Artist Statements | Emerging Artist Scholarship Competition 2024

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Heidi Grace Acuña
Heidi Grace Acuña (they/she/siya) is a Ilokano-Filipino multidisciplinary artist who was raised on O‘ahu.

Symbols, creatures, florals, and colors from her ancestral home in the Philippines and her childhood home of O’ahu are frequent in her work.

Her Ilokano ancestors speak short messages that guide them. Heidi creates to live for their mental health and to honor their ancestral calling.


Jo Cosme
Jo Cosme was displaced from Borikén, Puerto Rico to Seattle, WA a year after Hurricane María’s landfall.

She was struck by the lack of awareness among North Americans regarding their nation’s exploitative and ongoing colonial relationship with her island.

She contrasts widespread perceptions of Puerto Rico as a Caribbean paradise with the trauma of a People under colonial rule.


Amara Eke
Amara Eke is currently finishing her MFA at the University of Washington. She has intentionally intensified an already bright color palette and an artificial materiality to consume viewers’ attention. With striking aesthetics, she strives to compel her audience to linger, and give more than a passing glance.

“Amidst real-world chaos, madness, and confusion, my ambition is to create beams of joy.”


Shruti Ghatak
Shruti Ghatak is an Indian-born Seattle based artist. Her works are inspired by everyday life experiences, conversations and personal memory: displacement, belongings and identity.

“I consider my works as journal pages – a visual autobiography where people, places, objects, memory and imagination collide with no particular order or rule. Change of place has always been a source of inspiration.”


Aramis O. Hamer
Aramis O. Hamer is a Seattle artist inspired by spirituality, nature, and the complexities of Black culture. At fifteen, she discovered her love for acrylic paints. Redirected for a time by practicalities as she pursued a second profession as a nurse, Hamer found her way back to art in 2010.

“I work to present questions around who we value and why. I create portraits of women on large canvas rolls using the full spectrum of the rainbow, integrating imagery of strong, sensual goddesses and cosmic landscapes.”


Suneeva Saldanha
Suneeva Saldanha was born and raised in India. With a lifelong passion for drawing, painting, and crafting, she pursued animation studies and worked as an art facilitator before settling in Seattle to fully dedicate herself to art.

“Through honing Indian miniature style with contemporary nuances, my work delves into sensuality and human connection, employing vibrant colors and intricate details. I aim to create art that celebrates our historically positive relationship with erotica.”


Stephanie Silva Santana is a queer multidisciplinary artist from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico living in Seattle, Washington.

“Linocut printmaking is a way of reinterpreting memory. The images I work on are based on photographs I took when I started my artistic journey. Carving is not random: everything is chosen carefully to explore contrasting effects. Creating a linocut is a ritual, through which I want to honor my Boricua heritage and roots.”


Shima Star
Shima Star (b. 1972, South London, England) is a Seattle-based multimedia artist whose work explores cultural constructs around gender, heritage, motherhood, and color.

Against familial expectations, Shima boldly pursued her passion for art and became the first in her family to attend art college, earning a distinction from the University of Arts in London. She chose the name Shima Star as an act of self-empowerment and a symbolic rejection of patriarchy.


Jay Stoneking
Jay Stoneking is a queer, mixed Vietnamese-American abstract artist and graphic novelist living and working in Seattle. Primarily self-taught, his creative practice touches traditional and digital mediums, design, and storytelling. Raised as a girl in his immigrant Vietnamese family, Jay draws deeply from his complicated relationship living between cultures and genders.

“My work is both art and occult, weaving fantasy, sorcery, and mysticism into the rituals, symbols, and forms of my practice.”


Alana Vu
Allen Vu is a documentary and fine art photographer from Seattle. He strives to raise awareness of all the juggling and balancing of dual identity Asian-American youth are forced to master. The Cộng Sản Kids photographic series is an introspective exploration of the Vietnamese word ‘Cộng Sản,’ which translates to Communist.

“Rooted in my own experiences within a Vietnamese refugee family, the project delves into the deep-seated trauma carried by my parent’s generation due to the Vietnam War.”