#BlackVisionaries Awards Grants to Black Creators Inspiring Change

Posted inCulturally-Related Design

Today, InstagramThe Brooklyn Museum, and Antwaun Sargent‘s #BlackVisionaries have honorably joined forces to present $650,000 in grants to Black artists and designers around the United States. The grants also include five $100,000 Visionary Small Business Grants for American, Black-led organizations focused on design.

Instagram’s Black Visionaries program was founded to empower, honor, and invest in creative Black voices, and the winners were selected from almost 2,000 applicants. “Community builds community, and that’s the intentionality behind what we’re trying to establish here,” stated Antwaun Sargent, writer, curator, and #BlackVisionaries Creative Chair. “It is the financial support, mentorship, connections, and the emphasis on storytelling that, combined, are meant to provide a framework for the boundless development of these recipients.” 

The grant recipients were determined by a commission of artists and designers spearheaded by Antwaun Sargent, including Elle Decor Editor-in-Chief Asad Syrkett, Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth Carter, and Head of Design at Instagram Ian Spalter.

The PRINT Team is honored to present the list of recipients below in hopes that Black voices continue to shine and feel supported in the creative community. 

The #BlackVisionaries program aims to uplift, center and invest in Black voices and organizations working across art and design. This year, $650,000 in grants have been awarded to ten Black artists, designers, and small businesses, including five $100,000 Visionary Small Business Grants for Black-led organizations in the US and five $30,000 Emerging Visionary Grants for US-based individuals focused on art and design.

As part of this year’s program, the Brooklyn Museum and Instagram will also provide mentorship to each grant recipient in partnership with Mobile Makers, a nonprofit organization that offers youth design and skill-building workshops in Chicago and Boston communities. 

This year’s grant recipients were selected by a committee of artists and designers led by curator and writer Antwaun Sargent, including Elle Decor Editor-in-Chief Asad Syrkett, Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth Carter, and Head of Metaverse Design, Ian Spalter.

$100,000 Visionary Small Business Grant Recipients

Black Fashion Fair

Antoine Gregory

New York, NY 


Photo by Elias Williams

Black Fashion Fair is a conceptual retail, educational, and cultural experience aimed toward the discovery and furtherance of Black designers. Through cultivating retail spaces and experiences, Black Fashion Fair supports the ideas and continued growth of Black designers and Black-owned brands.

Dark Matter University

Jerome Haferd

North America


Dark Matter University (DMU) is a BIPOC-led, anti-racist design justice network collectively seeking the radical transformation of education and practice toward a just future. Formed during summer 2020 in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and others, DMU is founded to work inside and outside of existing systems to challenge, inform, and reshape our world. 

Jerome W Haferd is a Black, LGBTQ+ architect, public artist, and educator based in Harlem, NY and the Hudson Valley. He is one of the core initiators of Dark Matter University. In addition to DMU, Jerome is founder of his own practice and co-directs the architecture studio BRANDT : HAFERD.  Haferd’s work critically engages with historically marginalized subjects, built environments, and non-hegemonic histories to unlock a new imaginary for architecture. Haferd is an assistant professor at CCNY Spitzer School of Architecture and an affiliated faculty at Columbia and Yale University. His recent projects include BLK BOX, an experimental arts and performance venue and Beautiful Browns, awarded second prize in the 2021 OnOlive emerging Black architect housing competition.


Elizabeth Karp-Evans 

Brooklyn, NY


Photo by Elias Williams

Pacific is a multidisciplinary creative studio and publishing house based in New York City. The studio was founded by Elizabeth Karp-Evans and Adam Turnbull in 2017. Our work is centered on creating design and communication systems that innovate and build community at the intersection of art, publishing, placemaking, technology, and culture. The studio’s creative vision is divorced from medium: the spaces and objects that we make—on- and offline—are envisioned in service to the communities who will connect via them. Our mission is to cultivate long-lasting creative relationships that result in community and individual growth, new modes of social exploration and engagement, and enduring objects in the hands of the public. Pacific’s work in publication design is held in the collections of MoMA, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Princeton Library and the New York Public Library.

Elizabeth Karp-Evans, Principle, has fifteen years of editorial and design experience that includes lead creative strategy, design and production for brands and special projects, marketing, project management and creative consulting. She is passionate about envisioning, building and improving communication systems across print and digital that function outside the confines of European design theory. Recent speaking engagements include the US National Museum Publishing Seminar, the Glasgow School or Art and New Museum’s New Inc.


Paul Hill 

New York, NY


Photo by Elias Williams

In 2021, at the age of 22, Paul Hill founded Strada – a NYC based art gallery and online marketplace creating equitable opportunities for young emerging artists. At Strada, our physical exhibitions serve as platforms for BIPOC, women, non-binary, and Gen-Z artists who are overlooked by the current art market. By fostering a community, providing resources, and creating an online marketplace, we’ve reinvented the art world to be inclusive of the people within it.

The Black School

Joseph Cuillier 

Shani Peters 

New Orleans, LA 


Photo by Taylor S. Hunter
Photo assistant:Renia Johnson

The Black School: Design Studio is a full service design firm and consultancy specializing in community-centered graphic design. We use a community-engaged approach to design products, environments, experiences, and systems. It is our mission to apply experimental and iterative creative problem solving processes to real world issues in an attempt to connect with communities and their needs. We believe that a more just and equitable future is possible when we harness our creativity as a force of positive impact. 

The Black School, founded by Joseph Cuillier and Shani Peters in 2016, teaches Black history and creativity using a 3-part ecosystem including art workshops (The Black School), a festival (Black Love Fest), and a design firm (TBS:Design Studio). Since 2016 we’ve taught 500+ students in 100+ workshops, produced 4 Black Love Festivals with 4,000+ attendees, and trained 25 apprentices. Based on our programmatic success we’re building The Black Schoolhouse in my hometown of New Orleans. This building will house our education programming, design firm, and festival in addition to a library/meditation room, maker space, community garden (started Spring 2022), and gallery. 

Joseph Cuillier is a multidisciplinary artist working at the intersections of Black radical pedagogy, visual art, activism, and design. Currently based in New Orleans, Cuillier received a bachelor’s from Prairie View A&M University and a MFA from Pratt Institute and previously held faculty positions at Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute, and Purchase College. His work has been exhibited, collected, and presented internationally at New Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, The Museum of Modern Art Library, Bauhaus Dessau, and The Bronx Museum of the Arts. Cuillier is the co-director of The Black School and Black Love Fest NOLA.

Shani Peters is a multidisciplinary artist based in New Orleans, LA. She holds a bachelor’s from Michigan State University and a Master’s of Fine Arts from the City College of New York. Peters has presented work in the US and abroad at the New Museum, NY; The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NY; Seoul Art Space Geumcheon, South Korea; The National Gallery of Zimbabwe; and Bauhaus Dessau, Germany. Peters was a faculty member at The City College of NY, Pratt Institute, and Parsons School of Design before shifting her teaching focus to The Black School which she co-directs.

$30,000 Emerging Visionary Grant Recipients

Albert Hicks IV

Baltimore, MA 


Photo by Elias Williams

Albert L Hicks IV is the co-founder of Ayem, a design and research studio, alongside Marcus Washington Jr. As a studio, Ayem explores how communities, spaces, and objects shape culture, language, and perspective.  

Anaïs Duplan

Troy, NY 


Photo by Elias Williams

Anaïs Duplan is a trans poet, curator, and artist. He is the author of newly released book I NEED MUSIC (Action Books, 2021), a book of essays, Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture (Black Ocean, 2020), a full-length poetry collection, Take This Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016), and a chapbook, Mount Carmel and the Blood of Parnassus (Monster House Press, 2017). He is a professor of postcolonial literature at Bennington College, and has taught poetry at The New School, Columbia University, and Sarah Lawrence College, amongst others. As an independent curator, he has facilitated curatorial projects in Chicago, Boston, Santa Fe, and Reykjavík. He was a 2017-2019 joint Public Programs fellow at the Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem, and in 2021 received a Marian Goodman fellowship from Independent Curators International for his research on Black experimental documentary. He is the recipient of the 2021 QUEER|ART|PRIZE for Recent Work, and a 2022 Whiting Award in Nonfiction.

Christopher Joshua Benton

Cambridge, MA 


Photo by Elias Williams

Christopher Joshua Benton (b. 1988, Virginia) is an American artist based in Abu Dhabi and Cambridge, working in film and installation. Christopher works closely with communities to instigate collaboration and share stories of power, labor, and hope. Inspired by his 9 years living in the United Arab Emirates, his research investigates traces of the homeland in the diaspora.

Cornelius Tulloch

Miami, FL


Photo by Melody Timothee

Cornelius Tulloch is a Miami-based interdisciplinary artist and designer. With work transcending the barriers of photography, fine art, and architecture, Cornelius focuses on how creative mediums can be combined to tell powerful stories. His interdisciplinary practice is inspired by Black and Caribbean cultures, histories, and everyday life. Growing up between Miami and Jamaica, he saw how both landscapes influenced his cultural identity. These understandings and concepts of identity as a landscape became the basis of his exploration of his paintings, then architecture studies at Cornell University, and now he combines the fundamentals of both disciplines through implementation of immersive photographic installations. 

Jaline McPherson

Brooklyn, NY 


Photo by Elias Williams

Jaline McPherson is a designer, artist and writer working currently in the field of spatial design seeking to elevate stories of Black cultural landscapes and ethnobotanical histories. Her most recent research co-created an abundant future for the community of Pocahontas Island, the first Black Freedman’s town in the U.S, through use of plants, reimagined public spaces and magic. She believes that through design and storytelling, new found ways of healing and joy can be redefined for Black and born communities. 

Black Visionaries Grant Committee Members

Antwaun Sargent, Creative Chair, (@sirsargent)

Antwaun Sargent is a writer, editor, and curator living in New York City. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, New Yorker, and other publications; in May 2021, he guest-edited the “New Talent” issue of Art in America. Sargent, a director at Gagosian Gallery, New York, is the author of The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion (Aperture) and editor of Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists (DAP).

Ian Spalter, (@ianspalter)

As Director of Metaverse Design, Ian oversees the design of Meta’s Avatars and immersive social products. Ian previously led Instagram’s product group in Japan, and before that was the Head of Design for Instagram, developing both the brand identity and the product design. Ian has held senior leadership roles at Youtube, Foursquare and oversaw groundbreaking design and development projects such as the Nike+ Fuelband and Nike+ Running. Much of this work was recently featured in the Netflix documentary Abstract: The Art of Design season 2. Ian was born and raised in New Rochelle, New York and graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He now resides in Tokyo, Japan with his family.

Ruth E. Carter, (@therealruthecarter)

Ruth E. Carter is the 2019 Academy Award winner in Costume Design for Marvel’s Black Panther, making history as the first African American to win in the category. With a career spanning more than three decades in theater, cinema, and television, Carter has a depth of artistry flowing with creative instincts, passion for culture and history, empathy for people, capacity for research, eye for detail, and ability to deliver the director’s vision while infusing it with her signature, making her one of the most sought-after and renowned costume designers in the world.

Asad Syrkett, (@as4d)

Asad Syrkett is the editor-in-chief of ELLE Decor. Previously, he was deputy editor at Curbed, where he oversaw the design website’s senior staff and special projects. Syrkett has guest-lectured at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, served as a juror for the National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors, and appeared on panels at Design Miami and South by Southwest, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Christopher John Rogers, (@​​christopherjohnrogers)

Christopher John Rogers launched his eponymous brand with his senior thesis collection at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Since then, the brand has received international placements in Vogue, WWD, T Magazine, and ELLE, along with prominent celebrity placements on Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Lil Nas X. In 2019, Rogers was the recipient of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund’s top prize, and named one of Forbes 30 Under 30. He was named American Emerging Designer of the Year at the 2020 CFDA Fashion Awards, and in 2021, he became a finalist for the LVMH Prize.

Alexandria Smith, (@alexandriasmithstudio) 

Alexandria Smith, head of painting at the Royal College of Art, makes innovative mixed-media works that address issues of identity and growth within a constantly evolving personal cosmology.   

Taofeek Abijako, (@feek____), (@headofstate)

Taofeek Abijako was a 2021 Black Visionaries recipient. Abijako, who was born in Nigeria, is a multidisciplinary artist recognized for his ability to express social and political commentary using personal narratives, material study and historical contexts. Abijako founded his brand, Head of State, when he was just 17 — and this year, his work has landed on the Met Gala red carpet, in film and theater productions and with influential retailers. Head of State is more than a fashion brand; it’s a representation of postcolonial youth culture. Its sales provide funding for a variety of initiatives dedicated to helping underserved communities build sustainable futures.

Maya Bird-Murphy (@mayabirdmurphy)  

Maya Bird-Murphy is a designer, educator, and the founder and Executive Director of Mobile Makers Chicago, an award-winning nonprofit organization bringing design-focused skill-building workshops to underrepresented communities.