Nov 20 2020

Chitra Ganesh Wins 2020 Anonymous Was a Woman Grant

by Stephanie Siu

Portrait of CHITRA GANESH. Image via Instagram.

On November 18, New York-based grant program Anonymous Was A Woman announced multimedia artist Chitra Ganesh as one of its 2020 grantees along with nine other recipients who were recognized for their artistic growth, accomplishments, originality, and potential as female-identifying artists over the age of 40. Each recipient receives an award of USD 25,000 to further their artistic career development. 

Ganesh is known for her surreal and fantastical mixed-media works that represent feminist narratives. Her works challenge canonical norms of sexuality and power, often depicting bizarre and phantasmagorical images of female characters. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, in an Indian immigrant family, she was exposed to Hindu mythology, literature, and popular culture, which now form the departure point for her practice. For example, her series of linocuts Sultana’s Dream (2018) visualizes the titular feminist sci-fi novel by Bengali author Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain. Ganesh relates the fictional story to her own experiences, commenting on issues like gender inequality. Ganesh graduated from Brown University with a BA in Comparative Literature and Art-Semiotics, and received her MFA from Columbia University in 2002.

Among the nine other grantees are multidisciplinary artist Linda Goode Bryant, tapestry weaver DY Begay, visual artist Barbara Chase-Riboud, multidisciplinary artist Elena Del Rivero, painter Karen Gunderson, mixed-media artist Virginia Jaramillo, videographer and artist Claudia Joskowicz, multimedia artist Karyn Olivier, and multidisciplinary artist Juana Valdés. Winners were chosen among a pool of applicants nominated by an anonymous group of distinguished art historians, curators, writers, and artists. 

This is the second batch of grants that has been awarded this year. Earlier this year, a USD 250,000 Covid-19 Emergency Relief Grant by Anonymous Was A Woman was distributed to artists who have experienced financial hardship as a direct result of the pandemic, with each successful applicant receiving up to USD 2,500. 

Anonymous Was A Woman was founded in 1996 by artist Susan Unterberg who remained anonymous until 2018, to support female artists in the middle stages of their careers. To date, there have been 250 award recipients.   

Stephanie Siu is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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