2015 3Arts Awardees Announced

published: Oct. 5, 2015

CHICAGO, IL (October 5, 2015)–3Arts is honored to announce the ten recipients of its 8th annual 3Arts Awards, presented to women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities working in the performing, teaching, and visual arts. The 2015 recipients are: dancer Kris Lenzo and choreographer Stephanie Martinez; vocalist Frank Waln and instrumentalist Chihsuan Yang; teaching artists Benji Hart and Chris Silva; actors Allen Gilmore and Fawzia Mirza; and visual artists Cheryl Pope and Fo Wilson. 3Arts Awards honorees each receive an unrestricted $25,000 award to put to use according to their individual needs and priorities. To date, the Chicago-based, nonprofit granting organization 3Arts has awarded over $1.5 million in total grants to more than 100 Chicago artists in the past eight years.

The 3Arts awards were presented on Monday, Octover 5, by the 3Arts Board of Directors and Awards Host Committee in a celebratory gathering at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The event also featured the world premieres of the dance, “Flexing/Fluffing,” by past 3Arts awardee Darrell Jones as well as the music composition, “Pretty Ugly,” by past awardee JoVia Armstrong and performed by an ensemble of past awardees including Dee Alexander, Tatsu Aoki, Nicole Mitchell and avery r. young.  

“It is an immense privilege for 3Arts and our Award Partners to support another ten Chicago-area artists whose work energizes and enthralls every corner of our city. It is our profound hope that these artists will feel the applause emanating their way, and never forget how much they are valued here,” said 3Arts Executive Director Esther Grisham Grimm.

“Every year, we celebrate new awardees who reflect the breadth of art in Chicago and the diversity of our community. Hand in hand with our supporters, we do this work, in part, selfishly—to ensure that artists have a good reason to stay among us in Chicago,” added 3Arts Board Chair Marcia Festen.

The ten awardees were selected by national jury panels of their peers, including: 

  • Dance judges: Amy Fitterer, Dance/USA Executive Director; Alice Sheppard, choreographer/dancer; and Sarah Solotaroff-Mirkin, dance supporter/advocate
  • Music judges: Afa Sadykhly Dworkin, Sphinx Organization President/Artistic Director; Shulamit Ran, Professor of Music at University of Chicago; and Isabel Yrigoyen, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Associate Director of Performing Arts
  • Teaching Arts judges: Barbara Hackett-Cox, Perpich Center for Arts Education Partnership Coordinator; Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Metropolitan Museum of Art Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman; and Carrie Spitler, Snow City Arts Executive Director
  • Theater judges: Mica Cole, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Associate Producer;  PJ Powers, Timeline Theatre Company Artistic Director; and Faye Price, Pillsbury House Theatre Co-Artistic Director
  • Visual Arts judges: Amanda Cachia, independent curator, Tricia Van Eck, 6018 North Artistic Director; and Deborah Willis, Professor/Chair of the Department of Photo and Imaging at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts

The recipients of the 2015 3Arts Awards are:


Kris Lenzo, Dancer, 3Arts/David Pinkerton Awardee

Kris Lenzo made the transition to dance after more than two decades as a wheelchair athlete and a national champion in wheelchair basketball and wheelchair track. Since 2003, Lenzo has danced with MOMENTA performing arts. His appearances include Spring to Dance, Dance ChicagoDuets for My ValentineBodies of Work Festival of Disability Art and CultureCounter Balance I-VI, and annually at the Chicago Disability Pride Parade. 

Stephanie Martinez, Choreographer, 3Arts/RH, Restoration Hardware Awardee

Stephanie Martinez is a dancemaker who has created original works for Luna Negra Dance Theater's 10th anniversary season at The Harris Theater, Thodos Dance Chicago, Same Planet/Different World, Ron De Jesus Dance, Elements Contemporary Ballet, Chicago Dance Crash, Visceral Dance Chicago, and The Joffrey Academy trainees. In 2014, she received a "Winning Works: Choreographers of Color" award from The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. 


Frank Waln, Vocalist, 3Arts/Reva & David Logan Foundation Awardee

Frank Waln is an award-winning Sicangu Lakota Hip Hop artist, producer, and performer originally from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago's Audio Arts and Acoustics program, he has subsequently won three Native American Music Awards, the "Native American 40 Under 40" award from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, and the 2014 Chicago Mayor's Award for Civic Engagement. 

Chihsuan Yang, Instrumentalist, 3Arts/Southwest Airlines Awardee

Chihsuan Yang is an eclectic and versatile violinist actively engaged in the Chicago music scene. She began playing violin, piano, and erhu at an early age in her native country, Taiwan, and holds a bachelor degree in violin performance. Yang performs in a wide array of genres, including classical, blues, flamenco, free-improvisation, rock, electronic-acoustic, and world music. She is a member of the legendary Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues, as well as the classical quintet, "Accende," and the flamenco ensemble, Las Guitarras de Espana.



Benji Hart, Dancer, 3Arts/Irene Siragusa Phelps Awardee

Benji Hart is an activist, artist, and youth worker dedicated to radical education. Much of his work focuses on using the dance form of vogue to teach Black and Brown queer history, sex positivity, and prison abolition, and to empower poor and working queer communities in creative and celebratory ways. Currently he is a drop-in worker at the Broadway Youth Center in Chicago, a community space for trans and queer youth experiencing homelessness. 

Chris Silva, Multidisciplinary Artist, 3Arts/Chandler Family Awardee

Chris Silva has been a prominent figure in Chicago's graffiti and skateboarding scenes since the 1980s and has played a significant role in the development of "street art." In the 90s, he worked on a mural with the Chicago Public Art Group as part of a community youth project. Since then, the act of facilitating art experiences for young people has become an important part of his art practice. Silva has helped orchestrate youth art projects with Young Chicago Authors, Gallery 37, Yollocalli Arts Reach, After School Matters, and others.



Allen Gilmore, Actor, 3Arts/Denise & Gary Gardner Awardee

Allen Gilmore trained as an actor with Stella Adler at New York University and is a graduate of Juilliard. He has played a variety of roles during his career including: both Othello and Iago (Othello), Cyrano (Cyrano de Bergerac), Ichabod Crane (The Tales of Washington Irving), Hamm (Endgame), Brutus (Julius Caesar), Bynum (Joe Turner's Come and Gone), Lun Tha (The King and I), Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol), Mme. Arsinoe (The Misanthrope), King Hedley (Seven Guitars), and Vladimir (Waiting for Godot) among many others. 

Fawzia Mirza, Actor, 3Arts Community Awardee

Fawzia Mirza is an actor, comedian, and writer who believes in dispelling the myth of the "model minority" in mainstream media and in the power of comedy to tackle divisive topics. She has performed on various Chicago stages and on television and film. Her one-woman play, Me, My Mom & Sharmila, has been performed at universities, conferences, and festivals across the country and internationally. She has also produced documentaries, including the award-winning Fish Out of Water, and Reclaiming Pakistan

The 3Arts Community Award is funded in part through a 3AP crowdfunding campaign. A third of the prize is provided by 3Arts while the remaining comes from 94 donors throughout Chicagoland.



Cheryl Pope, Interdisciplinary Visual Artist, 3Arts/Stan Lipkin & Evelyn Appell Lipkin Awardee

Cheryl Pope is a visual artist working in sculpture, installation, and performance. Her work questions and responds to issues of identity as it relates to the individual and the community, specifically in regards to race, gender, class, history, power, and place. Her project JUST YELL / POETRY as SELF DEFENSE focuses on the physicality and embodiment of language, the politics of listening, and connecting community.

Fo Wilson, Multidisciplinary Visual Artist, 3Arts/Allstate Awardee

Fo Wilson is an artist/maker, educator, independent curator, and writer. Her studio work uses constructed space and furniture forms to create experiences that reposition historical objects and/or aesthetics in a contemporary context and offers audiences new ways of thinking about and interacting with history. Her solo exhibition, Eliza's Peculiar Cabinet of Curiosities, will open at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2016.

Driven by the belief that the vitality and creative spirit of Chicago is reliant upon a diverse spectrum of artistic voices, 3Arts advocates for women artists, artists of color and artists with disabilities working in the performing (dance, music and theater), teaching and visual arts. 


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