Viveca Vázquez and Jorge González Santos winners of the 2022 USA Fellowship

United States Artists (USA) is pleased to announce its 2022 USA Fellows. This year, sixty-three artists across ten creative disciplines will receive unrestricted $50,000 cash awards. The 2022 fellows include Puerto Ricans artists Viveca Vázquez in dance and Jorge González in visual arts.

The award honors their creative accomplishments and supports their ongoing artistic and professional development. The 2022 USA Fellows class is the largest in the organization’s sixteen-year history. USA Fellowships are awarded to artists at all stages of their careers and from all areas of the country through a rigorous nomination and panel selection process. Fellowships are given in the following disciplines: Architecture & Design, Craft, Dance, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, and Writing.

“After another year facing the challenges of the pandemic, artists once again demonstrate their deep commitment to uplifting those around them and nurturing their communities,” Lynnette Miranda, program director of USA, said in a statement. “The 2022 USA Fellows were selected for their remarkable artistic vision, their commitment to community, and the potential to influence future generations.”

Representing twenty-three states and Puerto Rico, the 2022 USA Fellows span various geographies and career stages, but all of the artists offer a bold vision. Social practice, education, and pedagogy are particularly important to this year’s group, appearing across almost every discipline. The makeup of this year’s class also represents a growing commitment to elevate and amplify underrepresented voices. For example, the 2022 cohort boasts the largest number of Native and Indigenous artists (20% of the awardee class) and disabled individuals (17% of the group) in the Fellowship’s history. What’s more, the Architecture & Design category includes mostly practitioners of color, and this year’s Film discipline is characterized by compelling stories about immigrant and post-immigrant experiences from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Artists from New England, all of whom identify as BIPOC, represent 10% of the 2022 USA Fellowship pool.

Viveca Vázquez (b. 1950) is a pioneer of experimental dance and performance in Puerto Rico and a founding member of Pisotón (est. 1979). Vázquez is also a founder of Taller de Otra Cosa (Something Else Workshop), now headed by Teresa Hernández, which has established particular forms of making and producing contemporary dance concerts and events.

She has received commissions from dance Theater Workshop, PS122, Danspace, and MoMA PS1, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. In 1985, she began teaching dance in the Drama Department at Universidad de Puerto Rico, a position she has used to support and develop her creative work and production-scale capacities. She was later awarded a position as a performance artist at the College of General Studies, where she is now full professor and teaches entry-level humanities courses as well as the Gender and Performance course she developed for the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

In 2013, the Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art held a retrospective of her thirty-year career as a dancer, choreographer, and performer, accompanied by a bilingual catalogue with critical texts. This marked the first time the museum acknowledged dance as a contemporary art and celebrated movement and a movement artist.

From 1989 to 1996, Vázquez, along with Merián Soto, coproduced and codirected Rompeforma, the first international experimental interdisciplinary art festival in Puerto Rico, which had a big impact on artists and audiences alike. Presently, Vázquez and Soto are developing a documentary based on the festival, funded by the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jorge González Santos calls on Borikua (Puerto Rican) material culture in his practice to bridge Indigenous and modern ways of living and making.

In response to the lack of everyday and academic knowledge and spaces for Borikua practices and history, in 2014, Santos established Escuela de Oficios, a space for collective learning and self-directed education. Its activities include mapping, documenting, and engaging in artisanal techniques, as well as a mobile program that includes conversations, workshops, and exhibitions.

Through these activities, distribution of knowledge — ranging from oral history, ancestral techniques, and collective practices — is articulated and shared with and among participants. From this approach, connections on self-managed education models are being explored, emphasizing convivial and communal forms of production.

Determined to support community regeneration, Escuela de Oficios advocates and promotes the work of indigenous knowledge holders of the Borikua archipelago, a relationship fostered by our craft community.

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