Dancer Michelle Ellsworth wins a $50,000 USA Fellowship prize

The sixth annual round of the USA Fellowship grants -- fifty awards of $50,000 each -- were announced last night in Los Angeles, and exactly one went to a Colorado artist: Michelle Ellsworth of Boulder, for her work in the field of dance.

Ellsworth has an MFA in dance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a BA in history and philosophy from New York University. She's taught at CU since 2000, and her performance works have been produced at Jacob's Pillow, Dance Theater Workshop, On The Boards, Diverseworks, Alaska's Perseverance Theater, The Sushi, the Telluride Experimental Film Festival and The Solo Mio Festival. She also does cartoons and video work, which has been presented at everything from P.S. 122 to Naropa University.

Here's the complete release, with the list of grant recipients at the end:


50 New USA Fellows Include Artists in Visual, Performing, Media, and Literary Arts from across the Country

Los Angeles, CA, December 5, 2011--A groundbreaking assemblage artist from Los Angeles, a photographer of rural Appalachia, and a documentary filmmaker from Chicago are among the 52 outstanding artists to receive 50 USA Fellowships from United States Artists (USA), the national grant-making and advocacy organization, which today awarded them unrestricted grants of $50,000 each. Since 2006, the USA Fellows program has named a total of 317 Fellows from 42states, providing a total of $15 million directly into the hands of America's finest artists. Hailing from 19 states and Puerto Rico, the 2011 USA Fellows range from 31 to 78 years of age and represent the most innovative and influential artists in their fields. They include pioneering thinkers, traditional practitioners, and avant-garde creators from the fields of architecture and design, crafts and traditional arts, dance, literature, media, music, theater arts, and visual arts. The complete list of winners is provided below.

United States Artists invests in America's finest artists through the USA Fellows program and USA Projects, a web-based microphilanthropy initiative that launched in 2010 and has enabled artists to raise over $1.3 million to support their creative projects. The 2011 USA Fellows reflect the diversity and complexity of artistic practice in America, from craft artists who use traditional techniques to create contemporary works, to pioneers of sustainable design, influential commentators on African-American culture, and modern dance innovators. The honorees include experimental architectural designer Jenny Sabin (Philadelphia, PA); contemporary blacksmith Tom Joyce (Santa Fe, NM); assemblage artist John Outterbridge (Los Angeles, CA); filmmaker Kelly Reichardt (New York, NY), director of Meek's Cutoff; feminist performance artist Carolee Schneemann (New Paltz, NY); photographer of rural Appalachia Mike Smith (Johnson City, TN); modern dance practitioner Donald Byrd (Seattle, WA), choreographer of The Color Purple on Broadway; pioneering conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg(Santa Monica, CA); glass artist Beth Lipman (Sheboygan Falls, WI); playwright Annie Baker (Brooklyn, NY); guitarist Manuel Barrueco (Lutherville, MD); Campbell McGrath (Miami Beach, FL), a writer known for his documentary poems; painter and theater artist Roger Shimomura (Lawrence, KS), who confronts Asian-American stereotypes in his work; documentary filmmaker Steve James, director of Hoop Dreams (Oak Park, IL); experimental composer and performer Sxip Shirey (New York, NY); and choreographer Lar Lubovitch (New York, NY)...

Through a rigorous evaluation process, panels of experts in each artistic discipline selected the 52 winning artists (including two collaboratives) from among 311 nominated applicants living in 45 states. USA Fellowships are awarded to artists at all career stages who demonstrate artistic excellence, unique artistic vision, and significant contributions to their fields.

"This year's USA Fellows truly represent the excellence of artists working in America, whether creating groundbreaking new work or imparting their wisdom to the next generation. We are proud of USA's $15 million investment in over 300 of the country's most accomplished artists," said USA Executive Director Katharine DeShaw. "With the success of the USA Fellows program and the launch of USA Projects as a new channel for public engagement with individual artists, USA is committed to supporting artists and enabling them to continue their extraordinary work."

"Now in its sixth year, USA has become an invaluable asset to living artists in the country by providing vital support, both financial and otherwise," said Samuel Hoi, USA Board chair and president of Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles. "We are pleased to be celebrating this year's USA Fellows in our hometown of Los Angeles, where so many of our USA Fellows live and work."

In 2010, USA launched USA Projects, the first microphilanthropy website dedicated exclusively to artists working in the United States. This unique online community allows anyone to discover original projects from some of today's most innovative artists and make tax-deductible donations to support their work. In just one year, artists have raised over $1.3 million on USA Projects, with an industry-leading success rate of over 75% and support from more 8,000 unique donors. As an initiative of United States Artists, USA Projects uniquely answers the needs of the artist community and provides an active support network and education program for artists. USA Projects is also the only microphilanthropy site that offers a matching fund program that gives any individual, group, organization, foundation, or corporation the ability to create a matching fund, specify their criteria, and automatically identify and apply funds to appropriate projects. In total, $460,000 in matching funds has been committed from organizations and individuals-- including artist Mark Bradford, the Austin Film Fund, and the Rasmuson Foundation. USA recently relaunched its website, with improved functionality and a more user-friendly design that incorporates feedback from visitors and artists.

About United States Artists United States Artists (USA's) mission is to invest in America's finest artists and illuminate the value of artists to society. Through the USA Fellows program, which annually awards 50 unrestricted grants of $50,000 each to outstanding performing, visual, media, and literary artists across the country, USA has put $15 million in the hands of artists in the six years since its founding. Past recipients of USA Fellowships include visual artists Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, and Catherine Opie; cartoonist Chris Ware; designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy (of Rodarte); performing artist Meredith Monk; jazz composer Jason Moran; ballet dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied; choreographer Bill T. Jones; and the writer Sapphire.

USA has extended its mission beyond the successful USA Fellows program with the launch of USA Projects, an online community where people can connect with, learn about, and support America's greatest artists and their next creative breakthroughs. USA Projects is the first microphilanthropy website dedicated exclusively to artists living and working in the United States, where anyone can discover original projects from some of today's most innovative artists and make tax-deductible donations to support their work. Through the USA Fellows program and the expanded reach of USA Projects, USA continues the work of advocating for living artists and providing a community where they can connect with the public and each other.

For further information about USA, please visit

USA Fellows for 2011

Architecture and Design

Elena Manferdini, USA CCF Fellow, Los Angeles, CA J. Morgan Puett, USA Simon Fellow, Beach Lake, PA Jenny Sabin, USA Knight Fellow, Philadelphia, PA Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano, USA Booth Fellows, New York, NY Mabel O. Wilson, USA Ford Fellow, New York, NY

Crafts and Traditional Arts

Sonya Clark, USA Glasgow Fellow, Richmond, VA Tom Joyce, USA Windgate Fellow, Santa Fe, NM Beth Lipman, USA Berman Bloch Fellow, Sheboygan Falls, WI Jon Eric Riis, USA Windgate Fellow, Atlanta, GA Akio Takamori, USA Ford Fellow, Seattle, WA Aaron Yakim, USA Ford Fellow, Parkersburg, WV


Donald Byrd, USA James Baldwin Fellow, Seattle, WA Nora Chipaumire, USA Ford Fellow, New York, NY Michelle Ellsworth, USA Knight Fellow, Boulder, CO John Jasperse, USA Brooks Hopkins Fellow, New York, NY Liz Lerman, USA Ford Fellow, Baltimore, MD Lar Lubovitch, USA Ford Fellow, New York, NY Morgan Thorson, USA Friends Fellow, Minneapolis, MN


Annie Baker, USA Collins Fellow, Brooklyn, NY Terrance Hayes, USA Zell Fellow, Pittsburgh, PA Campbell McGrath, USA Knight Fellow, Miami Beach, FL A. E. Stallings, USA Rockefeller Fellow, Athens, Greece Karen Tei Yamashita, USA Ford Fellow, Santa Cruz, CA


Tze Chun, USA Rockefeller Fellow, New York, NY Steve James, USA Smith Fellow, Oak Park, IL John Jota Leaños, USA Friends Fellow, San Francisco, CA James Longley, USA Ford Fellow, Seattle, WA Kara Oehler and Ann Heppermann, USA Rockefeller Fellows, Cambridge, MA and New York, NY Dee Rees, USA Knight Fellow, Long Beach, CA Kelly Reichardt, USA Tisch Fellow, New York, NY


Manuel Barrueco, USA Fontanals Fellow, Lutherville, MD Mary Ellen Childs, USA Friends Fellow, Minneapolis, MN Lila Downs, USA Cummings Fellow, New York, NY George Lewis, USA Walker Fellow, New York, NY Sean Shepherd, USA Van Dusen Fellow, New York, NY Sxip Shirey, USA Simon Fellow, New York, NY Holcombe Waller, USA Berresford Fellow, Portland, OR

Theater Arts

Lee Breuer, USA Ford Fellow, Brooklyn, NY John Collins, USA Donnelley Fellow, New York, NY Teresa Hernández, USA Rolón Fellow, San Juan, PR Nancy Keystone, USA Hoi Fellow, Los Angeles, CA Kirk Lynn, USA Klein Fellow, Austin, TX Octavio Solis, USA Ford Fellow, San Francisco, CA

Visual Arts

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, USA Guthman Fellow, Chicago, IL Lorraine O'Grady, USA Rockefeller Fellow, New York, NY John Outterbridge, USA Gracie Fellow, Los Angeles, CA Allen Ruppersberg, USA Oliver Fellow, Los Angeles, CA Carolee Schneemann, USA Rockefeller Fellow, New Paltz, NY Roger Shimomura, USA Ford Fellow, Lawrence, KS Mike Smith, USA Lowe Fellow, Johnson City, TN

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