Tending Space Fellowships for Artists

Hemera Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to introducing secular contemplative views and practices into mainstream society, focusing on education, women and children, and the arts. Hemera develops and invests in strategic initiatives that lead to sustainable systemic cultural change. The Foundation is a private foundation established in September 2007.

The aim of Hemera’s Tending Space Fellowship Program for Artists is to nurture the creative practice of seeing things as they are—and to live and to create from this insight. Toward this end, we will support artists with opportunities for both contemplation and creation. Application is open to those who are deeply engaged with, and have a demonstrable commitment to, an art form and who also have an interest in beginning or deepening a spiritual practice.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Who can apply? (Eligibility requirements.)                                                      
  • Anyone with a demonstrable interest in meditation/prayer/contemplation and the arts may apply.
2. What is the commitment?                                                                                      
  • The time commitment to be a fellow is between 4-6 months. Within that period a fellow commits to: attending a meditation/contemplation retreat and an arts retreat; maintaining regular communication with their art and meditation mentors; regular journaling; two weeks of studio time; a post-retreat dialogue; and one piece of work created and documented with the experience of retreat, mentorship, and the power of art in mind. This work does not have to be based on your fellowship experience, though it should draw on the depth and experience of contemplation and the relationships that has been cultivated. This work is an opportunity to experiment with creating in a new way.
3. What should be included in the application materials?                                              
  • In addition to general information we ask that you provide two short pieces of writing describing why you are applying for this fellowship, and what role art plays in your life and the world. We also ask for an uploaded portfolio. This could take the form of video, still images, audio, or written material.
4. What schools and programs are eligible?                                                         
  • We have a working list of recommended centers and programs however we aim to tailor retreats and workshops to a fellow’s needs.
5.  What is unique about the Tending Space Fellowships for artists?
  • Unlike many traditional fellowships, we are supporting artists with a question in mind. Can art serve to help the world, and if so what does that require of the artist? It is our belief that there are certain practices for the artist that aid this question, such as contemplation, meditation, relaxation, listening, and discipline. As a result, we are providing a context for an artist to investigate those elements on their own and within community.
  • This is also our pilot program year, so much of it is an experiment. We are seeking artists who are committed to, or interested in being committed to, this view of art and life so that we can fine-tune our fellowship and create community as we learn.        
6. How is art viewed in the context of this fellowship program?
  • We believe that art has the capacity to genuinely help our world, to instill it with sanity, love, joy, and beauty. This does not mean that art has to look a certain way, or achieve a standard aesthetic of some kind. (We are not advocating a “love and light” approach to art at all.) It does mean that art needs to be tethered to Truth, according to the logic of the piece being created. We accept that there is an order, a truth, within life and craft. As a viewer, we instinctively know this kind of art when we see it. It might disturb us, cheer us up, or confuse us, but somehow we recognize that we aren’t being lied to. This is refreshing. In today’s art world there is a tremendous amount of energy put into cleverness, shock, and wit in order to build up one’s career or image as an artist. We are advocating another way, perhaps a longer road.
  • How does one cultivate this tether to truth? Our inspiration has been through slowing down, making friends with yourself though meditation and contemplation, spending the time to really master your craft and listen to the materials, and fine-tuning the senses as tools for communication. Most of all, we are interested in supporting you to genuinely find your way.
7. What kind of work/artist does Hemera Foundation want to support?                                
  • At this time there isn’t one kind of work that we are more interested in supporting than another. We will work with an artist who can articulate and demonstrate a genuine interest in living this total artistic life and design a fellowship program that best suits them. The only requirement is that you have a demonstrable commitment to art making as a central part of your life and a desire to purse meditation/contemplation as a part of your art and life.
  • A “demonstrable commitment” does not mean that you are professional or attempting to be professional, necessarily; it means that you have spent time on your craft already and experienced the road of creativity enough to supply some body of work illustrative of your artistic interest. We will not be supporting craft development with this fellowship, so it is important that the artist already has a strong sense of the mechanics and lineage of the craft that they are engaged in.
8. How does Hemera Foundation define “artist?” Or “contemplative artist?” 
  • In this context, the definition of “artist” is one who is meeting their craft with the view and practice of meditation. It is not necessarily someone who is paid for his or her work. However, it is also not someone who is engaged in a craft with only personal interests, ex. therapeutic interests. “Artist” may also be extended to someone who is living their daily life with a sense of awareness and creativity.
9. How often are the Tending Space Fellowships offered? 
  • Once per year, running from June through December.
10. What kind of projects does Hemera Foundation NOT support?                                          
  • There are no art forms that we will automatically rule out. It’s also possible that an artist has a project that they would like to devote time to starting or finishing. If this is the case, we would like to dialogue with you about how it might be impacted by this amount of retreat and support, and if you are open to it changing as you go.
11. What about collaborative projects?                 
  • The fellowship program is open to groups and ensembles but the dollar amount provided will not change, so the total will be divided among the members (i.e., allocated to the group as a whole and not the individual members).
12. What are the review criteria?                                                                             
  • The review will be based on a combination of need, interest and experience.