Art Professor One of Five in Kentucky to Receive Al Smith Fellowship

Vandenberg photo

Eastern Kentucky University art professor Melissa Vandenberg recently received the prestigious Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship.

The Fellowship, which comes with a $7,500 prize, is given to artists who exemplify excellence in their respective disciplines. Vandenberg, one of five recipients to receive the award from the Kentucky Arts Council, was honored in the visual arts category for her work as a sculptor.

Vandenberg is a multidisciplinary artist and teacher whose work has been exhibited across the United States. Since 2009, she has been an assistant professor in EKU’s Department of Art and Design, where she coordinates the Department’s Foundations Area for first-year students and teaches design and other classes. Previously, she was part of the art departments at Rhodes College in Tennessee and Indiana State University. Vandenberg earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the College for Creative Studies in her native Detroit in 1999 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2005.

“The distinction of an Al Smith Fellowship is both an affirmation and motivation,” Vandenberg said. “The funds acknowledge previous efforts while supporting further artistic inquiry. I thank the Kentucky Arts Council for standing up for hard work and experimental creativity. I am beaming with pride over this recognition.”

The Fellowship, named in honor of former Arts Council chair and Kentucky journalist Al Smith, recognizes professional artists who have reached a high level of achievement in their careers. Since its beginning in 1983, the program has provided more than $2.5 million in funding to artists in the visual arts, literary arts, media arts, composing and choreography. 

Published on July 20, 2015

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