Ash Goh Hua, a New York-based filmmaker, and féi hernandez, a Los Angeles-based writer and illustrator, are the winners of Define American‘s 2021 Creative Fellowship project grant. Both winners will receive $5,000 to fund their creative projects. Aligning with Define American’s mission, the Creative Fellowship was created to support immigrant creatives as they build their professional practice and work. 

Funded by the Creative Artists Agency Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, The Define American Creative Fellowship is open to creatives in narrative-oriented art forms (writing, filmmaking, visual storytelling, theater, illustration, spoken word, digital journalism, etc.) and is one of the few national artistic fellowships that considers applicants regardless of immigration status. In addition to producing their creative projects, the fellows will participate in workshops and conversations geared towards furthering their network and impact, connecting with additional resources, and supporting their community engagement efforts. 

Launched in in 2019, the Creative Fellowship is uniquely suited to supporting artists who have a deep commitment to their local communities and further developing their creative practice as they shape narratives of American identity. Previous winners include community organizer, spoken word power, and writer Danyeli Rodriquez Del Orbe, and New Orleans art duo Karla Rosas and Fernando Lopez.

“Artists and culture bearers are playing profound roles in their communities each and every day,” said Seth D. Beattie, Program Officer, Arts & Culture for The Kresge Foundation. “Despite enormous financial challenges, they’re helping communities process grief, raise the visibility of resources and build a sense of community even when socially distant. Define American is helping to lift up and support that work by actively challenging structural biases that impede the community efforts of immigrant artists, including the extensive discrimination facing artists living without documentation.”

Ash Goh Hua will produce an abolitionist political-cultural event around political prisoner liberation, focusing on the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Free Mumia, Free Them All! will screen two short films, I’m Free Now, You Are Free and By Your Side; feature a panel conversation between the filmmakers, Ash Goh Hua, Mike Africa Sr and Debbie Africa and cultural worker Kazembe Balagun, and host a teach-in by Campaign organizer Johanna Fernández.

féi hernandez will write and illustrate Heart of a Moth (Corazón de una Mariposa Nocturna), the first volume of a three-part children’s book series. The story will center Iká, a mixed-race differently-abled queer young spirit warrior, that protects their hood from shadow beasts bred from corrupted hearts. Books are anticipated to be distributed in multi-accessible formats including: audiobooks, Braille format, and plushies for kinesthetic readers to enrich a new generation of differently-abled, queer and trans, Black, Indigenous youth of color to embrace what makes them powerful. 

Applications of the next cohort will open in January 2022.