The 2023 cohort of artists will receive $100,000 unrestricted Fellowships in addition to supplemental support
Oakland, CA – The Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced today the 2023 recipients of The Rainin Fellowship, a third year initiative that supports visionary artists working across disciplines in the Bay Area. Administered by United States Artists, the annual Fellowship awards four artists and artist collectives with unrestricted grants of $100,000, as well as supplemental support tailored to address each Fellow’s specific needs and goals, including financial planning, coaching and mentorship and legal services.
The Fellowship funds artists working across four disciplines—Dance, Film, Public Space and Theater—who are deeply committed to the region’s arts ecosystem. These artists push the boundaries of creative expression, anchor local communities and advance the field.
As anchor artists, Rainin Fellows are vital to their communities. The 2023 Rainin Fellows mobilize a range of site-specific storytelling and community-based artistic practices to innovate new modes of interdisciplinary artmaking and social impact. This year’s cohort engages with myriad histories of the region, amplifying diasporic narratives, highlighting systemic inequities and honoring and furthering the Bay Area’s activist legacies.
“It is a privilege to honor these remarkable anchor artists and their immense impact.”Ted Russell, Rainin Foundation, Director, Arts Strategy & Ventures
The Four 2023 Rainin Fellows
Mohammad Gorjestani (Film) is a director, photographer, multidisciplinary artist and founder of award-winning creative studio and production company Even/Odd. His work exists between fiction and nonfiction forms with an aesthetic and perspective emerging from the community and cultures that raised him as a first-generation immigrant from Iran growing up in public housing in the Bay Area. Recent films and shorts include “Sister Hearts,” “Refuge“ and “Exit 12,” which was acquired by Searchlight Pictures. “Exit 12“ won the Jury Prize at SXSW, Camden International Film Festival and seven other Oscar-qualifying festivals; and earned Vimeo’s Video of the Year Award. He has earned twelve Vimeo Staff Picks and six Webby Awards. He is also the artist behind “1-800 Happy Birthday,” an installation project featuring phone booths-turned-memorials of birthday voicemails left for the victims of police killings. Gorjestani is a founding partner of The Adachi Project, a first-of-its-kind storytelling project with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.
Joanna Haigood (Dance) is a choreographer and site artist who has been creating work that uses natural, architectural and cultural environments as points of departure for movement exploration and narrative since 1980. Haigood’s stages have included grain terminals, a clock tower, the pope’s palace, military forts and a mile of urban neighborhood streets in the South Bronx. Her work has been commissioned by arts institutions including Dancing in the Streets, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Walker Arts Center, the Exploratorium Museum, the National Black Arts Festival and Festival d’Avignon. She has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, USA Fellowship, New York Bessie Award and the Doris Duke Artist Award. Haigood has had the privilege to mentor many extraordinary young artists internationally at the École Nationale des Arts du Cirque in France, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in England, Spelman College, and many more, including members of her company Zaccho Dance Theatre.
Related Tactics (Public Space) is an artistic collaboration formed in 2015 between artists and cultural workers Michele Carlson, Weston Teruya and Nathan Watson. These three artists of color came together to proactively and specifically address the impacts of systemic racism and white supremacy and create spaces for mutual support and transformation. Their projects explore the connections between art, movements for social justice and the public through transdisciplinary exchanges, collective making and dialogue. Related Tactics’ projects have been presented by Wexner Center for the Arts, Berkeley Art Center, The Luminary, Center for Craft, Southern Exposure and Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco. They have been supported through Kala Art Institute’s Print Public, a Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship, a CoLAB residency from the Lucas Artists Program of Montalvo Arts Center, as well as grants from the San Francisco Arts Commission and Ruth Foundation for the Arts.
Sean San José (Theater) is a writer, director, performer and co-founder of Campo Santo, a performance group for People of Color in San Francisco. Founded in 1996, Campo Santo is committed to developing new performances and to nurturing People of Color-centered audiences and has premiered over one hundred new works. San José is in his second year as the Artistic Director at the Magic Theatre, where he is the first Person of Color to hold the position in the history of the theatre. For the prior fifteen years, San José was the Program Director of Performance for Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco’s oldest alternative arts space. He co-created Alma Delfina Group-Teatro Contra el SIDA and “Pieces of the Quilt,” a collection of over fifty short plays on AIDS. Writing commissions and productions include “Play On!“ for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Conservatory Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Ictus Productions, Kronos Quartet, KULARTS and others.
“We are beyond excited to announce the third annual cohort of Rainin Fellows. Their boundary-pushing creative practices, performances, plays, films and writings illuminate and further enrich the longstanding history of cultural experimentation and innovation in the Bay Area,” said Ted Russell, Director, Arts Strategy & Ventures at the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. “It is a privilege to honor these remarkable anchor artists and their immense impact. These visionaries are helping other artists thrive and enhancing the quality of life in our shared communities.”
“Their boundary-pushing creative practices, performances, plays, films and writings illuminate and further enrich the longstanding history of cultural experimentation and innovation in the Bay Area.”Ted Russell, Rainin Foundation, Director, Arts Strategy & Ventures
This year’s Fellows were nominated by Bay Area artists and cultural leaders and selected through a two-part review process with the help of national reviewers and a panel of four local jurors. The reviewers were Roya Amirsoleymani, Dominique Atwood, Casey Emile Baron, Zandashé Brown, Lisa Gonzales, Ka Oskar Ly, Nico Rodriguez Melo, Hana S. Sharif, Paz Tanjuaquio, Lauren Turner Hines, Rita M. Rufino Valente-Quinn and Jennifer Wilson. The jurors were Rotimi Agbabiaka, Fay Darmawi, Lily Kharrazi and PJ Gubatina Policarpio.
The Rainin Fellowship was established to recognize and support visionary Bay Area artists who are deeply committed to the region and whose practices influence and inspire others. It aims to support artists holistically in order to build a more sustainable arts ecosystem. The fellowship ethos is grounded in a trust-based philanthropic model that honors cultural anchors and centers artist needs. By providing artists with a substantial, unrestricted monetary award, as well as a variety of tailored supplemental support, the Fellowship helps ensure that there remains a home for visionary artists in the Bay Area.