Astraea Visual Arts Fund
Visual Arts Fund 2005-2006
The Astraea Lesbian Visual Arts Fund promotes the work of contemporary lesbian visual artists. Grants are awarded to artists working in an array of media including sculpture, painting, prints, mixed media and works on paper.
This year, Astraea’s Visual Arts Fund issued three grant awards of $2,500 each. A third grant has been made possible by Skip’s Sappho Fund, established at Astraea to honor Skip Neal, a lesbian artist who enjoyed a successful career in museum exhibition. The awards were determined by a distinguished panel of artists and art professionals via a rigorous selection process. This year's panel was composed of Nanzy Azara, Lisa Jones, Arlene Raven (1944-2006), Flavia Rando, and Carrie Yamaoka. Panel bios available at the bottom of this page.
The winners of the 2006 Astraea Lesbian Visual Arts Fund Awards are Jere Van Syoc, of Chicago, Illinois and Jennifer Pepper, of Cazenovia, New York. The winner made possible by the Skip Sappho Fund is Dawn Marie Guernsey, of Lawrence, Kansas.
Dawn Marie Guernsey
Dawn Marie Guernsey lives in Laurence, Kansas. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Pollock-Krasner Award, the Elizabeth Foundation Award, the Regional National Endowment Grant, the Missouri Biennial Award, and the National Endowment Individual Award. Her paintings, prints and drawings have been exhibited in commercial and museum venues across the U.S. She was recently appointed chair of the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Kansas/Lawrence, and joined the faculty as a tenured Full Professor in Painting.
Jennifer Pepper lives in Cazenovia, New York. She is an installation artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally in thirteen solo exhibitions, and has participated in over fifty group exhibitions since 1990. Her work has been seen in Ireland, Japan, Canada, and in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. She has been the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, New York State Council on the Arts, New York State Foundation for the Arts, and The Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. Pepper received her BFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art in 1987 and her MFA from The University of Connecticut in 1989.
Jere Van Syoc
Jere Van Syoc lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. At 71, still drives her 1968 VW Van and shows her Death Toys: The SUV Generation in public venues, as roadside attractions or "drive bys" whenever she finds a good spot in Chicago’s commuter routes or parks. More formally, she has a large collection of her "Toys" in Destination 1111, the largest open studio show in Western Michigan. Her work has been exhibited in cities including Chicago, Grand Rapids, Laguna Beach, and Los Angeles.
Nancy Azara is a sculptor who has shown her work in New York City, throughout the U.S., and abroad. Her spiritually infused sculpture is carved, assembled, and painted wood with gold and silver leaf and encaustic. Most recently, she completed a 6 1/2 foot x 28 foot total sculpture Hand Garden, Doctors Wall, a commission for the Robert Wood Johnson university Hospital in Hamilton NJ. Azara's works have been shown across the US, as well as in Europe and Italy. Azara has also published a book, Spirit Taking Form: Making a Spiritual Practice of Making Art, (Red Wheel/ Weisers) and an essay, "In Pursuit of the Divine" for The Kensington and Winchester Papers: Painting, Sculpture and the Spiritual Dimension (Onerios Books). She was a founder of the New York Feminist Art Institute (NYFAI) in 1979, where she was on the board and taught a workshop called "Consciousness Raising, Visual Diaries, Art Making" for many years. Azara is also a founding member of the Astraea Visual Arts Committee. She lives in NYC with her partner, psychiatrist and painter Darla Bjork.
In 2002, Lisa Jones burst into the Brooklyn art scene creating a buzz as one of the few women of color working with metal. Now known as a well-respected metal sculptor, Jones fuses African culture and design with a modernist sensibility. In her brief career, Jones has been featured in several one-women shows and group shows. She has also been commissioned by numerous residential and commercial venues in Brooklyn and throughout the Tri-State area. Her work has appeared at the Ashanti Origin, P.C.O.G. Gallery, Galapagos Art Space and more. In November 2005, Jones premiered Sipping Tea at the Danny Simmons Corridor Gallery, a tribute to 11 extraordinary African American women who have been an inspiration and provided hope to millions of people. With lives expanding over 100 years, Sipping Tea is a lens into 11 dynamic women sitting for tea and conversation. Most Brooklyn's Borough Hall presented 4 pieces from the Sipping Tea Exhibit during Black History Month. Lisa is currently a Program Consultant with the Girl Scouts USA.
Flavia Rando is an art historian who teaches in the Women's Studies Program at Brooklyn College, the City University of New York. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History and Women's Studies from Rutgers University and has taught at Rutgers University, Purdue University, and the University of New Mexico. A Lesbian (art) activist since 1969, she was a member of the Gay Liberation Front and Radicalesbians. She has been co-chair of the Queer Caucus of the College Art Association, is a founding member of the Astraea Visual Arts Committee, and has initiated the Project for LGBT Undergraduates at CUNY. She is the co-editor of the Special Issue of the Art Journal: Gay and Lesbian Presence in Art and Art History and has lectured and published widely on contemporary art and queer, feminist, and ethnic identifications.
Arlene Raven (1944-2006), was the 2002 recipient of the College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinction in Art Criticism and the 2004 Monette/Horwitz prize for distinguished achievement, has published seven books on contemporary art and numerous critical and literary essays. A founder of Women's Caucus for Art, the Los Angeles Women's Building, the Feminist Studio Workshop, the Lesbian Art Project, and Chrysalis Magazine, Raven was a leader and laborer in the Feminist Art Movement for more than thirty years. Raven has lectured and taught in art schools and universities such as the California Institute of the Arts, Yale, Cranbrook, New York University, and Parsons School of Design; most recently, she served as Critic-in-Residence for the Rinehart Graduate School of sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Carrie Yamaoka is a visual artist living and working in New York City. She has had numerous solo shows including at Debs & Co., New York, and Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels. Her work has been included in exhibitions in the US and internationally, including at Artists Space, New York; the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art; The Museum of Modern Art, Arnhem, Holland; "Vanishing Point" at the Wexner Center, "Mirror, Mirror" at Mass MOCA, and in "Extreme Abstraction" at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY. She was a member of fierce pussy, a lesbian public art collective active in the early 90's in NYC.
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice works for social, racial and economic justice in the U.S. and internationally. Our grantmaking and philanthropic advocacy programs help lesbians and allied communities challenge oppression and claim their human rights.