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“To be sovereign is to not be subject to another’s authority, another’s desires, or another’s gaze but rather to be the author of one’s own history.” – Simone Leigh

“Liberty without responsibility is not real liberty.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Sovereignty, the theme for the 2024 SFAI International Thematic Residency, calls for artistic and creative engagement at the multiple intersections of sovereignty as it pertains to the individual, jurisdictions, systems, and society as a whole.

SFAI supports the expression of differing perspectives regarding the role of the artist, creative practitioner, and culture bearer in shaping and being shaped by social and political conditions. As the US Supreme Court and other international political bodies in the world debate, restrict, and claim autonomy over the body, community, and the ability to self-govern, we seek proposals that articulate a response as a creative call to action and challenge imperial and colonial concepts of sovereignty that have laid claim to land and personhood.

Residency Fees

All fees are waived for the 2024 International Thematic Residency program.

Applications due

April 9, 2023

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We seek proposals for artwork, creative actions, and research that:

  • Speak to jurisdiction and the ability to self-govern;
  • Explore various concepts around sovereignty, including land and treaty rights, cultural appropriation, gender and bodily autonomy, ethnolinguistics and language revitalization, and control over the dissemination and governance of content; and
  • Explore interdependencies or divisions which change sovereign relationships.


SFAI will continue our BIPOC award program, providing $500 grants to all applicants who are selected for the 2024 Sovereignty thematic residency program, who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

Indigenous AWARD

SFAI recognizes the particular history and contemporary realities of Indigenous people in the United States related to sovereignty and lack of self-determination. As part of the 2024 thematic residency program, SFAI will award up to ten (10) $500 grants to American Indian, Native American or U.S. Indigenous applicants who are selected for the 2024 Sovereignty thematic residency program, in addition to the BIPOC Award.

Creative Access Fellowship

Thanks to support from the Craig H. Nielsen Foundation, SFAI is thrilled to re-instate our Creative Access Fellowship program, offering 2-4 week fellowships to up to four (4) artists with spinal cord injuries who are selected for the 2024 Sovereignty thematic residency program. The Creative Access Fellowship includes a $1,000 stipend to each selected artist as well as an extra room for a personal care assistant (PCA) and a $1,000 travel stipend for the PCA, if needed. Please contact the Residency Director, Deni Javas, at if you are considering applying to this Fellowship program, to discuss eligibility and information about our accessibility features at SFAI.


The world’s Indigenous communities play a critical role in our climate future. In particular, it has been shown that land and marine stewardship by indigenous communities typically result in significantly lower human impact and healthier ecosystems.

In 2023, as part of our Changing Climate International Residency Program, SFAI committed to offset the carbon cost of air and car travel by residents to SFAI, to support the work of Indigenous climate activists. While we recognize this is only one small step toward approaching carbon neutral as an institution, we commit to continuing this practice in 2024.