Literary artist Maia Asshaq and visual artist Sacramento Knoxx have been named the first recipients of $5,000 Gilda Awards, a Kresge Foundation-funded initiative honoring the late Gilda Snowden’s legacy as a mentor and champion of young, emerging artists in metropolitan Detroit.

Asshaq, whose focus is experimental poetry, and interdisciplinary media artist Sacramento Knoxx were selected by the same independent panels of national and local artists that selected the recently announced 2015 Kresge Artist Fellows in the Literary and Visual Arts. For the Gilda Awards, panelists selected artists who are early in their artistic career, are gaining momentum and who demonstrate exceptional potential through creative risk-taking and pushing the boundaries of their chosen art form.

Similar panels will select the 2016 Gilda Awardees in Dance/Music and Film/Theatre for no-strings awards in this two-year initiative.

Like the Kresge Artist Fellowships and the Kresge Eminent Artist Award initiatives, the Gilda Awards are funded by The Kresge Foundation and administered by the Kresge Arts in Detroit office of the College for Creative Studies. Kresge Arts in Detroit is one aspect of the foundation’s investment in the artistic communities of metropolitan Detroit, providing support to artists living and working in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Now in its seventh year, the program has contributed over $3.5 million to the local creative economy, a commitment that continues to strengthen Detroit’s position as a major center for arts and culture nationally and internationally.

Gilda Snowden was one of our inaugural Kresge Artist Fellows in 2009, a member of the Kresge Arts in Detroit advisory panel, a vital and almost ubiquitous presence in the metropolitan Detroit arts community,” says Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation. “As an artist and a supporter of artists, she is simply irreplaceable. This is one small way to extend what she believed in.”

Snowden, who died unexpected last year at age 60, taught painting for more than 30 years at the College for Creative Studies where she was a professor and interim chair of fine arts. A graduate of Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, Snowden earned BFA and MFA degrees in Painting from Wayne State University, where she studied with John Egner, a painter who was one of the lynchpins of the Cass Corridor art movement from which Snowden drew inspiration. Snowden’s work, abstract yet personal, spanned a wide range of media. In addition to her own work, Snowden was a tireless supporter of Detroit’s art scene, attending and documenting events and exhibitions across the city.

“Professor Snowden was one of the great figures at the College for Creative Studies and in the Detroit arts community – an exuberant and prolific painter, an activist and an incredibly involved and caring teacher and mentor,” says Richard L. Rogers, president of the College for Creative Studies. “By assisting emerging artists, the Gilda Awards celebrate her deep commitment to nurturing new generations of artists. Everyone at CCS is delighted that Kresge Arts in Detroit is honoring our beloved colleague in such a meaningful way.”

The two Gilda Award winners are Detroit-based artists. Iraqi-born Maia Asshaq is an experimental poet, book-maker and co-founder of the DittoDitto bookstore and publishing house in Corktown. Christopher Yepez, who creates under the name Sacramento Knoxx, describes himself as “an Ojibwe/Anishinaabe and Xicano emcee, music producer, motion picture artist, digital media artist and community cultural worker” from Southwest Detroit. His work is a synthesis of multiple art forms with an avowed goal of reaching communities of color in particular.


Samiya Bashir: Poet, founding organizer of Fire & Ink, an advocacy organization and writers festival for LGBT writers of African descent, assistant professor of creative writing at Reed College

renée c. hoogland: Writer, professor of English at Wayne State University, editor of Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts

Kim Hunter: Writer, co-director of the Woodward Line Poetry Series, poet-in-residence with InsideOut Literary Arts

Albert Mobilio: Writer, editor for Bookforum, editor for Hyperallergic Weekend, assistant professor of literary studies at the New School’s Eugene Lang College

Anne Waldman: Poet, performer, co-founder of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University


Chakaia Booker: Contemporary sculptor

Sonya Clark: Artist, chair of Craft/Material Studies in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University

Elizabeth Dee: American gallery owner (Elizabeth Dee Gallery), co-founder of Independent (alternative art fair established in New York in 2010, expanding to Brussels in 2016)

Valerie Parks: Painter, educator

Senghor Reid: Painter, filmmaker, artist-in-residence at Cranbrook Schools

For further information, please contact Christina deRoos at 313.664.1151 or

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2014, the Board of Trustees approved 408 awards totaling $242.5 million. That included a $100 million award to theFoundation for Detroit’s Future, a fund created to soften the impact of the city’s bankruptcy on pensioners and safeguard cultural assets at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A total $138.1 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. In addition, its Social Investment Practice made commitments totaling $20.4 million in 2014. For more information, visit

Kresge Arts in Detroit which comprises the Kresge Artist Fellowships and Kresge Eminent Artist Award, is generously funded by The Kresge Foundation and administered by the College for Creative Studies.Kresge Arts in Detroit represents one facet of The Kresge Foundation’s Detroit Program, a comprehensive community-development effort to strengthen the long-term economic, social and cultural fabric of the city and surrounding region. The goals of Kresge Arts in Detroit are to enrich the quality of life for metropolitan Detroiters by helping artists provide a broad spectrum of cultural experiences; celebrate and reflect the richness and diversity of our community in all its aspects; heighten the profile of arts and artists in our community; and strengthen the artistic careers of local artists. Since 2008, Kresge Arts in Detroit has recognized 126 Kresge Artist Fellows with $25,000 awards and seven Kresge Eminent Artists with $50,000 awards, a total of $3.5

The College for Creative Studies, located in midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, is a world leader in art and design education that prepares students to enter the new, global economy where creativity shapes better communities and societies. A private, fully accredited college, CCS enrolls more than 1,400 students pursuing Master of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. The College also offers free art education for more than 4,000 Detroit youth annually through its Community Arts Partnerships program. In addition, the College’s Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies is a public charter middle and high school enrolling more than 800 students in a high-performance academic curriculum with a special focus on art and design.

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