3 L.A. artists are among the first winners of $5 million Latinx Artist Fellowship program

A man stokes branches that are on fire while people look on.
Rafa esparza, “building: a simulacrum of power,” performance still, the Bowtie Project, Clockshop, Los Angeles, 2014. Esparza is one of 15 visual artists selected for the inaugural Latinx Artist Fellowship.
(Dylan Schwartz)

Three L.A. artists are among 15 people receiving $50,000 each as the inaugural winners of the newly established Latinx Artist Fellowship, a program administered by the U.S. Latinx Art Forum with support from the Andrew W. Mellon and Ford foundations.

The program — the first of its kind on this financial scale — was established to address what the Latinx Art Forum has called a systemic lack of support for Latinx visual artists. Each year, for a period of five years, the fellowship will provide funds to the 15 artists with the goal of supporting emerging, midcareer and established artists in equal measure. The total funding for the multiyear initiative is $5 million.

According to the Latinx Art Forum, annual philanthropic funding for Latinx arts and culture endeavors dipped to $13 million in 2019, down from $39 million in 2013. During the pandemic, the need for additional support for the arts grew. The Latinx Artist Fellowship seeks to heighten the visibility and impact of Latinx visual artists by funding what it has identified as some of the most compelling Latinx artists working in America. Fellows were selected from more than 200 nominees by a jury of art historians, scholars and curators


The inaugural class of fellows includes artists from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as queer and gender nonconforming artists. They are: Elia Alba, Celia Álvarez Muñoz, Adriana Corral, Coco Fusco, Yolanda López, Miguel Luciano, Guadalupe Maravilla, Carlos Martiel, Michael Menchaca, Delilah Montoya, Vick Quezada, Juan Sánchez.

The list includes three artists who live and work in Los Angeles: Carolina Caycedo, rafa esparza and Christina Fernández.

Caycedo is a multidisciplinary artist who focuses on the environment and the impact, importance and scarcity of shared resources, particularly water. She was born to Colombian parents and has been shown at the Whitney, Venice, Havana and São Paulo art biennials, as well as in the Hammer Museum’s 2018 Made in L.A. biennial.

Esparza is a multidisciplinary and performance artist born and raised in Pasadena. His parents were immigrants from Durango, Mexico. Esparza is known for bringing outside elements, such as adobe bricks, inside museums, and for staging his performance practice on the streets of L.A., including in Santee Alley and in Chinatown.

Fernández is a photographer and associate professor and cochair of the photography department at Cerritos College in Norwalk. Her work is known for its social and political elements and is influenced by her Mexican heritage.