Sustainable Arts Foundation
supporting artists and writers with families


Spring 2015 Awards

Lauren Haldeman

Lauren Haldeman's wonderful, sometimes surreal poems grabbed us from the first line and surprised us to the last. They are spare and inventive, funny and knowing, full of heart and wit; they capture especially well the disorienting early days of parenting: "I cried because your head came out of my body. Your whole body came out of my body & it was nuts. It was absolutely insane. Then your hands kept hitting your face. Over & over, you didn’t even know what your face was, but it still kept getting hit."

Lauren's first collection, Calenday, was published by Rescue Press; she teaches at the University of Iowa, where she lives with her family.


The artists Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen, working as the collaborative, Hillerbrand+Magsamen, have one of the more unique art practices we've ever encountered. With humor and insight, they document and embellish family life from the mundane to the absurd, at times giving over their home and other worldly posessions in the process. By including their children so seamlessly into their work, they particularly embody the mission of our foundation.

They live and work in Houston, Texas with their two children.

Sabrina Orah Mark

Sabrina Orah Mark is a poet currently working on a collection of wild short stories in which a preschool teacher begins to snow, a woman is covered with daughters, a nervous family lives on dried apricots and frozen milk, and in an echo of a familiar children's book, a woman searches for influences:

“If Francine Prose is not my mother, and Hillary Clinton is not my mother, and Jorie Graham is not my mother, and Diana Ross is not my mother, maybe John Berryman is my mother. I go to John Berryman’s house and knock on his door. He is dead, but he opens anyway. ... ‘Are you my mother?’ I ask. ‘I am not your mother,’ says John Berryman. He opens the door wider. ‘But I could become your mother.’”

The worlds of this fiction are so strange, and yet just familiar enough; we can't wait to spend more time in them. Sabrina lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband and two sons.

Sara Rockinger

Sara Rockinger is a fiber artist whose work defies traditional categorization. Her art is varied in style and scale, but most memorable are a series of figures freehand stitched with a sewing machine on painted and dyed fabrics. The interplay of line, color, and transparency are compelling visually, but her work is also political without being didactic. It's simultaneously strong and delicate.

Sara was previously a Sustainable Arts Foundation finalist. She lives with her husband and son in Lafayette, Colorado.

Alexander Weinstein

Alexander Weinstein writes dystopian fiction with such depth of feeling it makes us weep. In "Heartland," Hawaii is on fire; the midwest is covered in clay; and the Pacific is tar black with a three-year-old oil spill. In "Children of the New World," a family enjoys virtual enhancements--including children--that are wiped out by a computer virus. Despite the unfamiliar worlds these characters inhabit, they are familiar and affecting; these haunting stories offer just enough hope to keep us eagerly reading more.

Alexander lives and teaches creative writing in Michigan, where he is working on his second collection of stories, The Lost Traveler’s Tour Guide.

Spring 2015 Promise Awards

Jennifer Alise Drew

"I am a vision of my mother," begins Jennifer Alise Drew's essay, "Probabilities," "the way I like to think of her when she was young: barefoot on the steps, no bra, those velour mini-shorts of the time, her hair reined in by a red bandana, blowing bubbles from a plastic wand." This essay interweaves threads from her own childhood as the twin daughter of a hippie mom, now facing difficult decisions midway through her own pregnancy. Others in her collection reflect on the Heimlich maneuver, the South, Hooters, preschool, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. We are so eager to read it!

Jennifer lives in Burbank, California, with her family.

Elsie Kagan

Elsie Kagan is a painter whose work lives at the border of figure and abstraction. Our jurors loved her series of vibrant still lifes that radiated color and energy. We particularly loved that this previous Sustainable Arts Foundation finalist has continued to apply with new work, demonstrating a commitment to her craft, and a wealth of ideas that we couldn't ignore.

Elsie lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and two boys, where she maintains a network of parent artists in her neighborhood.

Emily Raboteau

"If you could unzip the fire escape to open an exterior wall of 804 W. 180th Street like a jacket of bricks, here is what you’d see:" And so begins Emily Raboteau's new project, a compelling and multi-layered novel titled Endurance, which traces the relationships among the various residents of a gentrifying co-op building in Washington Heights. Emily is the author of another novel, The Professor’s Daughter, and a work of creative nonfiction, Searching for Zion.

She lives in New York City with her husband, writer Victor LaValle, and their two children. She teaches creative writing at City College in Harlem.

Kendra Langford Shaw

"'Don’t be surprised if some of the students are picked off by the wolf,'" begins Kendra Langford Shaw's story, "Miss Petunia and the Wolf," "'It's kind of a problem out here.'" Miss Petunia is unfased, adjusting her math problems to the situation ("If we start with twenty-five students and three are eaten by the wolf, how many will we have?") and reminding her students to keep clear of the schoolyard fence ("'It’s for your own good,' she says. 'You’re just so bite-sized.'")

We also loved reading an excerpt from her novel-in-progress, The Pillager’s Guide to Arctic Pianos, which is a multi-generational family saga set in an alternate version of the Alaskan Arctic. We can't wait to read it.

Kendra lives in Montana with her family.

Carmen Gimenez Smith

Carmen Gimenez Smith has published four collections of poetry, and is currently working on one about family and memory called The Brief Remember. We were particularly moved by the poems about her mother's Alzheimer's:

"That you don’t know her is your
misfortune. Know what was of her,
which was a hot planet’s core,
a late summer’s best light.
Perhaps she is still those images,
but the center of her is now only
in my essay, in my poem."

Carmen lives with her family in Las Cruces, New Mexico and teaches at New Mexico State University.

Diana Whitney

Diana Whitney's poems offer Polaroid- vivid images of family life, school days, and summer fishing trips, but they are always real, never romanticized.

"Summer beckons us with sea glass,
hunting someone’s broken trash transformed to gems

for eagle eyes, finders/keepers at low tide."

Diana lives in Vermont with her family.

Andrew Woodward

Andrew Woodward is a skilled painter who specializes in architectural paintings. These works hang together beautifully as a cohesive group, but we're so impressed by the variety of compositions, which elevate these works considerably. They are precise at scale, and painterly in close view: a visual treat. Andrew lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife and two children.

Spring 2015 Finalists
These finalists are artists and writers whose work impressed us tremendously; we are pleased to acknowledge them publicly.

Siobhan Adcock, Fiction
Valerie Cumming, Fiction
Sara Eichner, Painting
Emily Fleisher, Sculpture
Elizabeth Langemak, Poetry
Artemio Rodriguez, Printmaking
Amy Schissel, Mixed Media
Emily Schultz, Fiction
Stephanie Soileau, Fiction
Tenesh Webber, Photography

Learn more about our previous awardees.