A fund supporting local women artists is now in its second year, and has announced the selection of two Madison Latina artists as the recipients of grants to help further their work.
The Women Artists Forward Fund aims to help combat inequities in the art community and push for gender parity in the arts.
On Tuesday, the fund announced the recipients of this year’s grants. In addition to five finalists, who received $1,000 to further their work, two local Latina artists received $10,000 in grants.
“To be honest, I’m still in shock,” Barrios says.
That’s Adriana Barrios. She primarily works in a variety of printmaking techniques and photography, with her pieces exploring issues of climate change and class disparities. She says the grant will pay for new equipment and a research trip back to California, her home state.
“You need equipment and tools to make the art happen,” Barrios said.
Angelica Contreras, a Mexican-American mixed media artist, says her work is about the complexities of personal and cultural identity.
“Our culture is a mix of pre-Hispanic, of Spanish,” Contreras said, “of actually many things that we relate to being Mexican.”
Contreras also plans to invest in new equipment, such as cameras and computers, and hopes to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico to begin research on her next series.
2020 marks the second year for the Women Artists Forward Fund. It’s co-founders are Bird Ross and Brenda Baker, two Madison artists themselves. Ross and Baker say they created the Forward fund after they found the lack of equity in the arts for women to be disheartening, and decided to try and do something about it.
“We had never done anything like this before,” Ross said, “and people, including ourselves, thought we were totally nuts doing this.”
This year marks the second annual Forward Fund, and Baker says they’ve raised over $500,000 in total.
With the pandemic dragging on, Baker says the arts in Madison have suffered drastically. Barrios says she stopped working when the pandemic first began due to the uncertainty surrounding the virus.
“I wasn’t making anything for three or four months,” Barrios said.
Contreras says many artists, herself included, had to cancel projects and trips. But she also says she began to see people work around the pandemic.
“I have found many artists have opened their own studios and workshops and invited people through zoom,” Contreras said.
The fund says representation of women artists in Wisconsin was bad before the pandemic. The state is ranked at the bottom of the list for arts funding. A report from the National Association of State Art Agencies finds Wisconsin spent just 14 cents per capita on the arts. Our neighbor, Minnesota, spends $7.22 per capita on the arts.
Contributions to the Women Artists Forward Fund can be made at https://www.madisongives.org/womenartists.