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17 artists from across the state received the 2016 – 2017 North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award. Artists receive a fellowship to support creative development and the creation of new work. Recipients were selected by panels comprised of artists and arts professionals with expertise in each discipline.

The N.C. Arts Council’s Artist Fellowship program operates on a two-year rotating cycle by discipline. Songwriters, Composers, and Writers are eligible to apply for the Tuesday, November 1, 2016 deadline.

Jina Valentine (Visual art)

Jina Valentine’s work at once invites and defies close reading. Using text as both content and form, she manipulates and obscures the message through cuts, overlays, and acidic ink materials that literally devour the paper on which it’s printed. She entices viewers to contemplate the intricacies of her lace-like drawings and collages, which seem to promise meaning in the accumulation of visual mark-making and clues, but often leaves them yearning for what they can’t see in the spaces and voids.

Recently, Valentine has employed new methods to explore her ideas. “In the past few years, my practice has become more politically engaged, collaborative, experiential, and experimental,” she explained. “It still includes the manipulations of objects, paper, and writing, but it also involves animation, performance, archiving, facilitating public dialogues, imagining new pedagogies, and interdisciplinary collaboration.”

One of these efforts was the Black Lunch Table gatherings she co-organizes with New York-based artist Heather Hart at institutions across the country. Valentine and Hart invite participants to engage in roundtable discussion on a variety of topics, ranging from implicit bias to the authorship of art/history. They also stage Wikipedia edit-a-thons which teach participants to author their own pages, with a focus on adding and improving articles on artists of the African Diaspora.

Valentine graduated with an M.F.A. from Stanford in 2009 and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has had numerous exhibitions and residencies, including at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. This year, the Black Lunch Table project was awarded a Creative Capital Emerging Genres grant and an Institute for Arts & Humanities Fellowship.

Lien Truong (Visual art)

The physical practice of painting connects Lien Truong to practitioners and cultures through time.

“The act of manipulating pigment over a support simultaneously embraces centuries of historical drawing and painting, art made integral with religious principles and cultural ideologies,” she explains. “I am at once undeniably seduced by the sensation and process of pushing material over a surface and at the same time curiously fixated on the present-day relevance and discoveries of these primordial acts.”

As a Vietnamese refugee and U.S. citizen, Truong understands the “increasing complications of social and cultural identity in our eternally migratory world.” Using textiles as her material to reference centuries of colonialism and trade, she updates the 19th-century genre of history painting using motifs that borrow from eastern and western traditions. Her work resides in a hybrid space between these worlds, illuminating new ways of conceiving and presenting landscape, architecture, and the figure.

Truong ‘s work has been published in New American Paintings and ARTit Japan and been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, The National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Moscow, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and Galerie Quynh in Ho Chi Minh City, The Oakland Museum of California, among many others. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Find out more about Truong at

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