Three Artist Fellows from Jamaica Plain Awarded $10K City Grants

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Three Jamaica Plain artists received $10,000 grants as part of Boston’s second round of Artist Fellowship Awards.

The Artist Fellowship Awards is a pilot program, "...that invests in mid-career individual artists living and working in Boston."

“As we work to ensure that local artists can thrive in the city of Boston, it’s so important to have programs like this that support artists creative contributions to our city,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture, via press release. “We’re excited to invest in these artists and give them the opportunity to use this grant in whatever way is most meaningful to them.”

The three Jamaica Plain artists who received grants are Billy Dean Thomas, Shubha Sunder, and Paloma Valenzuela.

The following was provided by the city about the award recipients:

Billy Dean Thomas

Billy Dean Thomas, aka “The Queer B.I.G,” is a hip-hop recording artist and composer born and raised in Harlem, but currently residing in Boston. Billy challenges the music industry with polyrhythmic flows that align with intersectional feminism, social justice and the difficulties of growing up in NYC. After sharing their story on ABC’s The View and releasing their debut EP “Rocky Barboa,” they have been nominated for four Boston Music Awards, completed the 2018 MASS MOCA Residency, and have performed at venues such as The Brooklyn Museum, Spotify, and The House of Blues Boston.

Paloma Valenzuela

Paloma Valenzuela is a Dominican-American writer, director and actress from Boston. She is the creative director of La Gringa Loca Productions, and she created the comedic web series "The Pineapple Diaries". Paloma was featured in Boston Magazine's "Boston's New Creative Guard" and was selected as one of the WBUR The Artery 25. She has collaborated with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and is currently working on post-production for the third season of "The Pineapple Diaries." She also works as a teaching artist at GrubStreet in Boston.

Shubha Sunder

Shubha Sunder grew up in Bangalore, India, and currently lives in Jamaica Plain. She is a writing instructor at GrubStreet whose prose has appeared in places like Lenny Letter, The Bare Life Review, Crazyhorse, Narrative Magazine, and Michigan Quarterly Review. Two of her stories were named as notable in The Best American Short Stories 2016 anthology. In 2016 she was also named a Mass Cultural Council Fellow. Other distinctions include the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize, Narrative “30 Below,” and awards from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and from The Corporation of Yaddo.