Congratulations to our 2020 Artist Fellows!
About the Artist Fellowship
The Regional Arts Commission’s Artist Fellowship serves to foster and invest in the careers of St. Louis artists of all disciplines by providing funds to allow for more time and space to study, reflect, experiment, explore, practice, and create. The goal is to advance the individual artist’s creative journey. This annual Artist Fellowship recognizes artistic excellence and honors the work of seasoned artists, advances the work of mid-career artists, and nurtures the work of developing artists.
Irish Musician & Singer
Eimear Arkins comes from a small village on the west coast of Ireland called Ruan, in County Clare, but she has been living in St. Louis for the last number of years. She is an award-winning musician, singer, and dancer with 11 Irish music world championship titles to her credit.
Arkins has toured extensively with the international music organization Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann on concert tours throughout Ireland, Britain, North America, and Canada. She has also performed with the internationally renowned show Brú Ború and was part of the troupe that represented Ireland at World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. In August 2015, she traveled to World Expo in Milan with St. Louis Irish Arts, where she promoted not only Irish culture but also the expression of Irish culture worldwide. Eimear has toured throughout the U.S. and Ireland with The Paul Brock Band, Cherish the Ladies, and Tomaseen Foley’s A Celtic Christmas and is regularly seen performing with harpist and St. Louis native, Eileen Gannon.
As a qualified Irish music and dance instructor, Arkinshas been teaching at St. Louis Irish Arts for many years. She has performed and given workshops at festivals all over the world including Féile Séamus Creagh, Newfoundland; Catskills Irish Arts Week; Viljandi Pärimusmuusika Festival, Estonia; St. Louis Tionól; Canadian Celtic Celebration, and Festival Interceltique de Lorient, France. In June 2018, she released her debut album, What’s Next? and was awarded “Best Newcomer” from LiveIreland in 2019.
Photographer and Educator
Jennifer Colten is a photographer whose work explores the representation of landscape, social, cultural geographies, and environmental implications of land use. Addressing issues of erasure and visibility is central to her practice. Collaboration is essential to Colten’s work, where an interdisciplinary approach is part of a more extensive process of engaging with community, local histories, and public space.
Colten’s various projects have received support from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, a Ferguson Academic Seed Grant from Washington University in St. Louis, two Artist Support Grants from the Regional Arts Commission in St. Louis, and Creative Activity Support grants from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University.
In addition to private collections, Colten’s photographs have been included in many national and international institutions. These include the Denver Art Museum, the Museum für Fotographie, Braunschweig, Germany, the Museum Hundertwasser, Vienna, A.U., the Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogota, Museo de Antioquia, and the Bellas Artes Instituto, in Medellin, Colombia, S.A.
After receiving her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, Colten relocated to the Midwest and teaches photography at Washington University Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.
Shualee Cook has been writing theatre in the Midwest for so long that she’s starting to forget how to speak Californian. She was an inaugural member of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ Confluence Regional Writers’ Project, a winner of the 2020 Parity Commission, and has been a resident playwright at Tesseract Theatre in St. Louis and Stage Left Theatre in Chicago.
Productions, readings, and workshops include Cercle Hermaphroditos (Stage Left Theatre Summer Reading, Queer Village Reading Series), Earworm (Tesseract Theatre, Campfire Theatre Festival) An Invitation Out (Mustard Seed Theatre, Quantum Dragon Theatre, Benchmark Theatre Fever Dream Festival), Sunset Artists of the American West (2016 Chicago New Work Festival, About Face Theatre), Tempest In A Teapot (R-S Theatrics, 2016 Idle Muse Athena Festival), and The Geography of Nowhere (Mustard Seed Theatre).
She has been a finalist for the 2019 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, 2016 Jane Chambers Award, and the 2016 David Calicchio Award and a two-time finalist for the Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit.
Basil Kincaid is a post-disciplinary artist from St. Louis, Missouri. Kincaid studied drawing and painting at Colorado College, graduating in 2010. Kincaid has exhibited work in New York, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, St. Louis, and the Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago.
Kincaid has exhibited work internationally in London, Malmö, and Stockholm, Sweden, with Carl Kostyal, Taipei, Taiwan, Montpellier, France, and Accra Ghana. They also have work in the JP Morgan Permanent Art Collection. Recently Kincaid debuted their first museum performance at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis.
Kincaid’s work focuses primarily on Legacy, Heritage, Reclamation, Healing, Labor, and Self Harmony. Their next show opens this May in Rome at Galleria Anna Marra and is curated by Larry Ossei Mensah.
Designer and Interdisciplinary Artist
Kevin McCoy is a designer and interdisciplinary artist living and working in St. Louis. He is also half of the collaborative duo, WORK/PLAY, which he started with his wife, Danielle.
Graphic design has always been entrenched in McCoy’s practice due to his undergraduate studies. In 2004, he received his BFA degree in communication design from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. In May of 2019, McCoy received an MFA degree in Visual Art from the Sam Fox School of Art and Design, Washington University in St. Louis. His practice spans across several media disciplines, such as printmaking, product development, publication design, and other design-related assets. McCoy was recently nominated and selected for 30 Days of Design, organized by the St. Louis chapter of AIGA.
McCoy’s work has been exhibited both locally and nationally, including in Small Talk at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Overview is a Place at SPRING/BREAK Art Show in New York, and On & On at the Beard and Weil Galleries at Wheaton College. He has also participated in a variety of art book fairs, including Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair in Los Angeles, Chicago Art Book Fair in Chicago, and Fully Booked Art Fair in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
McCoy shares his knowledge through a variety of workshops and artist talks. Most recently, he, alongside his wife, was invited to speak at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. McCoy has also worked with a broad spectrum of clients such as Solé Bicycles, Glacéau, Tower Classic Tattoo, and Knife & Flag. He continues to work with a host of local and national art practitioners and institutions such as the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, The Pulitzer Foundation, The Luminary, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Performer, Choreographer, and Professor
Monica Newsam, president of Newsam Aerial Dance, discovered at age five her passion for movement and dance, marking the beginning of a life-long journey to define her singular artistic vision.
Newsam’s internationally acclaimed body of work in dance and choreography stretches across four continents. She received her BFA at the National School of Dance and Folklore in Havana, Cuba. Returning to Panama where she was born, Newsam co-created the first Panamanian contemporary dance company “Creadanza,” with her sister and constant collaborator, Graciela Newsam.
Newsam continued her exploration of international movement styles in India. She received a post-graduate diploma in Indian classical dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center of Kerala in India.
In 1999, inspired to take dance into the local community, the sisters co-founded Gramo Danse Company, Panama’s first aerial dance company. In continuing to perform and choreograph with Gramo Danse, Monica fulfills her dream of educating children about the power of dance.
With her 2003 MEd from Lindenwood University, Newsam began exploring aerial circus techniques, lending new perspectives to her artistic work. Currently, she teaches aerial dance at Webster University and choreographs for its dance ensembles. Since 2008, she has worked with artist Tom Brady (2019 Artist Fellow) and non-profit ANNONYArts in performance installations. In 2017, Newsam and her sister published the pioneering Aerial Dance Curriculum for Dancers, which they use while teaching workshops and master classes.
Throughout her extensive creative output, Monica seeks to expand global awareness of aerial dance as an exciting, expressive movement discipline.
Ceramic Artist & Educator
Norleen Nosri is a visual artist and educator who was born and raised in Malaysia. She received a BFA in ceramics and a minor in art history (2010) and an MFA in ceramics (2013) from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Her work has been featured in galleries and museums in Washington, Texas, Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri. Nosri led the children’s pottery program at the non-profit School of Service-Access Arts for seven years, including creating classes for special needs children and adults. She has taught ceramic arts, sculpture, and design for every age and skill level, including at the university level. Currently, she is a faculty member at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park, teaching ceramics and sculpture.
Nosri was awarded public art commissions by the City of Columbia, Missouri, in 2013 and Emerson (for the Florissant/Ferguson School District) in 2015. Her work, titled CommuniTea, involves public participation in tea ceremonies. Nosri received a letter of commendation from President Obama regarding her Emerson project, wherein he encouraged the student bodies of McCluer Senior High School and McCluer South Berkeley to continue to get involved in more service projects like CommuniTea, the kind that can bring meaningful change to the lives of others. She has been the artist-in-residence at the Missouri State Fair Fine Arts (2014), Ferguson/Florissant, MO School District (2015), Craft Alliance Center of Art & Design, St. Louis (2014-15) and Forsyth School, St. Louis, MO (2017). Nosri continues to teach, work as a studio artist, exhibit, and stay involved in the local arts community.
Asha Premachandra (Asha Prem)
Artistic Director, Dances of India
When Asha Prem landed in the U.S. in the 1960s, she never would have imagined she and her husband, the late Dr. Prem, would begin a classical Indian dance company that would be thriving well into the 21st century. Prem can’t recall a time when she wasn’t dancing. She started at the age of 7 but naturally had doubts about being able to continue in her new life in the U.S. because the Indian community was very small at the time.
But Prem and her husband took a chance and began Dances of India in 1977. Since then, she has taught not only numerous Indian students but also students from Chile to China in classes around the region including the St. Louis County Library System, Saint Louis Art Museum, Vaughn Cultural Center, the Scott Joplin House, and in the Carr Square Afterschool Program, St. Louis Public Schools. Prem received the 2018 St. Louis Visionary Award for Outstanding Teaching Artist and was recognized for this honor by Mayor Lyda Krewson.
One of Prem’s most significant accomplishments was teaching classical Indian dance to hearing-impaired children in the now-closed Gallaudet School for the Deaf. She has also derived great pleasure from working with the Urban League in St. Louis, along with dancing with seniors in many assisted-living centers, such as Cardinal Ritter Adult Daycare and The Gatesworth.
Prem has taught in the Washington University Performing Arts Department for 22 years. She has been invited to choreograph pieces several times for Washington University Dance Theatre. Dances of India presents a professional performance every autumn; 2020 will bring its 43rd annual show!
Photo Credit: Mike Oransky
Paul Tran is the recipient of the Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from Poetry Magazine & the Poetry Foundation and the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize. Their work appears in The New Yorker, Poetry, Good Morning America, NYLON, and elsewhere, including the Lionsgate movie Love Beats Rhymes (2017) with Azealia Banks, Common, and Jill Scott. They are the first Asian American since 1993 and the first transgender poet ever to win the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam, placing top 10 at the Individual World Poetry Slam and top 2 at the National Poetry Slam.
For their writing and teaching, Paul has received scholarships, residencies, and fellowships from Kundiman, Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation, Poets House, Lambda Literary Foundation, Napa Valley Writers Conference, The Home School, Vermont Studio Center, The Conversation Literary Festival, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Miami Writers Institute, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, the Eliza So Fellowship (from Submittable, Plympton, and the Writer’s Block), and Bread Loaf Writers Conference.
Tran earned a B.A. in 20th Century United States history from Brown University and an M.F.A. in poetry from Washington University in St. Louis, where they won the Howard Nemerov Prize, Dorothy Negri Prize, and Norma Lowry Memorial Award. They are the poetry editor at The Offing Magazine and senior poetry fellow at Washington University in St. Louis.
Novelist, Journalist, & Teaching Artist
Kea Wilson is a novelist, writer, and teaching artist. Her first book, We Eat Our Own, was published by Scribner in 2016 and received praise from the New York Times Book Review, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Publishers Weekly, The A.V. Club, and others.
Her short fiction, non-fiction, and artist profiles have appeared in Playboy, Lit Hub, ALIVE magazine, and elsewhere. She is also a senior editor and advocacy journalist at Streetsblog, a small-scale affordable housing developer, and a neighborhood activist. She lives in St. Louis.