Ten Individual Artists in Northeast Florida Awarded Art Ventures Grants

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Ten Northeast Florida artists recently received grants of $5,000 each as part of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida’s Art Ventures initiative, now in its 34th year.

The awards will provide a springboard for these artists to advance their artistic practices, pursue new projects and bring their work to new audiences. Many past awardees have leveraged the opportunity to propel their work in substantial ways.

I hope this year’s Art Ventures artists feel tremendous pride in their selection for these awards, which are a testament to the talent and ambition of our local arts community,” said Amy Crane, senior director of grantmaking at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. “The Community Foundation continues to be inspired by the quality of work across many disciplines, and we feel privileged to support these artists thanks to the generosity of our donors.

This opportunity attracted more than 65 applicants, a record-breaking number, and the awardees were selected for their demonstrated talent as well as their determination to move to the next level of professional development. During this grant cycle, The Community Foundation increased the individual artist award amount from $3,500 to $5,000 and extended the award timeline from 12 to 18 months, as part of an effort to continually improve the experience for artists.

Applications were reviewed by a panel of subject area experts and past recipients and predominantly evaluated on artistic merit, with additional consideration for how the artist is influenced by and impacts Northeast Florida. This year’s selected grantees were drawn from the categories of Film, Creative Writing, Music, and the Visual Arts. They include:

Raquel Benjamin, Visual Artist – Raquel Benjamin is a visual artist and entrepreneur from Jacksonville, FL. Benjamin graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Marketing and Management. Benjamin is the founder of ‘My Silent Protest LLC,’ an online platform aiming to use fashion and visual art for positive impacts on social justice. Grant funding will support her fashion collection, “PROTEST PINSTRIPE.” The blazer, vest, and trouser pants are designed to be worn individually or as a suit, and give the illusion of a standard pinstripe pattern from afar, but up-close reveal text-based messages that raise awareness about social causes.

Julian Bryson, Music Composer/Conductor – Julian Bryson is a nationally recognized composer who currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Jacksonville University. Bryson studied at the University of Kentucky, where he received his Doctor of Musica Arts in Choral Conducting in 2016. His works are recognized for their complex textures and rhythms and sophisticated harmonies. The grant will allow Bryson to perform, record, and produce his first professional recordings of original work, including a collaboration with Voices of Jacksonville, the adult professional ensemble affiliated with the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus. Bryson will distribute the work internationally through Spotify.

Emily Cargill, Choreographer – Emily Cargill is a professional choreographer based in Neptune Beach, FL. Cargill received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from James Madison University, and her Master of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography from Florida State University. She danced professionally with Atlanta-based dance company, Staibdance, before beginning her professional choreographic career. Her works have been performed in prominent festivals, and she has served on faculty at the Atlanta Ballet, Georgia Ballet, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, among others. This grant will support the creation of a work titled “The Grief Project,” which will be performed at the Women’s Arts Exchange in April of 2024.

Andrew Fallon, Filmmaker – An Iranian-American raised in the South, Andrew Fallon is a multidisciplinary artist who crafts stories inspired by underdogs, outsiders, and the underrepresented. Over his 15-year career, Fallon has spearheaded a range of award-winning work, from commercials to title sequences and music videos. Funding will support production for his first independent short film, COBALT, which explores the perspective of a Middle Eastern teen growing up in the American South in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Barbara Hionides, Visual Artist – Barbara Hionides is a painter and muralist living in Jacksonville. Her large-scale realistic paintings and public installations depict everyday moments in life combined with symbolism and deeper meaning. Trained in oil painting in Greece, Hionides has worked as a K-12 art teacher in Jacksonville, and coordinated large-scale projects including an audio-visual projection showcase featuring 72 multidisciplinary artists. Funding will support the creation of a community-driven installation project in Historic Springfield titled “Main Street Series.”

Andrew Kozlowski, Visual Artist – Currently a cartoonist, printmaker, writer, and arts educator, Andrew Kozlowski had a major shift in his work during the pandemic. Unable to create site-specific installations, he began journaling and creating personal and social commentary through comics. Kozlowski is an Associate Professor at the University of North Florida. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking at Temple University and his Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University. His work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions nationwide. The grant will expand his studio’s production capacity, and create opportunities for it to be a resource for other creatives in Jacksonville.

Jessica Q. Stark, Writer – Jacksonville poet and educator Jessica Q. Stark is the author of several published books of poetry and prose. She is a Poetry Editor for the American literary magazine, AGNI, and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Florida. Among numerous nationally recognized publications, her poetry has been anthologized in the Best American Poetry series, and she was a finalist for the Norma Farber Prize for the Poetry Society of America in 2021. Stark earned a Ph.D. in English from Duke University in 2020. The Art Ventures grant will fund a book tour for her most recent publication, Buffalo Girl, which includes poetry, original collaged photography, and prose influenced by folklore and her mother’s immigration to the United States from Vietnam in 1975.

Glenn Van Dyke, Musician and Audio Engineer – Glenn Michael Van Dyke is a multi-instrumentalist, audio-visual designer, and audio engineer. Their career started in New York while participating in a program of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Van Dyke currently leads the local ensemble, Kairos Creature Club and is a touring member of Caroline Rose’s live band. Another aspect of Van Dyke’s work is implementing light and projection mapping to create live visuals to respond to the music as performed. After selling out of their first EP, Kairos Creature Club is releasing a debut self-titled album in Spring 2024. The Art Ventures grant will support Van Dyke’s efforts to market the album through an international promotion campaign.

Marcus Jamal Williams, Visual Artist – Marcus Jamal Williams is a visual artist from Jacksonville, FL. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Florida in philosophy. Williams’s long trajectory in the arts began with his elementary education at Lake Forest Elementary School of the Arts. Lacking early artistic role models, Williams now exclusively depicts subjects in the African diaspora. Williams’s work has been exhibited widely in galleries and museums and has been featured in numerous publications. Grant funding will support a community engagement project involving video interviews with pillars in the African American community, and evolving into a portrait series answering the question, ‘What makes you great?’

Ithiell Yisrael, Filmmaker – Producer, director, and writer Ithiell Yisrael is president of Iron Rock Films, based in Jacksonville, FL. Yisrael earned an Associate Degree in Film & Television from Full Sail University in 2004, and began his career at Hudlin Brothers Film. He has worked with noteworthy individuals such as Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, and John Legend. With more than 15 years in the film industry, Yisrael has written, filmed and edited features, shorts, commercials, music videos, television pilots, and documentaries. Grant funding will support the creation of a mini-documentary as a proof of concept for a larger project highlighting the underground hip-hop scene in Jacksonville, FL.

About Art Ventures

Art Ventures began in 1990 as a commitment to invest in local individual artists as well as small arts organizations. To date, Art Ventures has made more than 240 grants to individual artists and 150 grants to small arts organizations, totaling more than $1.4 million since inception. Funding for Art Ventures Individual Artist grants comes from the Art Ventures Endowment, the Baker Family Advised Fund, the J. Shepard, Jr. & Mary Ann Bryan Arts Endowment, the Delores Barr Weaver Black Artists Endowment, Anne and Sallyn Pajcic Art Ventures Endowment, the Independent Life Minority Arts Fund, the Alynne Sharp Art Fund and the Klaus and Barbara C. Wenger Family Fund.

About The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida

The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida (, Florida’s oldest and one of its largest community foundations, works to stimulate philanthropy to build a better community. The Foundation helps donors invest their philanthropic gifts wisely, helps nonprofits serve the region effectively, and brings people together to make the community a better place. Created in 1964, the Foundation has accepted more than $1 billion in gifts and made more than $695 million in grants since inception.


Stephanie Garry Garfunkel
VP, Strategic Communications
904-356-4483 |

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