Vera Nakonechny, 2008 Pew Fellow, Named NEA National Heritage Fellow

Vera Nakonechny, 2008 Pew Fellow. Directed by Glenn Holsten.

Vera Nakonechny, a 2008 Pew Fellow who preserves and teaches Ukrainian textile techniques, has been named a 2014 NEA National Heritage Fellow. National Heritage Fellowships are the nation’s highest honor for individuals who have made “major contributions to the excellence, vitality, and public appreciation of the folk and traditional arts.”

This year’s National Heritage Fellows follow a theme of exposure to the arts at a young age, such as Nakonechny, “whose fascination with her mother’s embroidery inspired her to seek out training when she was older,” says NEA Chairman Jane Chu. The NEA’s press release includes other folk artists like Henry Arquette, a Mohawk basketmaker, Yvonne Walker Keshick, an Odawa quill worker, and Carolyn Mazloomi, a quilting community advocate. Read more >

Nakonechny grew up in Brazil and Philadelphia, where she learned intricate Ukrainian embroidery, beadwork, weaving, and other traditional forms from her mother, as well as from the Ukrainian Women’s League of America and artists like Eudokia Sorochaniuk, a 1999 National Heritage Fellow. She returned to Ukraine in 1991 to study with master artists and teach textile skills that were at risk of being lost after Soviet Union control of the region. Nakonechny is an associate to the National Center of Folk Culture in Kyiv, and the recipient of a 2007 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship, a 2008 Pew Fellowship, and a 2011 Leeway Foundation Transformational Award. “We have become one big family, on two sides of the world, puzzling over this art form that was supposed to be lost,” she is quoted on her NEA Fellowship page. Read more >

Update, July 30: Nakonechny’s work is characterized by its careful diligence, from the intricate details of her embroidery to the depth of her research across the villages of Ukraine. Lini S. Kadaba, in a feature for the Philadelphia Inquirer, describes “yards of yarn, goose feathers by the fistful, even a few cowrie shells—with these and more, Vera Nakonechny painstakingly re-creates a past that is quickly slipping away.” Read more >

References

Grants & Grantees

In 1994 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 16 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 34 dance and music organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

Grants & Grantees

Richard Torchia is a visual artist and a 1994 Pew Fellow, and the director of the Arcadia University Art Gallery.

Grants & Grantees

Two of India’s preeminent artists, Carnatic vocalist T.M. Krishna and bharata natyam dancer Priyadarsini Govind, will fuse classical South Indian music and dance in a world premiere that is the culmination of a two-year artistic collaboration, and is inspired by themes of liberty and freedom drawn from Philadelphia’s history.

Five Pew Fellows have been awarded artist residencies in 2014, part of the ongoing partnership between The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the Alliance of Artists Communities, and four North American artist residency programs.

Grants & Grantees

Glen Weldon is a writer and a 1994 Pew Fellow.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Maria Bauman is the founder and artistic director of MBDance, which has received Harlem Stage Fund for New Work awards through the Jerome Foundation, among other honors. Bauman served on the Center’s Performance panel in 2014 and 2015.

Grants & Grantees

In 2004 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 76 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.

Grants & Grantees

Tristin Lowe is an installation artist and a 1995 Pew Fellow.

This month, Afaa Michael Weaver is awarded the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, Joshua Mosley’s work appears at the Whitney Biennial, King Britt curates at MoMA PS1, and much more.

Dancer, choreographer, and 2013 Pew Fellow Raphael Xavier takes hip-hop techniques from the street to the stage and tells the autobiographical story defined by sacrifice, passion, and transcendence.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Leigh Ann Hahn plays a crucial role in Grand Performances’ capacity to fund and present up to 70 performances and themed festivals each summer.

Grants & Grantees

Ken Kalfus is a 2009 Pew Fellow and the author of two collections of stories, Thirst and Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies, both of which were New York Times notable books.