Joan Mitchell Fellowship Background Information


What is the Joan Mitchell Foundation?

Established in 1993, the Joan Mitchell Foundation expands awareness of the abstract artist Joan Mitchell’s life and pioneering work and fulfills her wish to support and provide opportunities for visual artists. Through its work, the Foundation affirms and amplifies artists’ essential contributions to society.

What is the Joan Mitchell Fellowship?

Established in 2021, the Joan Mitchell Fellowship annually recognizes and supports fifteen (15) US-based artists working in the evolving fields of painting and sculpture. The Fellowship seeks to acknowledge individuals whose work contributes in important ways to artistic and cultural discourse, who are deserving of greater national recognition, and for whom the receipt of this award would be meaningful and impactful. We are committed to acknowledging artists who reflect the diverse world in which we live, and actively encourage nominators, jurors, and facilitators to think about the participation of artists of color and indigenous artists; women artists; LGBTQIA+ artists; artists with disabilities; artists who have come to their practice through non-traditional career paths; and artists living outside of city centers.

The Fellowship provides artists with $60,000 in unrestricted funds distributed over the course of five years, interwoven with flexible, dedicated engagement, training, and network-building opportunities, tailored by staff based on the artists’ interests and suggestions. These include in-person convenings; workshops on finance, legacy planning, and self-advocacy; and consultations with arts professionals, as well as peer interactions both within each yearly cohort and encompassing the larger inter-cohort group. The depth of each artist’s participation directly impacts their experience of the Fellowship. Artists are also eligible for a residency at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans following the completion of their Fellowship.

Who is the Fellowship for?

To be eligible, individuals should self-identify as a professional contemporary artist for whom painting or sculpture is a primary medium. The Foundation takes a broad definition of these forms; for example, installation, drawing, and printmaking are considered related forms. This does generally exclude artists working solely in photography, media, new media, and performance.

Artists must reside and work in a US state or territory; non-US citizens are eligible if they are able to receive funds in their own name or have a fiscal sponsor. There is no preferred age range, career stage, or educational requirement for this award; however, artists may not be enrolled in an arts-degree granting program at the moment of nomination or acceptance.

Previous recipients of the Joan Mitchell Fellowship or the Foundation’s Painters & Sculptors Grants are not eligible for this program; nor are artist duos or collectives.


How can an artist apply to the Joan Mitchell Fellowship?

Eligible artists will be invited directly by Foundation staff to apply following a nomination process. Nominators are themselves artists, arts writers, curators, museum professionals, and more, invited by JMF staff to put forward the names of two individuals who align with the above mentioned criteria. Nominators are expected to keep their nominations and their role confidential. The invitation to apply is not transferable to another artist.

Invited artists must submit an online application through the Submittable platform. This application requests contact information, 10 work samples, an artist statement, a short bio, a statement on the potential impact of the award, a statement about intended engagement with the Fellowship cohort, and optional demographic information.

How are the recipients chosen?

Submitted applications are reviewed by a jury of five members, representing different vantage points from the arts community (a combination of artists, curators, and arts administrators).

In the first round, the jury individually scores the applications based on the work samples and artist statements presented. In the second round, the top 50 (approximately) applications are reviewed as a group, this time including the narrative statements, the artists’ resume or CV, as well as the nominator’s supporting statement (shared anonymously), which the jury will review in tandem with the artist’s full application. The final group of fifteen artist fellows is ultimately selected by the jury unanimously.

What is the timeline for application and notification of candidates?

Artists are invited to apply in early March with a deadline in late April (exact dates vary by calendar year). The jury meets in mid-summer to make their selections, and award notification as well as an official public announcement of award recipients usually take place in August.


Jurors for the Joan Mitchell Fellowship are asked to consider the following criteria in their assessment and decision-making:

Artistic Vision

Artists should clearly communicate their creative intentions and process, demonstrate their mastery of painting and/or sculpture (and how their work may push those disciplines forward), and articulate ideas, goals, and thoughts for the future that are exciting and attainable.

Impact of the Award

The artist should be at a pivotal point in their practice where the Fellowship would help with cultivating and investing in their creative and professional career. Applicants should articulate how the award would be a moment for affirmation and/or amplification of their current practice.

Community of Practice

The artist should show an interest in intentionally engaging with their peers and the Fellowship’s programmatic offerings, and demonstrate both what they would give and what they would gain from being part of the learning community of Joan Mitchell Fellows.


What is the time commitment involved?

Selected artists will be invited to participate in two virtual orientations in the Fall following the public announcement of their cohort, and two 3-4 day in-person convenings in the subsequent two summers, with all expenses paid. The remainder of the schedule will vary each year but will include the offering of 4–6 online workshops, 4-8 peer-led sessions on topics suggested by Fellows, two one-on-one consultations with experts in the field, and other opportunities to meet with the team and peers as needed. We will share a schedule for each year’s opportunities with Fellows, and we will work with all artists to ensure they are able to take the most advantage possible of the offerings. None of the opportunities are mandatory, but they are strongly encouraged to make the best out of the experience.

Can artists with busy schedules still apply to the Fellowship?

The convenings, workshops, and peer-led artist exchange components of the Fellowship are designed to be as time-flexible as possible, understanding that artists are people with varied and busy schedules. We encourage everyone invited to apply as we will work with Fellows to ensure they are able to access as much of the programming as possible. If in doubt, the Artist Programs team can be reached out at any point to answer questions.

Can artists with various access needs apply/participate?

While applications will be invited through Submittable, the Foundation will offer alternative formats through which to submit their application if necessary. Please contact Lilia Sterling, Artist Programs Manager, Grants at [email protected] or Sarah Dhobhany, Artist Programs Associate, at [email protected].

Anyone can participate in the Joan Mitchell Fellowship. Upon request, we are able to provide ASL, closed captioning, wheelchair access, among other accommodations. If a potential participant has questions about their ability to participate, please contact Lilia.


Does the Foundation collect demographic information as part of the Fellowship outreach and selection process?

Throughout the Fellowship process, the Foundation collects information from nominators, applicants, and jurors on age, racial/ethnic identities, gender identity, LGBTQIA+ identity, educational attainment, and anyone who self-identifies as having a disability. The information helps us gain a better sense of who we are reaching in our nomination-based Fellowship process.

How does the Foundation use demographic information that is collected?

Demographic data collected about nominators and jurors are used as a tool for assessing our outreach efforts to ensure the pool reflects the diversity of the United States. This information is not shared, as both nominators and jurors work anonymously and confidentially.

During the selection process, the demographic questions answered by artists will be visible to the jury during the review process, providing the jury with a sense of the diversity of the cohort being selected. We may share anonymous demographic statistics publicly when we announce the selected artists, as well as with our Board and other specific constituencies. We do not share personal demographic data publicly, beyond anything included in public materials that are reviewed and approved by selected Fellows.