News Register for our weekly news digest here.

Aki Sasamoto, Lex Brown, and rafa esparza. Photos: Takehiro Iikawa, Nicholas Calcott, provided by artist.
Aki Sasamoto, Lex Brown, and rafa esparza. Photos: Takehiro Iikawa, Nicholas Calcott, provided by artist.

United States Artists Announces 2021 USA Fellows

Chicago–based arts nonprofit United States Artists (USA) has announced sixty recipients of its 2021 fellowships, marking the largest fellowship class in its fifteen-year history. Each of the selected artists, working across ten creative disciplines—Architecture & Design, Craft, Dance, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, and Writing—will receive an unrestricted $50,000 cash award.

Among this year’s cohort, drawn from all corners of the country and representing all age groups and career stages, are performance artist Jibz Cameron, aka Dynasty Handbag; photocollage artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby; painter and sculptor Daniel Lind-Ramos; video and installation artist Carolyn Lazard; performance artist rafa esparza, and performance and installation artist Aki Sasamoto.

The program, founded in 2006, aims to honor recipients for their past contributions to the arts, and to support their ongoing artistic and professional development. To that end, the organization stipulates that the cash award may be used for anything from creating new work to paying rent or obtaining health care. Despite the continuing Covid-19 crisis, USA in 2020 was able to distribute $20 million in direct funding to nearly 4,000 artists in need.

“We are grateful for every artist whose artmaking, music, writing, and more is helping us to navigate and cope through this harrowing time in our country,” said United States Artists president and CEO Deana Haggag in a statement. “The 2021 USA Fellows are a testament to the power of art in shaping the world around us and navigating its complexities. Artists do so much for our communities, and we are grateful to be able to support these sixty incredible practitioners and welcome them into the United States Artists fellowship.”

Writer Edwidge Danticat, a 2020 USA Fellow, noted the importance of the fellowship in relation to the pandemic. “Now more than ever,” she said in a statement “artists need this kind of support, not just for continuity, but for safety and survival.”

The complete list of 2021 USA Fellows is below.

Architecture & Design

Jennifer Bonner / MALL
Walter Hood
Olalekan Jeyifous


Diedrick Brackens
Bisa Butler
Amber Cowan
Salvador Jiménez-Flores
Cannupa Hanska Luger
Tiff Massey
Erin M. Riley


Ishmael Houston-Jones
Emily Johnson
Cynthia Oliver
Ni’Ja Whitson


Faren Humes
Macha Colón
Stephen Maing
Darius Clark Monroe
Naima Ramos-Chapman
Jennifer Reeder


Morehshin Allahyari
Stephanie Dinkins
Lauren Lee McCarthy
Mother Cyborg


Martha Gonzalez
Edward “Kidd” Jordan
Tomeka Reid
Wadada Leo Smith
Mazz Swift

Theater & Performance

Jibz Cameron
Carmelita Tropicana
Christopher Chen
Sandra Delgado
Idris Goodwin
Mia Katigbak
Karen Zacarías

Traditional Arts

Ofelia Esparza
Nathan P. Jackson
Basil Kincaid
Kawika Lum-Nelmida
Carolyn L. Mazloomi
Geo Soctomah Neptune
Delina White

Visual Art

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Lex Brown
rafa esparza
Maria Gaspar
Sharon Hayes
Carolyn Lazard
Daniel Lind-Ramos
Aki Sasamoto


Alexander Chee
Eve L. Ewing
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Dunya Mikhail
Elizabeth McCracken
Natalie Y. Moore
Danez Smith
Ocean Vuong