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The Fellowship

The Fellowship

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A hopeful Kristin Beaver recently told friends that if she won a $25,000 Kresge Artist Fellowship, she thought it might change her life.

Now that the money is actually on its way, she's positive that it will."It means that I can spend a lot of concentrated time in the studio and acquire the supplies I need," said the elated 30-year-old Detroit painter, who teaches part-time.

"I've been working with next to nothing or going into debt.

I'm going to look into health insurance.

Mostly what it means is that I can concentrate on my work."The Troy-based Kresge Foundation today announced $450,000 in grants to 18 local visual artists.

The $25,000 no-strings fellowships, which inaugurate one of the country's most lucrative annual awards available to artists, are designed to give winners financial breathing room to allow them to focus on making art.Advocates say the fellowships could have a galvanizing effect on the local arts scene -- boosting public perception of an overlooked community, inspiring artists to create more ambitious work and offering them an incentive to remain here rather than leave for New York or elsewhere.

For those winners living without full-time faculty jobs or other support, the fellowship offers the promise of stability."This is one of the best things to happen to the city," said fellowship winner Susan Goethel Campbell.

"To support artists is such a difficult thing to do.

It's so low on the totem pole.

But it's so energizing for a community.

It's not always practical, but it does a lot to open minds, nurture creativity and change perceptions."The fellowships cut a broad swath through Detroit's visual artists, from emerging talents like Beaver, who paints energetic figurative portraits of her generation, to widely known veterans like Gordon Newton, 60, whose gritty sculptures helped define the Cass Corridor movement in the early '70s.

Nearly 400 artists applied; only residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties were eligible.Other winners include: painter Shiva Ahmadi, 34, whose art explores her Iranian heritage; Campbell, 53, and Lynne Avadenka, 54, who make prints, drawings and artist books; and Tyree Guyton, 53, whose outdoor Heidelberg Project in Detroit has earned international attention.$25+000
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