Arts & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts
  • Gabrielle Vitollo, 2008 Visual Arts
Monarch II by Isabel Oliva
Monarch II by Isabel Oliva
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Lucas Buckwell, Design Arts class with Lucia Cuba
Lucas Buckwell, Design Arts class with Lucia Cuba

YoungArts envisions a world that embraces artists as vital to our humanity. Central to this vision is our country's young artists. They are the future: the creative minds who bravely challenge norms, encourage communities to think differently, innovate and evolve.

Each day, YoungArts works towards this vision and in January, YoungArts hosted National YoungArts Week, a seven-day intensive training program for YoungArts competition finalists: 138 of the nation’s most accomplished 15-18 year old artists. These artists convened in Miami to collaborate with peers across 10 disciplines and develop their craft with internationally recognized leaders in their field including author Richard Blanco, actor and playwright Taylor Mac, jazz alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, costume designer Machine Dazzle and actor BD Wong, among others. Exposure to this caliber of professional artist can be profound for a young person.

During this week-long program, YoungArts hosted 225 sessions including masterclasses, rehearsals, workshops and wellness sessions, in which young artists learned discipline-specific techniques, were trained in interdisciplinary collaboration, and had valuable one-on-one time with coaches and panelists to receive custom feedback about their work. Each artist participated in about 40 hours of programming.

Throughout the week, participating artists shared their work with live and virtual audiences over the course of four nights of performances at New World Center in Miami Beach, as well as an evening of writers’ readings and an exhibition opening at the YoungArts Campus in downtown Miami. A total of 2,187 individuals attended in person and an additional 1,200 unique individuals viewed the live stream on

Bringing these artists to Miami when they are first discovering and honing their creative practice is profound. Not only are young artists learning how to propel their artistic practice forward through training and mentorship, but they are also building a support system that can advocate for them for years to come.YoungArts endeavors to affirm the bravery of these artists by providing resources that nurture talent, expand networks, and foster collaboration and individuality. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported YoungArts and its mission to identify exceptional young artists, amplify their potential, and invest in their lifelong creative freedom. 

Harmony Zhu, class with Gerard Schwarz
Harmony Zhu, class with Gerard Schwarz
YoungArts Winners in Dance performing
YoungArts Winners in Dance performing
YoungArts Winners in Voice performing
YoungArts Winners in Voice performing


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Varun Das (2019 Jazz). Photo by Jason Koerner.
Varun Das (2019 Jazz). Photo by Jason Koerner.

In early December, YoungArts announced the 2023 YoungArts award winners— 702 of the most accomplished young visual, literary and performing artists from across the country. These winners joined a distinguished community of artists and are offered creative and professional development support throughout their careers. YoungArts winners are selected through a highly competitive application, which is reviewed by panels of esteemed discipline-specific artists in a rigorous blind adjudication process. A complete list of the 2023 winners, all 15–18 years old or in grades 10–12, is available online at

YoungArts is inspired each year by the talent, dedication and creativity of extraordinary early career artists. We are proud to support artists at critical junctures throughout their lives, and look forward to providing community and professional and creative development opportunities that will empower the 2023 award winners as they embark on exciting careers in the arts.

YoungArts awards are given in three categories: Finalist, Honorable Mention and Merit. YoungArts award winners are eligible to receive cash awards of up to $10,000 and will have opportunities to work with leading artists in their fields, participate in exclusive creative and professional development opportunities, and present their work to the public.

YoungArts award winners at the Finalist level are invited to participate in National YoungArts Week in January 2023 where they will have the chance to learn from notable artists such as architect Germane Barnes, author Richard Blanco, actor and playwright Taylor Mac, jazz alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, costume designer Machine Dazzle and actor BD Wong.

Finalists are also eligible to be nominated to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, one of the highest honors given to high school seniors by the President of the United States. YoungArts, the sole nominating agency, nominates 60 artists to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, from which the 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts are selected.

YoungArts award winners join a distinguished group of accomplished artists including Daniel Arsham, Terence Blanchard, Camille A. Brown, Timothée Chalamet, Viola Davis, Amanda Gorman, Judith Hill, Jennifer Koh, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Andrew Rannells, Desmond Richardson and Hunter Schafer.

Join us in congratulating the 2023 YoungArts award winners! 

This announcement is available at


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Still from Process Intensive
Still from Process Intensive

Collaboration is at the heart of YoungArts programming and we are always excited to host programs that encourage young artists to work across disciplines, think outside of the box and test the limits of their creativity. We are grateful to the many supporters who make programs like the ones shared below possible.


Process Intensive with 2022 YoungArts Award Winners

What does it take to establish and sustain a creative practice?

Over the course of three days in May 2022, 40 YoungArts award winners across 10 disciplines gathered virtually to explore essential questions around the creative process and focus on new tools and concepts for their own artistic practices.

Led by Torya Beard, Darren Biggart, Ayodele Casel and Peter Lerman, participants were invited to consider the common thread among artists who consistently create work that expresses their vision: a commitment to a well developed and personalized process. By shifting focus away from a finished piece or public showing, artists were able to center ideas like experimentation, collaboration and inspiration.

Through interactive sessions, master classes with Raja Feather Kelly, Lisa Kron and Ariel Osterweis and conversations, participants grew their commitment to and understanding of “the process” and made steps toward a deeper artistic practice and network of collaborators.


Video Credits: Brandon Dumlao/Subculture Filmworks, editor


YoungArts + Aon Interdisciplinary Collaborations: Javon Jackson+Nikki Giovanni with YoungArts Winners in Jazz and Writing

Recognizing young artists’ need for a sense of community and desire to collaborate, YoungArts partnered with Aon on a series of virtual sessions focused on interdisciplinary collaboration and led by acclaimed jazz saxophonist and bandleader Javon Jackson and award-winning poet, writer and activist Nikki Giovanni.

Modeled on their recently released album “The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni”, Jackson and Giovanni led 13 YoungArts award winners in Jazz and Writing in collaborations to generate new work. Four 60-minute virtual sessions created space for the potential that arises from deep listening between artists working in different artforms. Giving feedback and using personal examples from their storied careers, Jackson and Giovanni fostered an atmosphere of experimentation and collaboration, focusing on process rather than final product.

Our thanks to Javon Jackson, Nikki Giovanni and the participating YoungArts award winners for their insightful spirit and for allowing us to peer into the creative process; and to Aon for their continued support of artists.

Still from Interdisciplinary Collaborations
Still from Interdisciplinary Collaborations


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Daveed Baptiste How we found it, 2017 23"x15"
Daveed Baptiste How we found it, 2017 23"x15"

As we continue to celebrate YoungArts’ 40th anniversary and 40 years of serving artists, we are grateful for the many artists, friends and supporters who make YoungArts programming possible. We are delighted to share the following update:


2022 National YoungArts Week+

In January, YoungArts was excited to welcome 155 young artists from across the country and around the world for a virtual week-long intensive training program. Young artists participated in a total of 248 classes, where they gained valuable technical skills, collaborated with artists outside of their discipline and discovered a supportive, affirming and motivating community of peers and mentors, icnluding conductor Gerard Schwarz, dancer and choreographer Patricia Delgado, jazz pianist George Cables, writer Antwaun Sargent, jazz guitarist Raul Midón, poet Richard Blanco, actress Kate Burton and architect Germane Barnes.

Home: Reimagining Interiority

On April 7, YoungArts celebrated the opening of Home: Reimagining Interiority, a new group exhibition that explores the significant ways Black visual narratives respond to the dynamic cultural, political, social, economic and intimate changes that have forced us to (re)interrogate previous conceptions of Blackness and home.

Featuring photographic and text-based artwork created against the backdrop of the pandemic, the artists, 20 YoungArts award winners across disciplines and generations, draw the viewer in to show the intimate and personal impact of larger social and political events that we are only beginning to understand. The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Joan Morgan and Dr. Deborah Willis, both directors at the NYU Institute of African American Affairs, Center for Black Visual Culture. “The past two years have given us all so much to think about and process as we have been forced to renegotiate and navigate our relationship with the idea of ‘home’ and identity. Working with these artists and seeing how they have come to understand their sense of self and home during these times has been an amazing experience,” said curators Dr. Willis and Dr. Morgan.

Home: Reimagining Interiority will be on view in the YoungArts Gallery in Miami from April 7 through August 1, 2022 and will then travel to The Department of Photography & Imaging, Tisch Gallery at NYU, where it will be on view throughout the fall 2022 semester.

Artist Awards

YoungArts is grateful to support artists with unrestricted awards. This spring, we were delighted to announce the following awards:

Lin Arison Excellence in Writing Award

Stella Lei has been named as the recipient of the 2022 YoungArts Lin Arison Excellence in Writing Award, a $50,000 scholarship given each year to a YoungArts award winner in Writing.

“The panel selected Stella Lei, whose extraordinary skills in the craft of fiction are matched only by her innate gifts as a storyteller,” said Christopher Castellani (1990 & 1992 YoungArts Winner in Writing and National Selection Panelist). “With assured sentences that convince and transport, unforgettable characters with rich inner lives and complex histories, and the most precise and evocative language, Stella’s work exhibits a sophistication rarely found among writers at any age. Stella’s fiction, like all great fiction, has an ineffable quality that transcends itself and demands that the reader pay attention; in this way, and so many more, Stella immediately distinguished herself as one of the most compelling and exciting writers we’ve encountered in many years.”

“As soon as National YoungArts Week+ began, I was struck by the vibrant and all-consuming love everyone had for their art,” said Stella Lei. “The experience reinforced and reshaped how I approach my work—as an outlet, as archive, as beauty, as survival. I am beyond grateful for this scholarship and the opportunities it provides to keep creative writing. I aspire to continue making art long into the future, giving voice to my narrative and showing other young artists that they too deserve to be heard.”

Stella Lei is a writer based in southeast Pennsylvania. Her poetry and prose, which have been published in multiple magazines, embrace the surreal and find the fantastic among the everyday, featuring settings and characters infused with wonder and magic. Lei’s writing has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize and selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 longlist. Her debut prose chapbook, Inheritances of Hunger, is forthcoming for 2022.

Jorge M. Pérez Award

Juan Jose Cielo has been named the 2022 recipient of YoungArts’ Jorge M. Pérez Award. Cielo, a visual artist, was chosen for his thoughtful, multi-disciplinary artistic excellence and promise of future achievement. Cielo will receive an unrestricted prize of $25,000.

Juan Jose Cielo, a 2015 YoungArts winner in Visual Arts, is a Colombian-American artist based in New York who works in the medium of painting, photography, and short films. In 2017, Cielo was selected as an artist-in-residence with scientists and researchers at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. Cielo is a graduate of The Cooper Union in New York, with studies at the École nationale supérieure beaux-arts in Paris. His work has been exhibited at The Coral Springs Museum of Art, the Alliance Française Bogota, PennPlaza Pavilion, the Consulate of Colombia in New York, and the XVII Festival Internacional de la Imagen in Colombia. He is a recipient of the 2021 YoungArts Creative Microgrant. His work was recently published in National Geographic Traveler magazine June 2019 issue and has been featured on Univision 41 evening news.

A panel of judges selected Cielo based on his portfolio of work, which demonstrates depth of thought and insight by cleverly depicting simulations in painting, photography and short films where futuristic technology is interwoven with the sublime. Through his work, he grapples with the reality of the Latinx experience in the US, explores what it means to have a dual-heritage and creates space where Latin American myth and folklore are part of his vision of a futuristic world.

The Ashley Longshore Excellence in the Arts Award

YoungArts also recently announced the creation of a new annual unrestricted $25,000 award furthering its mission of providing support to artists at all stages of their careers.

The Ashley Longshore Excellence in the Arts Award is a $25,000 unrestricted award that deepens and expands support for artists in the disciplines of photography, musical theater and visual arts. In addition to the cash award, artists will have the opportunity to benefit from further mentorship, continuing education that can influence the trajectory of their careers.

In its inaugural year, the award will be granted to a past YoungArts winner in Theater (Musical Theater) and will honor the vibrant memory of Patrick B. Hale, an interdisciplinary artist in musical theater and visual arts. In the second and third years, the award will be granted respectively to a past YoungArts winner in Photography, in memory of photographer Alix Edmonson Martinez, and to a past YoungArts winner in Visual Arts. To be considered for the award, all candidates must be 25 years or older and exemplify the traits of artistic rigor, excellence, a love of their craft, and demonstrate an active interest in furthering the arts in their community.

For more information on these and other programs at YoungArts, please visit

Juan Jose Cielo. Photography by Jack R
Juan Jose Cielo. Photography by Jack R


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National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts

Location: Miami, FL - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @YoungArts
Project Leader:
Sarah Gray
Miami , FL United States
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