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THE NEW YORK TIMES, "Getting Encouragement to Push Boundaries"

September 2, 2001



By Michelle Falkenstein Artists, like [Jeanette] Louie, who create challenging work, have long struggled to find financial support. This struggle has been felt all the more acutely since the federally financed homoerotic photography of Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano’s "Piss Christ" were pilloried on the floor of Congress in 1998 and the National Endowment for the Arts subsequently eliminated grants to individual artists in the mid-1990’s. But thanks to Creative Capital, a national nonprofit organization founded in 1999, Ms. Louie and 42 other artists were recently awarded grants from $5000 to $20,000 to complete specific projects in the visual and media arts. Ms. Louie, the first winner to be chosen from New Jersey since the program’s inception, will receive $10,100 to execute "Words to Live By," a three-part piece that will explore the creation of contemporary propaganda using text, diagrams and artwork. Creative Capital, based in New York, was the brain-child of Archibald Gillies, then president of the Warhol Foundation and who now leads an effort to create an endowment for Creative Capital. Nearly 40 funders support the organization, including the Ford Foundation, the Knight Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation. The group has pledges of almost$7 million for its first five years of operation. Unlike many other foundations that support the arts, Creative Capital actively seeks innovative projects from its applicants, according to its executive director, Ruby Lerner. "We’re looking for work that pushes boundaries," she said. "Jeanette is emblematic of the kind of artist we are interested in supporting." In addition, Creative Capital looks for artists who are branching out of their typical approach. "We want work that might stretch peoples notions about what an artist might do," she said. Ms. Louie concurs. For most grants, she said, an artist usually has to stay within the confines of what he or she is known for. "If you do hybrid, interdisciplinary projects, its hard to get backing, especially in the emerging sectors," she said. "Creative Capital lets you go outside your regular medium and style."

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