Artists to Work Grantees

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Artists to Work Program supports the creation and presentation of original, new or in-process artistic work by practicing Phoenix artists.  

For this first round, we received over 150 applications for the two-step application process. Only 49 applicants moved to the second step​, and only 20 were recommended funding. The awarded artists will complete a public presentation inside city of Phoenix boundaries that primarily benefits Phoenix residents. ​

 Awarded Artists

Meet the 2022 Artists to Work awarded artists. These artists will be working on an art project during the year 2023 and will hold a public presentation in January 2024.

alejandro acierto

Photo credit:  Colleen Keihm​
Discipline:  Visual art (or interdisciplinary artist)

alejandro t. acierto is an artist, musician, and curator whose work is largely informed by legacies of colonialism found within human relationships to technology and material cultures. Working within and across expanded forms of documentary, new media, creative scholarship, and sound, his works have been shown internationally at the Havana Biennial in Matanzas, Cuba, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), ISSUE (NYC), Radialsystem (Berlin), and MCA Chicago, among others. He is Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance at Arizona State University, New College located on ceded territories of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh peoples.

Jada Renée Allen

Photo credit: Jada Renée Allen
Discipline: Literary arts and multidisciplinary arts


Jada Renée Allen is a writer, educator, and two-headed Black girl from Chicago, Illinois. A 2022 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest winner, she has received fellowships, scholarships, and support from Tin House, the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, Community of Writers, and VONA, among others. Her work either appears or is forthcoming in the Academy of American Poets' “Poem-a-Day," Hayden's Ferry Review, Paris Review Daily, Virginia Quarterly Review, Wildness, and elsewhere. She has received grants from the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Currently, she lives on U.S.-occupied O'odham Jewed, Akimel O'odham, and Hohokam lands.

Diana Calderon

Photo credit: KatieAnn Franklin, 2020
Discipline: Interdisciplinary art


Diana Calderon is an interdisciplinary artist and educator. Her art explores the human condition, ancestral roots (personal history, stories, location), her migrant journey, processes, disrupting traditional instruction and personal filters or patterns. Calderon's pieces can be described as archiving and documenting on abstract books, creating sculptural installations, performance art, sometimes murals. She holds a BFA in intermedia plus one year and summer-mester towards an MFA. Calderon is a former charter school administrator currently teaching creative workshops for all stages and coaching developing professionals. Has been featured in Southwest Contemporary Magazine, KJZZ Fronteras Desk & Sounds of The City, ASU State Press,, as well as speaker for Creative Mornings.​

Isaac Caruso

Photo credit:  Kelly Ferry
Discipline: Murals / storytelling for experimentation / innovation


Hello, my name is Isaac Nicholas Caruso. I’m a 34 year old artist and creative director born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I am currently creating the first picture book ever illustrated entirely with murals. 52 pages of the book are being painted across my home state, all telling one cohesive story. It is a love letter to the Southwest and a book written for the neurodivergent demographic. I hope it will inspire people of all ages who, like me, love to daydream.​

Joshua Castañeda

Photo credit: Isaac Torres
Discipline: Multi-disciplinary


Being inspired by public artwork I began working with artists around me, learning, as well as refining my skills through various mediums. With those lessons I found my artistic voice. I use the world around me to represent a moment in time with small visual icons, connecting moments to a physical tangible object. Today I am currently living and working in Phoenix Arizona using my projects to connect with the community through art.

Raquel Denis


Photo credit: 𝖢𝗁𝗋𝗂𝗌𝗍𝖺𝗅 𝖠𝗇𝗀𝖾𝗅𝗂𝗊𝗎𝖾 𝖯𝖺𝗌𝗁𝖺𝗂𝖺𝗇

Discipline: Music/poetry


Raquel Denis is a singer-songwriter and poet based in Akimel O'otham land. Her heart-centered folk songs range from meditative to visceral and offer raw expressions of grief, worth, forgiveness, defiance and familial love.

Francisco Diaz

Discipline: Upcycle and textile art 


Francisco Diaz is a slow fashion sewist and founder of Thems. - a queer collective aimed at amplifying queer creativity in Phoenix and beyond.

Estrella Esquilín

Photo credit: Zhane'l Speaks
Discipline: Multi-disciplinary visual art


Estrella Esquilín (she/her) is a multi-disciplinary visual artist, arts administrator, and independent cultural strategist with experience working to support arts workers within large and small universities, local government and nonprofit organizations. Esquilín is intuitively inspired by spatial justice with a curiosity for how people interact with, relate to, and impact each other in built and natural environments. She embeds her values of integrity, compassion, candor, community, service and creativity into her studio practice, administrative processes and creative professional development to narrow gaps of inequity within the arts and culture sector. She holds a Master of Fine Art degree in Interdisciplinary Studio Art from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Fine Art in Printmaking from Kansas City Art Institute.

Fausto Fernandez

Photo credit: Michael Woodall
Discipline: Mixed media paintings and site-specific public art


Fausto Fernandez was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, he currently lives in Phoenix Arizona. His artworks include a variety of paintings, public art, and community engagement projects.

Fernandez ideas develop from questioning his upbringing and are inspired by communities and societies that expand beyond his cultural identity. He has created artworks inspired by mathematical equations, technology, preservation of culture and mythology.

In Arizona, his paintings are included in the collection of The Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum and Tucson Museum of Art. Public art works include Scottsdale Public Art Canal Convergence; the terrazzo floor at The Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport; a sculpture at Helios Educational Foundation; and a sculpture for the Alamar park in Avondale.

Aileen Frick


Discipline: Mixed media


Aileen Frick is a 2D mixed media collage artist that creates art using torn pieces of magazines and handmade paper, overlaid with acrylic, and oil paints. The influence of impressionism is reflected in the use of paper which at a distance mimic palette knife. She allows her intuition to guide the selection of printed materials for collage. Close up, the collage pieces become more focused, and the viewer discovers the messages that are included in the imagery. The result weaves in words and images that tell a story whose meaning reflects the intention of the final piece.

Erin Kong


Photo credit: Ceci Cruz
Discipline: Culture worker - music, poetry, performance


Erin Kong is a diasporic Korean interdisciplinary culture worker based in so-called phoenix, arizona. Their work explores family mythology, vengeance, and love. Their independent music project, 'DOE', was released in summer 2022 under the name SOOJUNG. Their work is forthcoming in Sonora Review, and they have been featured as a visual artist at Modified Arts. They love boiling-hot soups, crying, and making music. [] or @soojungsoup on Instagram. 

John Lafferty

Photo credit: Criss Robles (IG: @akidnamedcriss)
Discipline: Multi-disciplinary art

Born in Phoenix with Lakota roots, John Lafferty is a multi-disciplinary artist that blends modern design and traditional indigenous motifs via his brand, YEK.

Through fashion and other forms of design, John provides a sense of spiritual protection to all that receive and carry his products. A microcosm and affirmation for the safety of home that is always with us as we step out into the world.
John believes art is where community meets creativity. His constant experimentation and innovation continue to give birth to new styles, designs and ideas, hopefully creating an impact and influencing the following generation.

Charissa Lucille

Photo credit: Josh Loeser
Discipline: Multimedia art


Charissa Lucille is a multimedia artist who earned their BFA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University in 2014. They are currently sewing, self publishing, and running Wasted Ink Zine Distro and Paper Jam + Print. Lucille uses textiles, photography, bookmaking and zines to explore their identity and activism as it relates to disability, neurodiversity, and queerness. Their artwork has been exhibited locally at Northlight Gallery, First Studio Gallery, and Raiz Gallery and has been published in Love Quilting Magazine, UPPERCASE Magazine, Bolt Zine, Femme Fotale, among others. Find their work at [].

Gloria Martinez-Granados

Photo credit: Sam Gomez
Discipline: Interdisciplinary art


Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, raised and based in Phoenix, Arizona. Gloria is an interdisciplinary artist creating with indigenous practices, adding a contemporary approach by including printmaking, assemblage, installation and performance to the more traditional arts of beadwork and weaving. Through this process, she develops themes around identity, dreams, place, home and land.

In 2019 she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking from Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Martinez-Granados is currently exhibiting at the Phoenix Art Museum from September 2022 till May 2023 as a recipient of the inaugural Sally and Richard Lehmann Emerging Artists Awards Exhibition.

Sean Medlin


Photo Credit: Nina Paz, IG: @ninapazphotography

Discipline: Poetry & Rap


Sean Avery Medlin writes raps, poems, and sometimes essays, while teaching young folks to do the same. Their art questions the limitations of Black masculinity, media representation, and personal narrative. Medlin’s work has been featured in Los Angeles Review of Books, Chicago Tribune, Afropunk, Blavity, and Teen Vogue. 

All of Medlin’s work is available online at []. 808s & Otherworlds: Memories, Remixes, & Mythologies is their debut collection of essays and poetry, available in audio and print everywhere books are sold in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada.

Jessica Palomo

Photo credit: Jeff Chabot
Discipline: Drawing


Jessica Palomo received her BFA in Sculpture from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and her MFA in Drawing from Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Her work deals with the grief of losing a loved one, a trauma that can overload and fracture the conscious mind, causing a shattered emotional state. Through abstraction and mark-making, she explores the dynamics of this ruptured reality that place identity and emotion in a liminal, ambiguous space. Her work has been exhibited internationally at the Palazzo Rinaldi in Italy, the Contemporary Art Space in China and locally at the Phoenix Art Museum and the Tucson Museum of Art in Arizona. Jessica Palomo currently lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona, her work is represented by Bentley Gallery.

Christina Ramirez

Photo credit: Christina Ramirez
Discipline: Painting


Christina Ramirez is a process artist interested in the experimentation of paint, mixed media, and sculpture. Her inspiration is taken from Nature and the light of the AZ skies. She received her painting degree from ASU and exhibits in many alternative spaces and galleries in Phoenix. She has received grants from Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Vermont Studio Center and Contemporary Forum, and was included in the New American City exhibition at the Arizona State University Museum. She lives and works in the historic Garfield Neighborhood with her two children and artist-husband, Brian Boner.

Philip Gabriel Steverson

Photo credit: Philip Steverson
Discipline: Multidisciplinary Artist


Philip Gabriel Steverson is a multi-disciplinary artist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Early signs of creativity presented itself through poetry when he was 10 years old with influence from Langston Hughes. Growing up on the streets of West Philadelphia, Philip experienced more than an average child before the age of fifteen, which matured him faster than his peers. Since his adolescent years, he never allowed his environment, or situation, to influence the paths charted for his future.

By using education, Philip Gabriel honed his artistic practice, experienced different cultures, and built a network of artists that collaborated and supported his future. His growth as a young man is a symbol of hope not only for those following after him, but to himself as he continues to prove his belonging in this world. Philip’s work takes shape through fashion design, poetry, contemporary art and other collaborative outlets. The paintings he creates range from the stigma of institutionalized youths, his religious background, loss, and the highs of being black in America.

Lisa Tolentino

Photo credit: Jill McNamara

Discipline: Multi-disciplinary 


Lisa Tolentino is a conceptual artist, musician and interaction designer in Phoenix. Her work embeds computational and algorithmic processes to create new music, performances, and textile designs that directly innovate on traditional forms from her Filipino heritage.Tolentino co-directs urbanSTEW, a Phoenix-based arts-technology non-profit with award-winning installations commissioned by national and international venues including Phoenix Art and the Heard Museums in Phoenix; Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and the Open Ears Festival in Kitchener, Canada. You can find her performing regularly with music groups Crossing 32nd Street and vocal-electronics duo, Rules of Play. []

Lucretia Torva

Photo credit: Jessica Abril
Discipline: Painting

Lucretia Torva has lived in the “Valley” for 25 years, painting murals from Scottsdale to Chandler, Mesa to Goodyear. She had the good fortune of growing up in Europe, experiencing some well-known highlights of Western Art and Architecture. Upon receiving her MFA, she held a college teaching position for several years at a liberal arts college on the east coast. A circuitous path led her to becoming self employed as an artist in 2000 and she hasn’t looked back. Along with painting for income, she maintains a fine art practice and exhibits her art regularly.



Staff Contact

Sarah León Moreno,
Grants and Community Engagement Director,

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