Individual Artist Grant Awards Announced

Greene County Council on the Arts is pleased to announce the Columbia & Greene County recipients of Individual Artist regrant awards through the Community Arts Grants Fund Decentralization Program. The grants are competitive and represent the presentation of two $2,500 awards.

The Decentralization – Individual Artist Tier is funded by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) to provide support for artists in the production of new, original work. The awards are intended to benefit the artist by creating a dialogue with a community that inspires or impacts the artist’s creative process and by encouraging personal artistic growth. Proposals are sought from the areas of music composition, choreography, literary arts, playwriting, film, and visual arts. The 2015 round of submissions distinguished itself as among the highest quality the program has received in several years, making the reviewers decisions exceptionally difficult.  Draga Susanj of Catskill (Greene County) and Isabel Barton of Hudson (Columbia County) were selected as this year’s Individual Artist Grant recipients.

Draga Susanj relocated to the United States from Belgrade in former Yugoslavia in 1991 taking up residence in Catskill in 2014.  Susanj sites a keenly sharpened “sense of place and adaption” developed through this bicultural experience as foundational to her expression.  Her unique form of articulation has found an appreciative audience in exhibits such as Elsewhere, a solo exhibit at the Muroff-Kottler Gallery at SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge (2015), Ad Infinitum (GCCA, 2014), Honeycombed at Wave Hill’s Glindor Gallery (2011), and venues in NY, Boston, Chicago, and beyond.

Work by Draga Susanj

Highly respected for her site specific installations Susanj has earned a 2-month residency at Catslair, Catwalk Institute, a week long Catskill Center residency in Platte Clove (2014), a Creative Glass Center of America Fellowship at the Wheaton Arts Center (NJ, 2010), an Edwin Austin Abbey Mural Workshop Fellowship at the National Academy (NY, 2009) and other recognition.

Technically adept at ceramic sculpture and fiberglass fabrication, as well as the uncommon media of hot and kiln cast glass, she holds a BFA in Ceramics (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and an MFA in sculpture (School of Art & Design, Alfred University).  Her work is in permanent collections of the Museum of American Glass (NJ) and MOMA.

The Individual Artist award will enable Susanj to embark on a mixed-media installation with the working title “Catskill Textures.”  Draga envisions her role in the project as that of a “contemporary pioneer” and the work itself as an investigative response to the early 19th Century environment of the Catskills, focusing specifically on Mountaintop resident and writer Anna Mallon Henry.  Drawing from historic materials, knowledge and insight provided by scholars and family members of Henry, and Henry’s writings, Susanj hopes to formulate a “poetic” and “immersive sculptural narrative” in a public space that will honor the author’s legacy as well as initiate interest in the preservation of her home in Platte Clove.

Our Columbia County recipient Isabel Barton is a Venezuelan born filmmaker, photographer and writer.  Early in Barton’s career she was awarded the National Award for Photography in Venezuela (1972), mentored with William Garnett at UC Berkeley, and earned a BFA in Photography (School of Visual Arts in Manhattan).  From 1979 – 2001 her visual and literary expressions were published internationally and her photographs and silkscreen work showcased in galleries and museums throughout the US.

Isabel’s foray into film began in 1999 and quickly produced results including three experimental shorts (Christina’s WorldRed Dot, and Julie of the Spirits), the last a collaboration with composer Peter Wetzler which premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival and went on to screen at Gallery (2002, NY); Nohra Haime Gallery (2003, NY) and the Meade Museum at Amherst College (2003, MA).   Barton’s accomplishments also include four screenplays and co-authorship (with Mariana Hellmund) of The Aspern Papers, a modern adaptation of the Henry James novella.  The two, together with Andrea Roa, coaxed The Aspern Papers into a feature composition currently touring the international film festival circuit. Current projects include a feature-length documentary The Making of a Chief, about Pemon Indian Horetensia Berti.  Making of a Chief has received strong support from NYSCA, Peter S. Reed Foundation, and NYFA.

Barton’s  Individual Artist award will assist in the creation of Lucky, a short narrative film produced with 14 year-old Antonia Bellamy-Talbot.  The story, which unfolds around a youthful fictional main character, is described by Barton as “a portrait of the city,” in which “Hudson’s colorful personalities will play themselves.”  Real life shop keepers, police officers, students, and others positioned within “the city’s architectural and historical resonance, grit and cultural diversity, will enrich and give texture to the film.”  In this new project as well as in her overall practice, Barton’s intent “is always to portray what I see in a way in which a new space rises where we—I as creator and my viewers—can experience a shared sense of reality.”

Please join us in congratulating Draga and Isabel and watch this space for updates on their projects as the year unfolds. For more information on the Individual Artist grants program, contact Director of Community Arts Grants Colette Lemmon at 518-943-3400 or