St. Paul, Minn. — Visual artist Jenny Lion, who is a visiting assistant professor of media and cultural studies, is one of 42 artists from across the country to receive a 2021 Creative Capital Award. The winning artists, who were announced earlier this month, will receive up to $50,000 in funding, along with other services valued at another $50,000. 

“It’s a cliché, but yeah, I’m extremely grateful and surprised,” said Prof. Lion, who teaches classes that integrate film/video practice with history and theory, and first taught at Macalester in 2000.

The award provides Prof. Lion with the resources and support to complete her project, “untitled (Nevada, Utah),” which she describes as a body of video installation and cinematic works having to do with land-use, physical training and domestic preparedness, and strategies of witnessing at  historically resonant sites — military, settler, industrial and indigenous — primarily in Utah and Nevada. Most works were shot between 2005 and 2019, with a feature-length work currently being edited. The grant also supports future works.  

“I’m planning a new collaborative piece in Nevada, and hoping I can start shooting in the fall,” Prof. Lion said. But given the challenges of juggling her artistic work and teaching responsibilities while caring for young children during a pandemic, Prof. Lion said she expects the project to take longer than originally planned and that it may permutate. 

“Some of the work might move online, I’m certainly thinking about that,” she said. “But over the last nine months, I’ve also become a firm believer that not everything can or should ‘pivot.’ Some things should just wait.”

In the art world, a Creative Capital Award is a “huge deal,” said Michael Walsh, assistant curator/archivist for the Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The 42 artists in this year’s cohort were chosen from among more than 4,000 projects. 

“A Creative Capital Award is not easy to get, and it’s a true testament to somebody’s work history,” said Walsh.

Walsh also emphasized that the award includes significant development support that is otherwise unavailable to most working artists and is also extremely difficult to find from other institutions. 

According to a press release announcing the winners, a Creative Capital Award is meant to represent not just a one-time infusion of cash but the beginning of a long-term relationship between Creative Capital, the artist, and the broader artistic community, with the organization offering connections to professional advice across various fields, from law to finance, as well as that of other artists. The goal of the awards is to foster sustainable practices for artists on which they may build.

In winning this award, Prof. Lion joins a rarified group. Out of the 775 artists who have received a Creative Capital Award since its inception in 1999, just seven have resided in Minnesota.

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December 18 2020

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