Twenty local artists receive $15,000 each from Edmonton Artists' Trust Fund


The Edmonton Arts Council (EAC) celebrated the achievements of 20 local artists with its announcement of the recipients of the 2021 Edmonton Artists' Trust Fund awards.

The awards, from EAC and the Edmonton Community Foundation, aim in part to encourage artists to stay in the city. Each recipient is awarded $15,000 to support the development of their creative practice, which will come as welcome news amidst continued challenges for artists during the pandemic.

"We are proud to recognize these 20 outstanding artists whose diverse perspectives and practices help make the Edmonton region a vibrant and exciting place to live," said Sanjay Shahani, executive director of the EAC, in a news release.

"Supporting the careers of artists like our 2021 recipients is foundational to the growth of our arts community, fostering an exciting ecology of creation and expression."

The recipients are:

  • Cayley Thomas, an award-winning musician, actor, and video producer. Her work aims to honour "all aspects of the human experience through curiosity, compassion and collaboration."
  • Dwayne Martineau, a visual artist, musician, composer and writer. A member of the Frog Lake First Nation, Martineau explores "forests, non-linear time, and the physicality of light through installation and lens-based media."
  • Ellen Chorley is a playwright, producer and arts educator. She also works as the festival director for the Nextfest Arts Company and teaches at the Citadel Theatre's Foote Theatre School.
  • Emily Chu is a Chinese illustrator who produces commercial illustrations, community-centered arts engagement projects, and public art/murals.
  • Emily Riddle is nehiyaw and a member of the Alexander First Nation. She is a writer, editor, public library worker, and researcher, and is currently working on a non-fiction manuscript about treaty feminism.
  • Erin Pankratz works on contemporary mosaics, public art, murals, commissions, and collaborative projects.
  • Frederick Kroetsch runs Catapult Pictures with his wife Rebecca Campbell, and works on projects from comedy web-series to feature-length documentaries.
  • Gabriel Molina is a visual artist who produces digital prints, video and GIF works, and multimedia installations. Molina will have a solo exhibition at Latitude 53 in 2022.
  • Layla Folkmann is a renowned mural artist and painter focused on socially and culturally engaged public art.
  • Madhan Selvaraj has worked as an arts administrator for more than 10 years. Currently, he is directing a documentary that will work to address racism and systematic bias.
A collage of six of the recipient artists' headshots

Six of the artists selected for the 2021 Edmonton Artists' Trust Fund (clockwise from the top left): Madhan Selvaraj, Melissa-Jo Belcourt, Nasra Adem, Natahna Bargen-Lema, Natalie Meyer, and Maigan van der Giessen. (Edmonton Arts Council)

  • Maigan van der Giessen is a poet, vocalist, visual artist, organizer, mother and human rights advocate. She works under the moniker "Tzadeka".
  • Makram Ayache is an artist and educator who explores representations of queer Arab voices through his playwriting.
  • Melissa-Jo Belcourt is an artist focused on her Indigenous cultural heritage. She served as an Indigenous artist in residence with the City of Edmonton in 2019.
  • Nasra Adem is a queer Oromo/Somali multidisciplinary artist who founded Black Arts Matter and is a former youth poet laureate of Edmonton.
  • Natahna Bargen-Lema is a queer writer, graphic designer, and the co-founder of publishing house Party Trick Press.
  • Natalie Meyer is an Indo-Canadian multidisciplinary visual artist, painter, videographer, and youth educator.
  • Sherryl Sewepagaham is an elementary music educator, choral composer, music therapist, songmaker, and hand drum singer who has focused on Indigenous music throughout her career.
  • Steven Teeuwsen is an artist, designer, and curator who is also the founding editor of Notebook Magazine.
  • D'orjay The Singing Shaman (otherwise known as Tiffany Jackson) is a country singer with a "distinct queer, Black twist."
  • Yong Fei Guan is a Chinese-Canadian artist who explores "multicultural identity, politics, and their relationship to environmental issues in her work."

The artists selected received a total of $300,000 through the awards.

The Edmonton Artists' Trust Fund is held by the Edmonton Community Foundation, and currently stands at $120,000 annually, committed through 2021.