Located in Studio 319

This competitive juried residency provides meaningful support to emerging artists who have recently completed formal academic training in the visual arts. It is an opportunity to address the critical post-graduation juncture in an emerging artist’s career.

Residents have three months of exclusive access to a studio in the Art Center. Therein, they can create and sell work, interact with the public, and connect with other arts professionals. It’s an opportunity for professional development, networking, and a chance to define a practice outside of the academic context.

Applications are open to recently graduated students who earned a bachelor’s or master’s art degree from an accredited university. Submissions were accepted from across the U.S., provided artists submit proof of their permanent residence in the area and/or commitment to contributing to the future of the region’s arts scene.

The jurors were Nicole Dowd, program director at Halcyon Arts Lab, and Leslie Holt, artist and co-director of Red Dirt Studio.

Congratulations to the 2019 Residents

Michaela Japec • January – March
George Mason University

Michaela Japec is from Alexandria, Virginia. She recently completed her bachelor’s of fine arts in 2018 from George Mason University. Through her art, she works through conflicting thoughts she has about her sexuality, body insecurities, and feelings of oppression. During her residency, she will explore less comfortable themes with exaggerated and even grotesque work.

Though Michaela was born in Alexandria, she grew up in Forssjö, Sweden, and lived there until 2008. She has been active in the Alexandria visual arts community for many years, exhibiting work at The Art League Gallery and Delray Artisan Gallery, as well as other locations in Northern Virginia including Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale and Epicure Café in Fairfax.


Nava Levenson • April – June
James Madison University

Nava Levenson in a multidisciplinary artist, instigator, and collaborator based in Richmond, Virginia. She completed her bachelor’s of fine arts in 2017 from James Madison University. Her work investigates anthropological concepts such as hospitality, labor, consumption, and space making. Nava incorporates repurposed materials in much of her art in an effort to chip away at the surplus of objects that crowd the planet.

During her residency, she plans to invite artists from the Art Center to participate in her ongoing project, Practice Preserves: Studio Dirt. In the same way thrift stores reveal things about American culture, she seeks to archive artists’ practices. She invites people to add studio scraps and discarded material in quart-sized canning jars, which she then opens, catalogs, and photographs for an anthology she hopes to publish. She already received a starter grant from Specto Artspace and this residency will allow her to advance the project.


Kim Sandara • July – September
Maryland Institute College of Art

Kim Sandara is a queer, Lao/Viet, artist based in Falls Church, Virginia. In 2016, she graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a bachelor’s of fine arts. Accessibility to art is a key part of her creative process. Her overall focus is to encourage empathy, wonder, self-reflection, and connection. During the residency, she will continue documenting her coming out story. She will create a stop-motion animation promoting her graphic novel aimed at helping parents of color to understand and accept their queer children. She hopes contribute proceeds from sales to National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and True Colors Fund.

Kim has worked at the Hirshhorn Gallery and the Phillips Collection, observing how art is presented and digested by its audience. She is presently a guide at Glenstone Museum’s Emerging Professionals Program, where she facilitates discussions about contemporary art. She has shown work at 7Drum City, Uptown Arthouse, SAMASAMA, Womxn Fuck Shit Up, and Arts x Action.


J Houston • October – December
Carnegie Mellon University

J Houston is a multimedia artist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and New York City. They graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor’s in art and gender studies. Through photo, video, and installations, J’s work investigates how queerness occupies domestic spaces, intangible relationships, and identity-markers. As public community gathering spaces become gentrified and inaccessible to queer culture, the community operates in new ways post-displacement. J’s work also uses their body as a physical spaces and explores the intersection of non-binary gender and chronic illness.

During their residency, J intends to continue to build on their work surrounding gender in relationship to chronic pain. They have been making cyanotypes with their x-rays, printing onto medical gauze, and making large-scale archives of what their body has experienced. They intend to experiment with new materials to integrate photography, video, and digital platforms. They look forward to having space to evolve their image-making practice and queer-theory research.


About the Jurors

Nicole Dowd is the Program Director at Halcyon Arts Lab, a newly launched residency fellowship for emerging artists tackling issues of social justice and change. Through the Arts Lab she aims to connect socially-engaged artists with the resources and support structure needed to hone their artistic and entrepreneurial skills. Prior to joining the Halcyon team, Nicole worked with local emerging artists at Hamiltonian Artists where she managed a two-year fellowship program dedicated to career cultivation and artistic mentorship. She received a combined B.A. in fine art and art history from the George Washington University and then went on to pursue a master’s degree in exhibition design from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Nicole is drawn to innovative art practices which challenge perceptions; create dialogue between social impact and aesthetic values; and amplify the artist as cultural leader.

Leslie Holt is from Bethesda, Maryland and in 2012 returned to the DC metro area after living in St. Louis for 20 years. She received a BFA in Painting at Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Painting at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. Leslie has taught studio art, art history and art appreciation on the college level since 2001. She has also worked as a social worker and advocate for people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and people receiving welfare benefits. Currently she is Co-director of Red Dirt Studio, a warehouse studio for a group of independently practicing artists and creative professionals in Mt. Rainier, MD. In addition to her studio practice, Leslie currently teaches art to adults with disabilities in the DC area communities and online for Fontbonne University in St. Louis. She was awarded a Prince Georges Arts and Humanities Council Grant in 2018. Leslie exhibits her work nationally and is represented by the David Lusk Gallery in Memphis.


Read more about past cohorts: