Skip to main content

“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

Thematic Residency FAQs
Thematic Residency Eligibility


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.

Sovereignty Selection Panel

We are honored to have the participation of the following esteemed artists, thinkers, academics, and practitioners as jurors for the 2024 Sovereignty International Thematic Residency.

Sovereignty Juror

Elizabeth Burden

Elizabeth Burden is a multidisciplinary artist blending studio work with social practice. She uses drawing, painting, sculpture, video, coding, mapping, and other media and processes.


Her recent work focuses on three interrelated themes: (1) geographies, space, and place; (2) contemporary state and societal violences; (3) legacies and vestiges of history and historical trauma. Whether created through studio practice or through community-engaged process, the common thread that runs through all her work is to look at old narratives anew, to confront, reflect upon, shape, and transform.
She has been an artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Arts Institute (Revolution Residency, 2022; Truth and Reconciliation Residency, 2019), and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (Trainings for the Not Yet, 2019), and was a Mellon Projecting All Voices Fellow at Arizona State University (2020).
Ms. Burden holds bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Studio Art, and a master’s degree in Geographic Information Science.

Sovereignty Juror

Jeremy Dennis

Jeremy Dennis (b. 1990) is a contemporary fine art photographer and a tribal member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, NY. 


In his work, he explores indigenous identity, culture, and assimilation. Dennis holds an MFA from Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, and a BA in Studio Art from Stony Brook University, NY. He currently lives and works in Southampton, New York, on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.

Sovereignty Juror

Nicole Feliz-Okumu

Nicole Feliz-Okumu is the Co-Founder of Grey Area Collective, a social impact design and research studio working at the intersection of activism, art, and technology.


As a creative producer, collaboration designer, and group facilitator, Nicole works with human rights champions to create experiences, products, and services that spark conversation and inspire action.

Sovereignty Juror

Ahree Lee

Ahree Lee is a multi-disciplinary artist working in video, new media, and textiles. Lee received her B.A. from Yale University in English literature and a M.F.A. in graphic design from Yale School of Art.


Her commissions include the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the 01SJ Biennial, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, and the Sundance Channel. Her honors include an artist residency at Santa Fe Art Institute and a Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Award nomination, and her work has been written about in Hyperallergic, Metropolis, and Fast Company.

Sovereignty Juror

Ann Lewis

Ann Lewis (b 1981 Duluth, MN) is a multidisciplinary activist artist using painting, installation, and participatory performance to explore themes related to American identity, power structures, and justice.


Her work interrogates power imbalances such as mass incarceration, police brutality, and the desecration of women’s and trans rights. Ann’s data-driven art uses concept-specific materials to reflect facts in these apocryphal times. After receiving her BFA from the University of Wisconsin she has shown at the Obama White House, and her mural See Her received an Americans for the Arts 2018 Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review Award. Ann’s art has been acquired by the New York Historical Society Museum and the US Library of Congress. Her work has been reviewed in Hyperallergic, Artnet, Interview Magazine, The LA Times, and The Guardian. She has exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the US and abroad including shows at Petzel Gallery in New York, Seyhoun Gallery in Tehran, Iran, and Truth to Power during the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. She lives and works in Detroit, MI.

Sovereignty Juror

Danyelle Means

Danyelle Means is the Executive Director of the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA), a grassroots organization dedicated to celebrating creativity across the arts, humanities, and sciences and to advancing the cultural landscape of Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Means is the first person of Indigenous heritage to lead the organization in its 40+ year history. Prior to joining CAA, Means served as the Director of Advancement at the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Executive Director of the Institute of American Indian Arts Foundation. Means also has a wide range of museum experience, including at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). There, she participated in the development of several of the inaugural exhibitions for the Heye Center in New York and oversaw the development of To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions. As an independent museum consultant, she co-curated the 2019-2020 CUNY-QCC exhibition: Survivance and Sovereignty on Turtle Island at the Kupferberg Holocaust Center. She is on the board of ArtTable and the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Sovereignty Juror

C.Maxx Stevens

C.Maxx Stevens is a Seminole/Mvskoke Nation from the Oklahoma Region Installation artist. She is a Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado after serving as the Foundation Arts Director in the Art and Art History Department from 2006 to 2019.


C.Maxx served as the Academic Dean of the Center for Arts and Cultural Studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Stevens’s work proudly draws upon her rich Seminole cultural heritage and comes from a family that encouraged her to transform her memories, stories, and life experiences in a creative way. Her work in installation draws upon using materials that are time based, ephemeral like life it has its own timeline.

Stevens received her Masters of Fine Arts in 1987 from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1979 from Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas and in 1972 an Associate of Arts Degree from Haskell Indian Junior College, Lawrence, Kansas.
Stevens’ has been a recipient of many awards and honors such as Eiteljorge Fellowship Award from the Eiteljorge Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana, 2000 Artist Grant from the Andrea Frank Foundation in New York, New York, 1998 Sculptor Award from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Inc. in New York, New York and 2013 Art Matters grant from the Art Matters Foundation in New York, New York.

She has exhibited both in the United States and abroad such as Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec, Canada; Smithsonian American Indian Museum Heye Center in New York City, New York; C. N. Gorman Museum, University of California at Davis, Davis, California; Eiteljorge Museum of Indian Art, Indianapolis, Indiana; Museum of Arts and Crafts, New York, New York; Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Gordon Snelgrove Gallery, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; The Montana Museum of Art and Culture, Missoula, Montana; Boise Art Museum, Boise, Montana; and White Mountain Academy Gallery, Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada to name a few.

C.Maxx Stevens constantly works to remain true to her sense of self using memories and issues from her personal experience. Her starting point in her creative process is to creates stories particularly from her dreams and life within the Native American culture.