Sale one of 66 artists nationwide awarded Creative Capital grant

(Top) Inmates enrolled in a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office reentry/rehabilitation program painted black and white stripes on the ASU Art Museum gallery walls as part of Sale's "It's not just black and white" project. Below: Former inmates returned after they were released from prison to complete the project with Sale.

Photo by Stephen Gittins

Gregory Sale, a multi-disciplinary artist and assistant professor of intermedia in the ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, was one of 66 artists to win a Creative Capital grant in the category of emerging fields for his cutting edge work in socially engaged art.

More than 2,700 applicants applied for the 2013 round of grants that totaled more than $4 million. Sale is the only grantee from Arizona in this round of funding and he is one of 25 artists representing 17 projects in the emerging fields category.

“I am thrilled,” said Sale, who won the grant for his Sleepover project after a rigorous, nine month long, three-stage selection process conducted by Creative Capital, an organization that employs venture-capital principles to help artists working in all creative disciplines realize their visions and build sustainable practices. “This elevates my work and socially engaged art practice to a new level of visibility and acknowledgement.”

Sale’s Sleepover project addresses the challenges of people re-entering society after periods of incarceration. In his application, Sale proposed that “a core group of diverse stakeholders would work together over time in shared, intimate spaces to reconsider their understandings of re-entry and their relationships to one another.”

Sleepover is an extension of Sale’s It’s not just black and white project which aspired to give voice to the multiple constituents in the Maricopa County area corrections, incarceration and criminal justice system. Sale used an ASU Art Museum gallery space to develop and display visual and mediated exhibitions, dance, painting and other staged events, discussions and readings. He took an extension of his project to Pennsylvania where he conducted artistic workshops with inmates sentenced to life-without-possibility-of-parole at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution in Graterford and to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia where he exhibited a suite of collaborative works on paper.

The grant includes not only financial support of the Sleepover project, but also extensive professional development and training services, according to Sean Elwood, director of programs and initiatives for Creative Capital. “We engage artists like they were a small business and we are the venture capitalist,” Elwood said. “We stay with the project throughout its lifetime. There is no time limit and in fact we have stayed with some of the artists past their premiers and project completions.” Programs offered to this year’s group of artists are strategic planning, marketing and website experts to the introduction to possible long term funding and support resources. The foundation was described in a Jan. 11, 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal as “a venture capital fund for the avant-garde.”

“The Creative Capital artist granting process is one of the most rigorous and competitive currently in place for contemporary artists,” said Adriene Jenik, professor and director of the ASU School of Art. “That Gregory Sale has been awarded an emerging fields grant this year is a significant confirmation of the vision, excellence and depth of engagement in evidence in his socially engaged arts practice. I believe he is one of the artists today who are defining the limits and potentials of this field and the grant monies, publicity and other support will help extend his practice to new contexts.”

Creative Capital was started in 1999 by Arch Gillies, then president of the Andy Warhol Foundation. Included among the members of the founding board of directors was Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director of ASU Gammage and assistant vice president of cultural affairs at Arizona State University, who remains on Creative Capital’s board of directors.

“Gregory Sale is an inventive, creative artist which is exactly what Creative Capital aspires to support,” Jennings-Roggensack said. “We aspire to support innovation and adventuresome artists from across the country. The beauty of this is it’s a place where artists can go who are pushing the envelope in all of their art forms and Gregory is certainly one of those artists.”

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