2021 Creative Fellowship: Call for Proposals

Providence Public Library is now accepting applications for our 2021 Creative Fellowship.

**PLEASE NOTE CORRECTED DATES!!! The 2021 Fellowship, and the 2021 Exhibition and Program Series, have been postponed for six months. The new application due date is APRIL 1, 2021. Timeline below has been adjusted accordingly.**

The 2021 Creative Fellow will create new, original work in the field of two-dimensional artwork or illustration related to the topic of Tomboys, as part of the Library’s 2021 exhibition and program series.

About the Creative Fellowship​

Providence Public Library offers an annual Creative Fellowship for an artist to create new work with a topical tie-in to the library’s exhibition and program series. Creative Fellows perform in-depth research in our historical collections, using images and text as source material and/or inspiration. For the 2020-2021 Fellowship season, we will be offering robust virtual research options, which are described in more detail in the “Research Process” section below. 

In addition to new work, a successful Creative Fellowship results in innovative, engaging programming and measurable instances of engagement and learning on the part of both the Fellow and other community members. Our hope is that a stipend alongside supported, immersive research allows the Fellow to explore new directions, topics, or methods in their own work and creative process. 

Each year’s fellowship focuses on a specified artistic discipline, rotating between visual art, performance, writing, and music/sound on a four-year cycle. 

In addition to new work, a successful Creative Fellowship results in innovative, engaging programming and measurable instances of engagement and learning on the part of both the Fellow and other community members. Our hope is that a stipend alongside supported, immersive research allows the Fellow to explore new directions, topics, or methods in their own work and creative process.

Read more about Special Collections, or make an appointment to meet with Special Collections staff.

About the Exhibition & Program Series

Co-curated by Providence Public Library and the Pembroke Center at Brown University, the 2021 exhibition will interrogate the history of cultural expectations and gender norms for girls and women, especially in the interplay between lifestyle, aesthetic, play, and self-identity. It will look at historical shifts in definitions of femininity and gender to understand how tomboys—including girls, cis women, and trans, non-binary & gender non-conforming women— have challenged cultural norms to have a dynamic influence on fashion, literature, sports, and popular culture.

The exhibition will be on display at the Library from October 1, 2021 - December 30, 2021. If the Library is not fully open to the public during this time period due to coronavirus restrictions, exhibit items and curator’s events will be made accessible to the public through digital means, in addition to being installed in the physical exhibition gallery. 

Corresponding educational and cultural programming will delve into broader topics around self-definition, identity, cultural norms and attitudes, and selfhood. Programming will seek innovative ways for participants to engage meaningfully with presenters, topics, and each other via digital means in order for programs to remain accessible to all library patrons during an uncertain time.

Fellowship and Research Process

The Special Collections research process is designed to be iterative and immersive, with the Fellow receiving extensive personal attention and support through consultations with librarians and curators, and assistance in selecting research materials to support and enrich their research interests.

Amid uncertainty about the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, PPL’s Special Collections has begun offering robust digital research options: virtual research consultations, remote browsing, and free reproductions. All of these services will be available to the 2021 Creative Fellow, as well as the following:

  • A virtual orientation and tour of Special Collections stacks to get a sense of the breadth and content of our collections
  • Regular virtual research visits via Zoom or other video conferencing software where the Fellow can meet with a librarian to discuss research needs and interests, view materials, ask questions, and request photos or scans of Special Collections materials
  • Opportunities to meet virtually with the 2021 exhibit curators to ask questions, view exhibit items, and discuss exhibit topics
  • Opportunities to connect with past Creative Fellows by, for instance, hosting a virtual studio visit

This year, the Fellow’s research will center around a close examination of exhibit items, augmented by other items that they select from our Special Collections, digital collections and databases, and circulating collections. 

If Special Collections is open for in-person research at any point during the 2021 Creative Fellowship, the Fellow is also welcome to expand their research with in-person visits to view and handle Special Collections materials. 

Fellowship Products

After performing research in Special Collections, the Creative Fellow will create new work in the field of two-dimensional artwork or illustration.   

Fellowship products will include: 

  • A two-dimensional artwork or illustration project.
  • An interactive workshop or artist’s talk open to members of the public.
  • Archival-quality documentation of the Fellow’s new work for inclusion in PPL’s Special Collections in the form of photographs, video, prints, or other paper-based or digital formats.
  • Ongoing documentation of the fellow’s research and creative process for PPL’s social media.

The Fellow’s two-dimensional artwork can take the form of a print, publication, framed or hang-able artwork, or something more inventive. (An artwork for the post-pandemic future?) The work can be presented digitally or installed in an indoor or outdoor location, but, as described in the “Review Process” section, we’re particularly interested in projects that are designed to reach the public in innovative ways and can be viewable and accessible regardless of where Rhode Island stands in its reopening process when the project is completed.

Stipend and Benefits

The 2021 Creative Fellow will receive a stipend in the amount of $1500, with an additional amount of up to $500 reimbursable for supplies or materials costs.

Other benefits include extensive research support from Special Collections staff as described above, with opportunities to build connections with librarians, archivists, and curators in other local libraries and museums. 

​Timeline

April 1, 2021: Application materials are due by 5 p.m.

April 15, 2021: Creative Fellow is selected; all applicants will receive notification of their status on or before this date.

May 2021 – September 2021: Creative Fellow performs self-paced research in the Library’s Special Collections. Fellow documents their research and creative process for inclusion in PPL’s social media. 

October 1, 2021: Tomboys exhibition opens. The Fellow’s two-dimensional artwork should be completed and viewable by the public on or around this date. 

October 2021 – December 2021: Artist’s talk/workshop will be scheduled during this window, with date based on the Fellow’s availability and preference.

December 30, 2021: Closing date for exhibition and program series; Fellow’s final products must be delivered on or before this date.

Eligibility

Application is open to practicing artists 16 years of age or older.

How to Apply

​All proposals must be submitted electronically by the end of the business day on April 1, 2021. Applications may be emailed to adiveglia@provlib.org.

A complete application consists of the following:

  • proposal in body of email
  • 3-6 work samples: scans, videos, photographs, or documents with or without images, either as email attachments or links (Youtube, Dropbox, GoogleDrive, etc.) 
  • description of experience (PDF) as email attachment
  • short artist biography (PDF) as email attachment

Proposal

​The written proposal should describe the applicant’s potential project with some specificity. (For example: “Inspired by images in the exhibit, I will create a series of illustrated portraits of nonbinary people that will be projected onto an exterior wall of the library at night for one month” or “I will create a coloring book with futuristic depictions of tomboys to help children re-envision their understandings of gender.”) We understand that projects grow and change during the research process, but want to know what you have in mind in terms of format and scope. The proposal should also address how the applicant would work within the Fellowship’s budgetary limitations, how the applicant envisions Special Collections materials influencing or being integrated into their work, how the finished project will be made accessible to or viewable by the public, and how the applicant’s project will relate to the theme of tomboys and identity. Clearly, planning for the upcoming season is challenging as we cannot predict whether Rhode Island will continue to reopen or will face new restrictions, so we are particularly interested in projects that are designed to reach the public in innovative ways and can be viewable and accessible regardless of where Rhode Island stands in its reopening process. 

Work samples

​Please submit 3-6 recent, representative samples of your work. These can be submitted as files attached to your proposal, or you can link to online images (for example, on an artist’s website) or to a Dropbox or GoogleDrive folder. If you would like to provide context or explanation for any of the work samples, feel free to attach a description in a PDF document.

Description of experience: A creative résumé or written narrative of the applicant’s knowledge and experience in two-dimensional artwork or illustration is required. 

Artist biography: Please submit a short artist biography to help us understand you, your context, your approach, and your inspiration.

Review Process

​The 2021 Creative Fellow will be selected based on the quality of work samples; the potential of the proposed project to be accessible and interesting to a diverse audience; and the connections between the proposed project and the exhibition theme/ PPL’s Special Collections materials.

Questions?

​Contact Angela DiVeglia at (401) 455-8076 or adiveglia@provlib.org.

Image from Freaks and Frolics of Little Girls by Josephine Pollard. New York: McLoughlin Bros, 1887.