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Talley Dunn Gallery launches fellowship to help artists of color navigate the art world

The Talley Dunn Gallery has responded to the Black Lives Matter movement by creating the Talley Dunn Gallery Equity in the Arts Fellowship, which will annually provide three artists of color with a $1,000 cash award, studio visits and a mentorship to help them navigate the often complex contemporary visual art world.

"I think there are a lot of barriers to entry in the contemporary art world. There are a lot of talented artists with the right connections who could go really far, but it is rare for artists of color — particularly Black and indigenous artists — to have those connections," says Kimberly Yu, a gallery associate who helped create the program.

Talley Dunn Gallery, whose multicultural team consists of owner Talley Dunn, Trini Martinez, Meredith Leyendecker, Ari Brielle Edwards and Kimberly Yu, has been working with artists of color since before this movement, but it wanted to make a long-term commitment to artists of color in North Texas. Edwards, who is a talented painter in addition to being a gallery associate, was particularly excited about how the gallery can support artists outside of just money.

"We wanted to add a little bit more for Black people, specifically, because we often don't have a sense of how this fine art world works," says Edwards, who goes by the name Ari Brielle in her art career.

Kimberly Yu (left) and Ari Brielle Edwards, gallery associates at Talley Dunn Gallery, say the fellowships are part of a long-term commitment to artists of color in North Texas.Kimberly Yu (left) and Ari Brielle Edwards, gallery associates at Talley Dunn Gallery, say the fellowships are part of a long-term commitment to artists of color in North Texas.(Nan Coulter / Special Contributor)

Yu agrees, saying, "A program like this can be life-changing for the artists who are chosen, to build a foundation for their networks, and really get their foot in the door. Historically, the people who have been given those opportunities are people who can afford a master program or who are connected through family friends, and this can open the door for people who do not have those resources."

The fact that the gallery committed the funds and resources for the next five years helps signal the seriousness of its commitment to support local artists of color. Dunn hopes that other galleries and art institutions will also do what they can to make a difference.

"I hope it inspires others to do what they can do. It [the fellowship] is nothing big, but it is what I can do. Act now, make a pledge, make a difference and continue it — make it ongoing and a commitment," Dunn says.

The application, which is open through July 27 and available to emerging artists of color 18 and older, seeks to move the needle forward for the artists it selects. "What I am searching for are artists that don't have a break, but they need the break. I want to find that person that would really benefit from some encouragement," Dunn says.

Edwards hopes that artists will take advantage of this new opportunity. "It was done with a lot of love. We worked on the language, took our time. Kim and I really want it to be a shift. We hope it will be a start in Dallas of a shift," Edwards says.

To learn more about the Talley Dunn Gallery Equity in the Arts Fellowship, which will annually provide three artists of color with a $1,000 cash award, studio visit and mentorship, visit talleydunn.com/talley-dunn-gallery-equity-in-the-arts-fellowship.

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