Several Alumni, Students, and Faculty Named 2021 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellows

BY Nicole Saldarriaga, August 6, 2021

The New York Foundation for the Arts recently announced the recipients of the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Program, a coveted award that has been administered annually for 36 years with support from the New York State Council on the Arts. The NYFA have selected Writing alumna Leila Mohr '20 as a Fiction fellow, Visual Arts alumnus Esteban Cabeza de Baca '14 as a Painting fellow, incoming Visual Arts student Alison Nguyen as a Video/Film fellow, and former faculty member Leeza Meksin as an Interdisciplinary fellow.

This highly competitive fellowship program awards cash grants to artists working in 15 different disciplines, with five disciplines being recognized per year "on a triennial basis." This year's disciplines are Fiction, Folk/Traditional Arts, Interdisciplinary Work, Painting, and Video/Film. Each recipient of the fellowship will be awarded an unrestricted cash grant of $7,000 to support their work in these fields, as well as a range of professional benefits from NYFA. 


Also recognized by the NYFA are fifteen finalists, who do not receive cash grants but are given access to a host of professional services. Writing alumnus Malcom Hansen '14 was named a Fiction Finalist, and Visual Arts alumnus Kiyan Williams '19 was named an Interdisciplinary Finalist. 


Michael L. Royce, Executive director of the NYFA, said, "We are proud to partner with NYSCA to offer unrestricted grants to artists of all disciplines across New York State, and are especially proud to do so after a harrowing year that has impacted many in our creative community. We hope that the financial support and recognition that this program offers spurs new creative growth for the artists, and we look forward to seeing, hearing, and experiencing their work in the years to come." 


Mara Manus, Executive Director of the NYSCA, added, "After more than a year of devastation across our sector, artists have continued to be the backbone of New York's spirit, resilience, and recovery. The work of artists is the connective tissue that binds the health of our State. On behalf of the entire NYSCA team, we are proud to continue to partner with NYFA to administer this vital support for artists in service of their vision and voice at all levels of their artistic development." 


Leila Mohr earned her MFA from Columbia University and her BA from Sarah Lawrence College. She currently lives in Brooklyn and is at work on a novel.


Born in San Ysidro, CA in 1985, Esteban Cabeza de Baca received a BFA from Cooper Union, School of the Arts in 2010 and an MFA from Columbia University in 2014. He currently lives and works in Queens, NY.


Alison Nguyen is a New York-based artist whose work spans video, installation, performance, and new media. Nguyen received her BA from Brown University. Her screenings include: e-flux, Ann Arbor Film Festival, International Film Festival Oberhausen, CPH:DOX, Crossroads presented by SF MoMA/SF Cinemateque, Channels Festival International Biennial of Video Art, True/False Film Festival, Open City Documentary Festival, Microscope Gallery, Tai Kwun Contemporary, and Black Maria Film Festival. Her work has been exhibited at The International Studio & Curatorial Program, AC Gallery Beijing, The Dowse Art Museum, Hartnett Gallery, La Kaje, and The University of Oklahoma, Contemporary Art and Digital Fair, Miami, among others. 


Leeza Meksin is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist working in painting, installation, public art and multiples. Born in the former Soviet Union, she immigrated to the United States with her family in 1989. Her work investigates parallels between conventions of painting, architecture and our bodies. 


Malcolm Hansen was born at the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers in Chattanooga, TN. Adopted by two Civil Rights activists, his family lived in Morocco, Spain, Germany, and various parts of the United States. Hansen left home as a teenager and after two years of high school education, went to Stanford, earning a BA in philosophy. He worked for a few years in the software industry in California before setting off for what turned out to be a decade of living, working, and traveling throughout Central America, South America, and Europe. He currently lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.


Kiyan Williams is a visual artist and writer from Newark, NJ who works fluidly across performance, sculpture, video, and 2d realms. Rooted in a process-driven practice, they are attracted to quotidian, unconventional materials and methods that evoke the historical, political, and ecological forces that shape individual and collective bodies.