United States Artists announces its 2021 USA Fellows, supporting 60 artists with $50,000 each

The largest fellowship in the organisation’s 15-year history, USA has given funds to 60 artists from 10 disciplines – ranging from architecture, design, dance and film to art, writing and performance.

3 February 2021


Launching today, United States Artists (USA) has announced its 2021 USA Fellows – a class of 60 artists across 10 disciplines that are all receiving $50,000 awards each.

The largest in the organisation’s 15-year history, this year’s awards have been given to artists from 22 American states and from all stages of their careers, spanning architecture and design, craft, dance, film, media, music, theatre and performance, traditional arts, visual art and writing. The 2021 roster includes Morehshin Allahyari, an Iranian-Kurdish media artist, activist and writer from Brooklyn, New York; Stephanie Dinkins, a transdisciplinary American artist based in Brooklyn; Lauren Lee McCarthy, an American artist and computer programmer from LA; and Mother Cyborg, a Detroit-based artist, DJ and educator.

The USA Fellowship has provided support to artists since its founding in 2006, giving the artists freedom to decide how best to use the money. This can be anything from creating new work, paying rent, reducing debt, healthcare or supporting their families. After launching, the USA has awarded more than 700 individuals and provided over $33 million in direct support.

In the past, awardees have included painter and visual artist Howardena Pindell, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, writer Teju Cole, potter Roberto Lugo, multimedia artist Paul Chan, dancer and choreographer Alice Sheppard, fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte and filmmaker Barry Jenkins to name a few.

“We are grateful for every artist whose art-making, music, writing and more is helping us to navigate and cope through this harrowing time in our country,” says United States Artists president and CEO Deana Haggag in an announcement. “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 60 incredible practitioners and welcome them into the United States Artists fellowship.”

Founding partner of Artist Relief, United States Artists has helped to distribute over $20 million in direct funding to almost 4,000 artists so far. USA has also administered the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Disability Futures initiative, which is on course to announce similar funds later this year.

“Artists are at the core of their communities, and as the difficulties of the past year have demonstrated, it is more important than ever that we continue to support individual artists,” says Ed Henry, USA board chair in the fellowship’s release. Meanwhile, Edwidge Danticat, a writing fellow from last year’s awards, says: “From the beginning of my career, I have always benefited from the generous support of others, be it the use of a family member’s house, or advice from older and more experienced writers, or grants and prizes that have gifted me the time to concentrate on my work. Now more than ever, artists need this kind of support, not just for continuity, but for safety and survival.”

GalleryUnited States Artists: 2021 USA Fellows (Copyright © United States Artists, 2021)


Lauren Lee McCarthy: 24h HOST, 2017–present. Performance, software, installation. Created in collaboration with Casper Schipper. Photo by Yifan Zhang and Zhiyang Gao.


Morehshin Allahyari: She Who Sees The Unknown: Aisha Qandisha, 2019. Installation with 3D-printed resin sculpture, reflecting pool, and HD video. Photo by Don Hall.


Morehshin Allahyari: She Who Sees the Unknown: Kabous, The Right Witness, and the Left Witness, 2019. Installation with 3D-printed resin sculptures and VR video. Photo by Dan Bradica; image courtesy the artist and The Shed, New York City.


Mother Cyborg: Mother Cyborg, 2017. Photo by Ara Howrani.


Stephanie Dinkins: Secret Garden. Immersive web experience and installation with audio.

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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