The St Petersburg Arts Alliance is delighted to announce our 2023 Individual Artist Grant Program Awardees!
In our ninth year, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance (SPAA) has awarded FOUR artists with a $5,000 grant each! SPAA partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs to establish an Individual Artist Grant Program in 2015 and in 2023 we increased the grant funding from $1,000 to $5,000. This allowed each grantee the freedom to create without the additional burden of seeking matching funds, or reducing the scope of their project, which could possibly limit the potential of their imagination and the end results.
This year’s grant recipients include a wide array of artists and projects elevated through this grant in the visual, literary, performance, and multi-media arts. The scope and reach of each project is more extensive, due to what can be accomplished with more funding. This means more significant professional development opportunities for the artists themselves, but more importantly, deeper and broader community impact.
These are not only artists, they are citizen artists, endeavoring to uplift and connect community members using their work. There were also extensive collaborations in these projects with artists working with local nonprofits, community leaders, and additional artists to bring their projects to life.
Meet the recipients
TRICIA LYNN BUSH – Multi-Media Arts
Tricia will be creating works of art featuring endangered, threatened or vulnerable species and their habitats in several representational larger scale paintings. Using technology, viewers will be immersed in a narrative about the painting experience and a video journal will be captured that will be looped at the exhibitions to highlight the process of artistic development for this body of work.
Secondary works will be created by others through community engagement, specifically youth, elderly and/or veterans who traditionally have limited exposure to the arts. The goal is to help humans connect with conservation and learn about Florida’s endangered or threatened wildlife.
Tricia is a Florida resident and practiced as a Registered Nurse in healthcare administration and adult education while pursuing and advancing her skills and competence in painting. Her Danish heritage brought her to begin serious work in Tole painting, where she fell in love with oil paint . As her skills grew, she took a few representational art workshops and is now working full time as an artist and art instructor focusing on realistic wildlife and landscape subjects.
Her passion and respect for wildlife was recognized through birding expeditions in the jungles of Peru, India and Costa Rica. Tricia finds immense inspiration photographing wildlife, their habitats and the many interesting people who represent the various cultures around the world.
While art in their own right, her photographs also become the subjects of her artwork. Some artists pick their genre or subjects, but Tricia believes wildlife picked her as their artist and she is honored to produce paintings that express their life and spirit. While she teaches, she educates others by linking the stories of wildlife and their habitats to the unique and fragile connections felt between humans and nature.
As a self-taught artist, Tricia has taken many workshops in fine art and continually wants to learn new ways of teaching and producing her art.
SHEILA COWLEY – Literary & Performing Arts
Professional visual and performing artists from Sheila Cowley’s Sparks Collaborative Ensemble will create collaborative, multi-arts performances for children based on her plays, and produce long-lasting online stories including 5 videos in Spanish and new stories illustrated by young artists.
As St. Petersburg’s vibrant LGBTQIA+ community is under threat in Florida, one of these stories is “Twice as Spectacular” which celebrates and honors LGBTQIA+ parents, kids and families – along with single-parent families, step and blended families, loving guardians and families that you create yourself.
As Americans of Latinx heritage and immigrants are under threat in the U.S., this project employs Latinx performing artists and celebrates the Spanish language – making stories accessible to families who speak Spanish at home, and creating engaging arts-based resources for children learning Spanish.
As longtime members of the Sparks Collaborative Ensemble, member artists of Creative Clay will be in a leadership position – guiding young artists as they create visual art inspired by stories and working inclusively with Sparks performers. Through partnerships, this project draws attention to the work of St Pete Pride, Creative Clay, the LGBTQ Resource Center at the Gulfport Library, Daystar Life Center's Food Pantry and Edible Garden, and the ever-diverse Studio@620.
“This grant is an opportunity for me to take a big step forward in creating work for children - moving into live performances and connecting with new organizational partners and audiences.” ~Sheila Cowley
Sheila Cowley is a playwright and audio producer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. She collaborates with actors, dancers, scientists, musicians and visual artists on performance works aimed at inspiring audiences to look up and look sideways, to reach out and embrace this complicated world. She leads the Sparks Collaborative Ensemble, a working group diverse in age, gender identity, ethnicity, ability and art forms that create joyous performances both for and with kids, elders, neuro-diverse artists, creative adventurers, and you.
Her stage plays embrace voice, movement, sound and visual art. It’s theatre that asks big questions — about gender roles and family, and tiny daily acts of heroism.
Sheila’s plays range from Flying, about women forced to stop piloting military planes in WWII, to Air-Earth-Fire-Water, a dance-theatre collaboration inspired by quantum physics and marine biology. Her work has been produced around the U.S. and in London, South Korea, Sydney and Dubai.
Close to home, she sparks connections between tidal pools and stars, and helped inspire several hundred people to join a parade led by visual artists with neuro-differences, around and into a museum.
In her day job, she serves as Managing Editor of the Creative Pinellas online Arts Coast magazine.
TIFFANY ELLIOT – Visual Arts
Tiffany will produce a collaborative gallery show through the Justice Studio art program presented by NOMADstudio using jewelry as a medium to create personal adornments with students inside Pinellas Juvenile Detention Center (JDC). This project will provide detained youth with meaningful opportunities for creative freedom, expression, learning and growth.
Throughout December, Tiffany will display the polymer and metal jewelry pieces inside of Justice Studio, where students can resonate with the work they help create. The display will show how the creations by them and their peers can transform into sellable items.
“I seek to inspire them to find creative paths upon their release as a form of wellbeing and as a potential career option.” ~Tiffany Elliot
Within Tiffany’s research she states, “Within the criminal justice literature, there are many reports on the benefits of the arts in engaging individuals in prisons. Programs have included arts projects for juvenile offenders with complex mental health symptoms or behavioral regulation difficulties, with reported improvements in such difficulties as well as increases in academic performance and family functioning.
Tiffany Elliott, GIA Diamonds Graduate and jeweler, is best known for incorporating baroque minimalism into her collections inspired by history, culture, and places across the globe. Her recent work of custom grillz showcased her commitment to push the boundaries and refine her skills, by creating intricate designs that cover the smalls of the teeth.
Devoted to inspiring and aiding in the benefits of creative freedom, Tiffany facilitates jewelry workshops with members of the community residing in underserved areas. She wants her artwork to not only be visually pleasing but to impact communities via social engagement.
POLITA GLYNN – Multi-Media Arts
Polita will create “Underground History” a documentary film project designed to explore connections between St. Petersburg’s diverse cultural history and emerging community efforts to acknowledge that past in charting the future. The project considers the links between the history and remaining archeological sites of the region’s Indigenous Ancestors, the displaced contemporary African American communities and erased black cemeteries and historic waterways which once created a connectivity for these places and people.
There will be two film screenings and community discussions that will present a work-in-progress documentary and gather feedback from the audience about the film.
“Underground History poses the question, if a community fully acknowledges its past, can it develop a deeper sense of place and a more equitable future?” ~Polita Glynn
Polita Glynn is a filmmaker, writer and media producer. She moved from Miami to St. Petersburg in 2021 and in 2022 she stepped down from her job with The Pew Charitable Trusts to return to her work as a filmmaker. From 2005 - 2022, Glynn directed the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation, an international program which supports scientists and experts to advance knowledge and innovation in ocean protection. She was responsible for all aspects of the program, from fellowship selection to grants management, annual meeting programming, strategic planning, and fundraising. During her tenure, the program increased donor funding and diversified international fellowship awards.
Prior to her role with Pew, Glynn worked as a freelance writer/producer and media educator. As a writer/producer, she worked for production companies and non-profit organizations, and her independent documentaries were funded by the State of Florida, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council.
She was the Seminar Program Director for the Miami Film Festival and developed film education programs for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Her work in education in Massachusetts involved development and implementation of arts programs to facilitate cross cultural communication and address race relations in the Boston Public Schools.
Glynn received her B.A. in American Studies from Bennington College, Ed.M. from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and studied film and television production at the University of Miami School of Communication.