ArtsAccelerator Grant

Paintings from "Assembled" at Artspace
photo: Alyssa Kelley

ArtsAccelerator Grant

What is ArtsAccelerator?

ArtsMemphis is pleased to offer six $5,000 ArtsAccelerator Grants in 2020 to visual artists living and working in Shelby County. The ArtsAccelerator Grants are incentive grants for visual artists who are at a critical juncture in their careers and are intended to deepen and expand artistic work to advance the grant recipient’s artistic accomplishments.  The ArtsAccelerator Program supports artists working in any media, including painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, installation art, performance art, video art, or social practice.

The ArtsAccelerator Program enables ArtsMemphis to demonstrate the value of visual artists’ work to our region by supporting working artists in their artistic practice.  We believe this program contributes to the vitality of our artistic community and helps Memphis attract and retain a vibrant creative class.

Funding decisions are made by a panel of judges living and working outside of Memphis & Shelby County. The panel of judges is identified by members of the ArtsMemphis’ Artist Advisory Council. Information on this year’s judges is below.

ArtsMemphis values inclusion and equity.  When evaluating applications, judges will be instructed to consider historically underserved populations.  Minimally two of the six ArtsAccelerator Grants, will be awarded to artists of color.  Also, minimally one of the artists awarded a grant will be an emerging artist.

The FY20 ArtsAccelerator Grant is now closed.



Nic Aziz

Nic Brierre Aziz is an interdisciplinary artist and curator born and raised in New Orleans, LA. He is currently cultivating his community focused art practice as the Director of Programs for New Orleans based multi-arts organization Antenna and as Community Engagement Curator for the New Orleans Museum of Art. In addition to this, he also manages the Haitian Cultural Legacy Collection - a collection of over 400 pieces of artwork that was started by his maternal grandfather in 1944. Nic is also a Salzburg Global Fellow. He has contributed to publications such as HuffPost, and AFROPUNK and his work has been featured by The Oxford American, The Associated Press and The Alternative UK. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College and a Master of Science degree from The University of Manchester (UK).    

Faythe Levine

Faythe Levine is the director of the Arts/Industry program at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center where she is responsible for the development and administration of the residency program hosted at Kohler Co. and curating related exhibitions at the Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Her ongoing priority is creating work and programing that is approachable and accessible to a large audience, advocating for creativity as a vehicle towards personal independence and empowerment. Her most widely known projects, Sign Painters (2013) and Handmade Nation (2009), both feature length documentaries with accompanying books published by Princeton Architectural Press, have toured extensively in venues such as the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Arts and Design, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Victoria and Albert Museum

Michael Menchaca

Born in 1985 in San Antonio, TX, Menchaca received his BFA from Texas State University in 2011, and his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015. He has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (ME), Vermont Studio Center (VT), The Wassaic Project (NY), The Segura Arts Studio (IN), and The Studios at MASS MoCA (MA). Exhibitions include The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (AR), The McNay Art Museum (TX), The Davis Museum (MA), North Carolina Museum of Art (NC), The Chrysler Museum of Art (VA), The Gilcrease Museum (OK), The Contemporary Austin (TX), and the IPCNY (NY). He was a Visual Arts Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center from 2015 - 2016 in Provincetown, MA, and is a recipient of the 2018 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Fund for the Arts Grant. Through 2020, he is co-curating the New York/San Antonio exhibition Xicanx: New Visions with Suzy González. Menchaca lives and works in San Antonio, TX.




ArtsMemphis' ArtsAccelerator grant program is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Hyde Family Foundations, Dianne and Myron Mall, Renasant Bank, and many other generous individuals.

2019 Grantees

Meet our 2019 ArtsAccelerator Grantees

Sharon Havelka

Sharon Havelka was born and raised in Memphis, TN and graduated with a BFA from Memphis College of Art in 1994. She has been continually producing art in multiple media, honing the skills of painting, quilting, bookmaking, and sculpture. She has also been an ICU RN for the past 10 years. As both an artist and a nurse, she combines the physiology of the human body and brain with the elements and meanings of art. For example, she conveys circulation with color, perfusion with light and dark values, and breath with composition and negative space. She mixes recycled materials with found objects, like her family’s old clothes with sidewalk treasures. She also uses egg yolk and matcha tea for paint, and coffee, black tea, or onion skin to stain. She creates forms that evoke both the imaginary and the biological fusing craft, science, and art.


Jed Jackson

Jed Jackson was born in Fayetteville Arkansas in 1954. A long time Professor of Painting at the University of Memphis, Jackson has been painting, exhibiting and teaching for more than 50 years. Paintings by Jed Jackson have been exhibited in New York, London, Rennes, France, Amsterdam, Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis and many other cities in America and Europe. During his creative career more than 15 fellowships and grants have been awarded to Jackson including the Arts/Midwest NEA in 1992 and The Tennessee Arts Council Individual Artists grant in 2006.


Chuck Johnson

Chuck Johnson is currently the Adjunct Professor of Art at the University of Memphis and has taught at the Memphis College of Art, Rhodes College and Prince George's Community College in Largo, MD. He has exhibited his work in many exhibitions locally, nationally and abroad.


Lacy Mitcham Veteto

Lacy Mitcham is a 3D artist who received a Masters of Fine Arts in 2018 from University of Memphis. Her work is focused around the human body from a female perspective, representing it abstractly as an import-export system, using many materials to achieve this purpose including textiles, wood, metal, ceramic, and wire through methods of sculpture, wearable art, and installation. She is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis in the Department of Art teaching foundations courses, the Fashion Merchandising department, and at Rhodes College Department of Art and Art History, teaching sculpture. Lacy is also an Emerging Artist with Young Arts Contemporary and an Emerging Designer for Memphis Fashion Design Network.


Aisha Raison

Aisha Raison is a filmmaker/photographer and poet who has used both skills as a multimedia artist and activist in the Memphis area. Raised in Ripley, Tennessee in the Spiller Hill neighborhood, she credits her parents for the exposure of Womanism, jazz and art at a young age: it was her father who taught her photography at 3 and her mother who gave her books and art outside of her small town. Since 2016, Aisha has merged her imagination, poetry and vision into award winning films such as Girls Like Me: a self/love story and Dancin' to the Blue Moon as well as using her skills as an activist photographer throughout the city of Memphis, a mentor with groups such as Hattiloo Theatre's Write On Speak Out and tour guide with Slavehaven Underground Railroad Museum.


Juan Rojo

Juan Rojo was born in Valladolid, Spain in 1977. He graduated from the University of Salamanca (Spain) with a degree in Fine Arts and he obtained his Masters degree in painting and video at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is represented in Spain by Rodrigo Juarranz Gallery and by Jay Etkin Gallery in the United States. He has exhibited extensively in the USA and Europe and he is currently living in Memphis, Tennessee.

2018 Grantees

Meet our 2018 ArtsAccelerator Grantees

MB is a Texas native performance & interactive installation artist.  With a BA in Art History and a BA in Religious Studies from Rhodes College, MB has continually explored the origins and functions of creativity & community.  Confronting moments of contention, confusion, and chaos, MB curates opportunities for others to get involved, becoming co-creators of a shared experience.  The approachable yet agitating nature of their work is meant to encourage compassionate investigation of all experiences we

might encounter or create.  


Maritza Davila is Professor of Fine Arts at the Memphis College of Art and the head of printmaking, where she has taught drawing and printmaking since 1982. Professor Davila has exhibited around the world and has works in collections in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. She has received awards in the U.S., Puerto Rico and France. Her work is included in collections at the National Library Madrid, Spain, National Library of Paris France, Museum of Art and History at the University of Puerto Rico, National Library of Congress in Washington DC among others.  She is the owner of the Atabeira Press studio and has collaborated with poet Kay Lindsey and visual artist Indrani Nayar-Gall from India on various art projects. She was also visiting artist at University of Bilbao, Spain in 2011. Residencies include Taller ACE in Buenos Aires Argentina on 2011 and the University of Illinois Normal Editions, on 2016.



Wilbert Mays is a musician and performance artist currently based in Memphis, TN. Wilbert's work explores corporeal romanticism, sonic extremes, and the dissolution of genre.  Through his project Cities Aviv, Wilbert has garnered critique from outlets such as the The New York Times, The Commercial Appeal, Pitchfork, The Fader and Wax Poetics. In recent years, he has held solo performances in Memphis at The Brooks Museum and TOPS Gallery. The end of 2017 saw him on a lengthy performance exhibition in Europe, with performances at Praha: Forum For Architecture and Media in Brno, Czech Republic as well as Theater Bremen in Bremen, Germany among others.  In 2015, Wilbert collaborated closely with filmmakers Mati Diop and Manon Lutanie to score their short video piece "Liberian Boy." After its opening at Treize Galerie in Paris, France, "Liberian Boy" went on to be shown at spaces in New York, London, and Los Angeles.  Wilbert is currently focused on multiple upcoming projects including Total Works which he started last year. Total Works is a creative house that operates with attention to output from experimental and outsider artists. 


Andrea Morales is Peruvian-born (1984), Miami-bred and Memphis-based: after years of existing in spaces heavy with the constructs of socioeconomic binaries, her work moves with the hope of observing the things in between. A decade in community newspapers taught her to value both the ceremonial and the mundane while a graduate education in visual storytelling at Ohio University helped her think about giving that life off the printed page. As an independent photographer in the Delta South, Andrea focuses on editorial work through a journalistic and documentary lens.





Catherine Patton is a photographer from Memphis, TN. She graduated from the University of Memphis with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism. After working behind the camera in her classes, she became fond of the composition and creation of images. However, her interest in more artistic expression led her from shooting video to a strong interest in still photography.  In her work, Catherine looks for elements that present her subjects honestly and vulnerably in an effort to establish an empathetic relationship between her subject and her viewer. Ultimately, she hopes that her work evolves to inspire further introspection, unearth inspiration, and create meaningful conversation.  Catherine is intrigued by and works to create photography that challenges her to see beyond an image.  Catherine’s work has been published in The Commercial Appeal (print and digital), The Memphis Flyer (digital) and CNTRABN Magazine (print and digital publication by The Collective). She has also presented her work at the Orange Mound Gallery at Fiber: A Tribute to Black Femininity, an art exhibition by The Collective. Her work will also be shown in The Collective’s residency exhibition in April 2018.

Contact Us

If you have questions, please contact our Grants and Initiatives Department:

Tracy Lauritzen Wright, Chief Operating Officer [email protected]

Colleen McCartney, Grants and Initiatives Manager [email protected]

ArtsMemphis (901) 578-2787


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