Four artists named as 2011 USA Knight Fellows

Poet Campbell McGrath at the announcement of the 2011 Knight Arts Challenge Miami winners

Four artists have been named USA Knight Fellows for 2011 by the national grantmaking and advocacy group United States Artists. Each will receive $50,000 in unrestricted funds to use as they choose for their work in architecture and design, dance, literature and media, the selected artists.

Knight Fellows also receive an additional $5,000 to engage local residents in the arts through workshops, talks or other projects.

In 2009, Knight Foundation established the USA Knight Fellowship to recognize artists working in communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers.

In all today, United States Artists awarded 50 fellowships to artists across the country.

Here are this year’s USA Knight Fellows:

Jenny E. Sabin, Philadelphia, Pa.

Sabin is an architectural designer, artist, and educator whose work focuses on the intersection between architecture and science. Sabin is the principal of Jenny Sabin Studio (since 2005), an experimental design studio, and is co-director of the hybrid research and design unit, LabStudio, at the University of Pennsylvania, where architects, scientists, and engineers collaborate to develop, analyze, and abstract dynamic biological systems to develop new ideas about the ecological design of architecture. In 2010, Sabin received the prestigious Pew Fellowship in the Arts for architecture and design.

Michelle Ellsworth, Boulder, Colo.

Ellsworth is a dancer, choreographer, video maker, writer, cartoonist, and web designer. In her performances, Ellsworth combines dance with technology, humorously confronting issues such as biodiversity or problems with the shrinkage of the Y chromosome. Since 2007, she has created performable websites that exist as independent sites as well as live pieces. Ellsworth has performed at On the Boards, Seattle, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, and Dance Theater Workshop in New York. She has received commissions from DTW, DiverseWorks, Houston, National Performance Network, and the Miami Dade Cultural Affairs Department.

Campbell McGrath, Miami, Fla.

Poet McGrath has published nine collections of his work, predominantly free-verse, long form, documentary poems about the American landscape, culture, and history. He has been awarded many prestigious honors, including The Pushcart Prize (1992), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1998), and a MacArthur Fellowship (1991). McGrath is the Phillip and Patricia Frost Professor of Creative Writing at Florida International University.

Dee Rees, Long Beach, Calif.

Filmmaker Rees is interested in telling socially conscious, character-driven stories that deal with concepts of identity and self-determination. Rees has written and directed several short films, most notably Pariah, which screened at over 40 festivals worldwide, including the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and won 25 “Best Short” awards. She expanded it into the feature-length Pariah about a lesbian teenager’s struggle with her identity. It premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Excellence in Cinematography Award.

United States Artists will officially announce this year’s fellows at a celebration tonight hosted by Tim Robbins, Academy Award-winning actor and artistic director of L.A.-based theater company The Actors’ Gang.

United States Artists is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to investing in America’s finest artists and to illuminate the value of artists to society. Each year, it conducts a rigorous national selection process and awards fellowships to artists from all disciplines in recognition of the caliber and impact of their work.