“My art is rooted in the land that shaped me, and the stories it continuously tells…When I contemplate on the earth, I travel to the past and future simultaneously, and this act of contemplation, ignites my spirit.”
That excerpt from the artist statement by Karen “Koyoltzintli” Miranda-Rivadeneira ’22g (Photography & Related Media) lays bare the passion for ecological protection that has long been central to her artistic practice.
Now, a significant fellowship from the legendary Ford and Mellon Foundations is giving the recent SUNY New Paltz MFA graduate a chance to support artists who are equally committed to environmental causes.
Koyoltzintli, a first-generation American whose family hails from Ecuador, was among the first recipients of the Latinx Artist Fellowship, established by the two foundations in 2021, which provides a $50,000 unrestricted grant that Koyoltzintli intends to use to establish a new foundation for artists like her.
“It’s always been important for me to give back,” Koyoltzintli said. “The idea is to bring artists immersed in nature and the landscape to support the reforestation projects, but also to do their own art inspired by their local surroundings. Ideally, I would like to support artists and also other creative dancers and performers.”
The Ford/Mellon Fellowship represents a fitting next step for Koyoltzintli after her time in the New Paltz Master of Fine Arts program pushed her work in new directions.
She originally came to the College intending to concentrate on photography, but the interdisciplinary curriculum piqued her interest in other forms and media, including ceramics and printmaking.
“Being at New Paltz expanded my horizons to a more multidisciplinary practice,” she said.
Upon graduating, Koyoltzintli explored ways to nurture her creativity further. When she heard about the grant from the Ford Foundation’s CHISPA program for fledgling artists, this seemed like the best route to take.
“I knew this was the first year they would be doing this, and I wanted to take advantage,” she said. “I was so overwhelmed when I won. It was truly an honor.”
Her practice continues to examine the relationship between mind, body and nature, with recent ecologically-themed presentations at Sculpture in the Park in Queens and Manhattan’s Whitney Museum of Art.
About the MFA at New Paltz
The nationally accredited MFA program at SUNY New Paltz, the largest in the SUNY system, offers varied and extensive opportunities for graduate study in a unique setting. The campus features expansive facilities, private and semi-private secure studios, and extensive computer labs and digital fabrication technologies.
The intensive and selective two-year program includes specializations in Ceramics, Metals, Painting and Drawing, Photography & Related Media, Printmaking, and Sculpture. Art Department faculty members are dedicated teachers and practicing artists with significant national reputations.
Our graduate program is more than a collection of students, faculty and facilities; we are a dynamic learning community engaged in and encouraging of authentic research, personal growth and a professionally sustainable art practice.