The Arts Commission Announces 2021 Merit Awards Recipients

Kimberly Mack – Photo courtesy Dan Miller

The Arts Commission announced the recipients of the 2021 Merit Awards, Hoseok Youn (Visual Arts, Glass), Kimberly Mack (Literary Arts), Ashley Pryor Geiger (Visual Arts, Collage), and Brenda Singletary (Visual Arts, Mixed Media).

The Merit Award program recognizes outstanding local literary, performing and visual artists, rewarding the many hours and personal resources each artist dedicates to their artform. Four awards are given: one $2,500 award, two $1,000 awards and one $500 award. Recipients are selected by a panel of renowned artists and cultural leaders from around the Midwest, with a range of expertise across artistic disciplines.

The 2021 review panel included Tizziana Baldenebro, Ashley Stanton and Juana Williams. Each panelist expressed her appreciation for and recognition of the pool of talented artists in Toledo.

Juana Williams shared a response to her experience by stating that, “The wide array of media and themes depicted in the submissions gave me a pleasant sense of the outstanding artwork being created in the Toledo area. While the selection process was difficult, the group of award winners portrays a diversity of artists who have impressive careers and profound artwork— all very deserving of the Merit Award. I was honored to have the opportunity to learn about many new artists and works of art, and to play a role in the continued support The Arts Commission offers to local artists.”


Kimberly Mack: $1,000 Merit Award Recipient Kimberly Mack holds a Ph.D. in English from UCLA, and she is Associate Professor of African American literature and culture at the University of Toledo. She’s the author of Fictional Blues: Narrative Self-Invention from Bessie Smith to Jack White (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020) about autobiographical self-fashioning in contemporary American blues fiction and popular music. Kimberly holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She has received fellowships and scholarships (full and partial) to attend residencies at VCCA, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference (waiter scholarship), and VSC. Her essay, “Johnny Rotten, My Mom, and Me,” was published in Longreads in 2019. Kimberly is currently writing a memoir, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”: A Black Girl’s Musical Journey Across America’s Great Racial and Class Divide.

Brenda Singletary

Brenda Singletary: $500 Merit Award Recipient Brenda attended Morris Brown College BA, Goddard College MFA. Her original artwork reflects forty years of cultural stories with images. Her work is represented by galleries and corporate collections such as AT&T, Marriott, and Kaiser-Permanente and others. She has received numerous art awards from organizations such as the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, Atlanta Business League, American Express, United College Fund, and the Daimler-Chrysler Motion through Expression etc. Brenda served two years as a panel judge and educational guest speaker for the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. Her artwork is a part of the White House Art Collection. The Arts Commission Merit Awards program is generously sponsored by ProMedica, the Ohio Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hoseok Youn

Hoseok Youn: $2,500 Merit Award Recipient Hoseok Youn is a glass artist and current studio artist at Glass Pavilion, Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio. Youn holds his BFA degree in glass from Namseoul University in South Korea and MFA degree in glass from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in Illinois, USA. His work has received various scholarships including Corning Museum of Glass, Pittsburgh Glass Center, and Pilchuck Glass School. His work has been exhibited to several juried shows in California, Texas, Glass Art Society, and St. Louis, Missouri.


Ashley Pryor Geiger: $1,000 Merit Award Recipient Ashley Pryor Geiger is an artist-philosopher whose practice is rooted in the artistic tradition of collage, which she believes is best suited democratic practice and broadened community participation. Geiger actively seeks out collaborative projects with a community-engagement focus. Her practice is rooted in the artistic tradition of collage, which she believes is best suited to democratic practice and broadened community participation. Geiger integrates collage-making in her classes at the University of Toledo. She has also worked with displaced and disenfranchised people through the International Samaritan program, as well as within the Toledo Correctional Institution, where she regularly teaches. Geiger’s work has been widely published and exhibited. Most recently The Holding Project – in collaboration with Barbara Miner, MFA and Lee Fearnside, MFA appeared at The Momentum Arts Festival in Toledo, Ohio. Ashley holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and is an Associate Professor of the Humanities at the University of Toledo.

Ashley Pryor Geiger