Michael Tarbi, an accomplished Brooklyn-based artist, has pursued a series of fellowships in order to create art on his own terms. Throughout his career he has used art to tackle subjects dealing with the human condition, often using symbolism to communicate larger social concerns. Michael graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, in 2002 where he received numerous awards including the Henry J. Schiedt Travel Scholarship and the Angelo Pinto Award for Experimental Work. More recently, he was awarded the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, becoming one of 16 fellows chosen from an applicant pool of almost 3,700 applicants. Since Michael is a lifelong fellowship seeker, we asked him about his strategies for applying to fellowships for artists.
1. What attracted you the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship?
The New York Foundation for the Arts is an organization that truly understands artists and encourages creative growth. Many NYFA fellows have gone on to receive Academy Awards, MacArthur Fellowships, and Pulitzer Prizes. It all begins with that spark of recognition during a critical point in a person’s career when the funding is needed the most. The NYFA Fellowship is unique because the award money is given to its artists for unrestricted use. This granted me the freedom to do whatever I wanted with the funding. On the day that I received notification of my fellowship, I decided to use a portion of it to travel abroad and the rest to continue making work.
2. What do you think made your application stand out?
Fellowships are much different than grants. A fellowship committee focuses solely on the quality of the artist’s work, while most grant committees take financial need into consideration. As a visual artist, this means that your images are the deciding factor as to whether or not you receive a fellowship. The most important thing an artist can have is great images and an application that follows all of the organization’s guidelines. Even incorrectly sized images could cause the committee to discard your application and move onto the next 3,000 applicants. After that, it’s out of your hands. There are thousands of great artists out there and only so many fellowships. You have to hope that the jurors really like your work and appreciate what you are doing.
3. How has the fellowship influenced your career as an artist?
My NYFA fellowship came at a time when I was becoming increasingly jaded about the art-world. I think it restored a sense of hope when I needed it the most. The recognition affirmed for me that I was doing something that mattered, and that my hard work was not in vain. It also allowed me to travel, which always tends to have a profound impact on my art. Overall, It made me realize that every artist’s path is different. There is no right way. You have to just keep making the work and good things will happen.
Michael Tarbi is a New York based artist whose diverse body of work includes drawing, painting, sculpture and installation. His work has appeared in many gallery and museum exhibitions including James Cohan Gallery, New York, Mass MoCA, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. In 2011, Tarbi was awarded the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. His work can currently be seen through The Drawing Center’s Viewing Program, New York and the Pierogi Flat Files, Brooklyn.
© Victoria Johnson 2012, all rights reserved.
Don’t miss your chance to apply for the 2012 Artist Trust Fellowship. The Artist Trust Fellowship is a merit based award of $7,500 for talented artists residing in Washington State, USA, working in the disciplines of Craft Arts, Literary Arts, Media Arts and Music Arts. Sixteen awards are up for grabs in 2012.
In addition to the prestige and funding that comes with winning this award, Artist Trust Fellowships also include ‘Meet the Artist’ events which give fellows a unique opportunity to promote themselves and their work in communities and areas currently outside of their reach.
“Meet the Artist is an integral part of the Fellowship Program. Examples of Meet the Artist events include: a public reading, a lecture, a workshop or a performance of the recipient’s work”. Read more.
The application deadline for the 2012 Artist Trust Fellowship is February 26, 2012. To learn more about this and other open fellowship, grant, and funding opportunities with Artist Trust please click here.
- Digging deep for Artist-in-Residence Fellowships
- Duke Foundation Announces $35 Million in Fellowships for Artists
- Fellowships For Artists: 3 Questions With NYFA Fellow Michael Tarbi
- 50 Artists x $50K in Fellowships – You Do The Math!
- Cultivating Leadership: 3 Questions with Eisenhower Fellow Bernardine Vester
Each year thirty Rome Prize Fellowships are awarded to talented early-to-mid career artists, architects, designers, historians, musicians and scholars to live and work at the American Academy in Rome. The fellowship provides a stipend, meals, a bedroom with private bath, and a study or studio.
The Rome Prize Fellowship accepts applications from a wide array of disciplines including: architecture, design, historic preservation and conservation, landscape architecture, literature, musical composition, visual arts, ancient studies, medieval studies, renaissance and early modern studies and modern Italian studies.
The Rome Prize Fellowship winners are invited to Rome for either 6 or 11 months, provided a stipend of $14,000 or $26,000, respectively, and are provided with a once in a lifetime opportunity to expand their professional, artistic, or scholarly pursuits, drawing on their colleagues’ erudition and experience and on the inestimable resources that Italy, Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Academy have to offer.
To be eligible for the Rome Prize Fellowship you must be a U.S. citizen. Additional eligibility requirements vary by discipline and include things such as years of relevant work experience and post-graduate education. For more information about the Rome Prize Fellowship, please visit the website.
Join the crowd
Our step-by-step guide for a competitive fellowship application
1. Create a plan
2. Project proposal ideas
3. Talk to current / former fellows
4. Prepare an effective resumé
5. Find a host institution
6. Write a compelling personal statement
7. Prepare a strong project proposal
8. Get great recommendation letters (P1)
9. Get great recommendation letters (P2)
10. Nail the individual and group interviews