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United Arts Council

Professional Development Grants Support Artistic Experimentation

What happens when you mix architecture, vintage German toys, movement and mechanics?

For Becky Joye, kinetic sculpture, artwork connected to motion, is the answer.

Some might wonder how she even came up with the ingredients in that recipe. But that transformation from process to product is part of the beauty of art.

Professional Development Grants (formerly Regional Artist Project Grants) from United Arts Council support artists in creating their own artistic recipe and following through on their creation. The purpose of the grants is to help both emerging and established artists (in dance, drama, film/media, literary/playwright, music and visual art) take a bold next step, usually involving a new component in their artistic career.

One of these grants provided support for Joye in her journey toward kinetic sculpture.""

Like all art, kinetic sculpture came to Joye through a process of discovery. The grant provided an opportunity to “experiment and test new ideas,” says Joye.

Joye has a background in architecture and had been experimenting in implied motion. See her web site for examples. She also became interested in work structures such as cranes and had the opportunity to travel to Germany to see and learn more about vintage German toys focused on providing children miniature versions of work structures.

The timing was ideal when she found a Mechanical Playthings workshop at Penland School of Crafts upon her return from Germany. She was able to fund the workshop through a Professional Development Grant.

At Penland, Joye learned how to use tools that she would need to make the sculptures and learned basic mechanics. “The experience helped me learn a new medium and really move my ideas forward.”

Throughout the course of a year, Joye made four sculptures, some with accompanying two-dimensional work. She started with a drawing and often started building her sculpture directly on top of the drawing. She moved back and forth between the two-dimensional and three- dimensional work, usually finishing with painting the two-dimensional work.

In addition to funding her workshop, Joye used her Professional Development Grant to document her work with professional photography, a key component for visual artists compiling any grant application.

The application process is electronic now, simplifying some of the previous steps in the application process. “We really want artists to feel encouraged to apply,” says Brandi Neuwirth, art coordinator for United Arts. “We are here to support artists through the grants themselves. We also are able to support artists through the application process and provide feedback at any step.”

What’s next for Joye? She is taking another bold next step–moving back into the two-dimensional world. After a trip to Iceland, she is focusing on natural forms, fishing boats and storytelling.

“I’d like to write a book; that’ll be the next grant,” says Joye.

Joye would encourage other artists to take the time to apply for a professional development grant to “try a new medium and carry out a vision.”

Joye also notes the importance of sharing opportunities in the arts communities. “I just told someone about the grants at a First Friday show who hadn’t heard about it. I learned about the grant from someone else, too. Word of mouth is important in this community.”

Spread the word. Attend a grant application workshop. Make a bold next step. Let a Professional Development Grant from the United Arts Council help you carry out your ideas.

Find more information and important dates for 2017 Professional Development grants.


—Karla Heinen, communications coordinator

PO Box 26388
Raleigh, NC 27611

Phone: (919) 839-1498
[email protected]