What Is Artist Files?

Artist Files is a grant for individual artists working in a socially engaged manner that mimics a socially engaged art project.

It’s administered by A Blade of Grass and curated by Kalia Brooks. The grant has a three-phase process that will unfold largely on this website in July, August and September, so that the dialogue around what constitutes a socially engaged art practice and how one defines excellence in this emerging field is open to as many participants as possible. This means that you, the reader, have an opportunity to help us define what socially engaged practice is, how its manifold audiences engage it, and what constitutes excellence in this field.

Because the grant is curated, it has both a process and vision. As this grant unfolds in time, Kalia will be writing about this vision, and I will be writing about process. Both Kalia and I will be working in a call-and-response pattern to one another, to you the readers, and to our Advisors and Board, to continually refine the criteria for the grant until we have actual grantees.

Artist Files is a grant for New York City-based artists who are working innovatively by engaging communities. It an unrestricted grant – it’s not project funding. Grantees agree to share information with A Blade of Grass about their own economic sustainability, and A Blade of Grass agrees to share that information in a useful way with a larger community of artists.

This curated grant was recommended by our Advisory Committee. Each Advisor nominated prospective curatorial fellows working with social engagement, and Kalia was chosen after an interview process in which prospective fellows were asked to dream up a generative, concrete response or solution to the existing system for grants to individual artists. Kalia was chosen because her proposal was particularly practical and implementable. It also successfully moved beyond problematizing or critiquing grants to individual artists and proposed a solution, and it successfully aligned with our mission by defining “social engagement” broadly and positively, around the notion of generosity. We particularly liked that part about generosity.   

Artist Files is the first of a multi-year experiment aimed at expanding what a grant to an individual artist can be.

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