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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

Alumnus Receives Take Notice Fund

Congratulations to alumnus Vitus Shell on being a recipient of 2022’s Take Notice Fund.

Vitus Shell is a mixed-media collage painter born and currently residing and working in Monroe, Louisiana. His work is geared toward humanizing and normalizing the Black experience, giving agency and visibility to people from his community through powerful mixed-media portraiture that samples, deconstructs, and remixes identity in relation to history, civil rights, and contemporary Black culture. He also co-created the Black Creative Circle of North Louisiana to build an authentic support network for Black creatives. Shell received a BFA from Memphis College of Art in 2000 and an MFA from the University of Mississippi in 2008.

The National Performance Network is thrilled to announce the second cohort of the Take Notice Fund, honoring artists of color in Louisiana. NPN envisions a world in which artists of color living and working in the South have the power, resources, and opportunities to thrive. The Take Notice Fund is part of NPN’s Southern Programs and expands upon this critical vision for the South.

The Take Notice Fund is a pilot program awarding $5,000 grants to artists and culture bearers of color living and working in Louisiana. Grant funds are unrestricted and intended to support an artist’s creative practice and/or well-being. The fund seeks to allow artists to determine that they need to thrive creatively, professionally, and personally. “This grant recognizes that an artist or culture bearer’s practice is supported from many components of that artist’s life,” says NPN Director of Southern Programs Stephanie Atkins. “It’s not just being in the studio. We give these unrestricted funds so they can determine how to direct those funds, to support what they need to spend this money on so they can get closer to doing this work.”

The Take Notice Fund honors artists throughout Louisiana whose bodies of work represent excellence, dedication to their practices, and contributions to this country’s discourse about racial justice and cultural preservation. Atkins highlighted the awardees’ steady commitment to their work: “The award honors those who have decided, ‘I’m going to commit my life to this artistic practice, to always learning, to observing what’s going on in my community and the world.’ It comes down to excellence—these artists are pushing the needle further. There is work in this cohort that is fresh and unapologetic, that captures where we are right now as a society.”

By focusing on Louisiana, NPN aims to deepen the pool of direct funding opportunities for artists in our state, and hopes to develop the Take Notice Fund into a long-term annual grant program. With generous funding from the Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression program, the Take Notice Fund brings resources directly to creative practitioners. “I’m just proud that NPN is committed to supporting BIPOC artists and that a national funder like the Ford Foundation is helping us do the work,” said Atkins. “I’m just proud of it.”