Local artist received MAC funding, applications open soon

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ruth Miller, a Picayune large-scale embroidery artists, has participated in multiple grant and fellowship programs with the Mississippi Arts Commission. File Photo by Julia Arenstam

Ruth Miller, a Picayune large-scale embroidery artist, has participated in multiple grant and fellowship programs with the Mississippi Arts Commission.
File Photo by Julia Arenstam

The Mississippi Arts Commission recently awarded a local artist a $500 mini-grant to purchase supplies to further her craft.
Ruth Miller hand stitches life-sized embroidery portraits at her home/workshop in Picayune.
After becoming an MAC artist fellow in 2011, the organization provided numerous resources to help her grow, Miller said.
“Even if you don’t have a specific question, even if you don’t say what your situation is, they have ideas,” she said.
Because her portraits can take up to a year to create and are intricately designed with supplies that are hard to come by, Miller said the mini-grant and fellowship have helped her a lot.
“It helps to buy you time; you don’t have to spend time working and making money but can spend time with your art,” Miller said.
The overall goal of the fellowship program is to honor Mississippi artists who demonstrate artistic excellence, MAC Director of Grants Diane Williams said.
Miller said she is using the $500 mini-grant to frame a life-sized self-portrait that was selected for display at the Mississippi Museum of Art in December.
With the money, she was able to buy a high-quality wood frame to display one of her first works, Miller said.
“[Miller] thread paints. The challenge in that is the detail, the rigor that she puts into that work, it’s worth thousands and thousands of dollars,” Williams said.
Even the threads she uses are hard to come by, and expensive, Williams said.
The fellowship program aims to help artists by celebrating their merits, and supporting them so they continue, she said.
“It’s a competitive process. The theory is that everyone that applies in that category, their work is of artistic excellence, that in and of itself make it competitive,” she said.
Once a year, panelists gather to award fellowships to a handful of Mississippi artists in four categories: folk, literary, performing and visual arts.
Miller was awarded a fellowship in 2011 in the visual arts category because, “you know a person that’s working on that level isn’t going to stop,” Williams said.
With so many high-quality artists, the panel judges an artist’s work blindly, without knowing the identity of the author in order to remain unbiased, she said.
“It’s tough for the panelists,” Williams said. “The vision is that whoever they choose, the work and the artist’s statement gives you the impression that the artist is going to continue to do this kind or even better work.”
Fellowships can be awarded for as much as $5,000, depending on funding, Williams said.
MAC is accepting applications until March 1. For more information, visit http://www.arts.ms.gov/grants/artist-fellowship.php.
MAC also accepts applications twice a year for their mini-grants of up to $500 for projects and supplies. Applications for the June 1 deadline open in May, and October for the Nov. 1 deadline, the MAC website states.
“This is a great program for some of the newer artists out there that are trying to get started professionally,” Williams said.
For more information, visit http://www.arts.ms.gov/grants/artist-minigrant.php.

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About Julia Arenstam

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