2024 Writers Grant About



Jonathan Silver in his East Fourth Street Manhattan studio, with Wounded Amazon I, 1982. Plaster, 87 x 9 1⁄2 x 16 1⁄2 inches.
© The Jonathan and Barbara Silver Foundation.

The Jonathan and Barbara Silver Foundation Grant for Writing on Sculpture

In this grant program, the Jonathan and Barbara Silver Foundation’s goal is to encourage and support sculptors, whether emerging or established, and writers about sculpture.

Statement from the Director

Jonathan Silver was a sculptor and writer. He worked from the model and from his imagination. He was passionately interested in the history of sculpture, ranging from ancient Egypt and Hellenistic Greece through Michelangelo, Rodin, Giacometti, and Richard Serra. The questions he asked himself about sculpture were fundamental. Why, since prehistory, had human beings needed sculpture? What made one sculpture successful but not another one? What was it about some sculptures that enabled them to exist on their own, in any environment; and how had other sculptures defined the environments they created and become inseparable from them? How did the process, materials, and form of a work express its individual personality and history and the world from which the work emerged? How could sculpture become a vehicle for ideas?

His writing was rigorous and fearless, as well as provocative and speculative and sometimes funny. When he was working on his plaster heads and figures, he devoted some of his time to reading epic poetry and European novels and to studying Greek and Hebrew thought. His exploration of sculptural rhetoric and verbal rhetoric – as well as musical rhetoric – went hand in hand. His constant search to find language for the deepest levels of creative and visual experience is essential to his identity and legacy. In the months before Silver died in 1992, at fifty-four, his sculpture was in the process of changing again, and he fantasized about more changes to come. “If I make it through this illness,” he said, “I’ll make figures that dance.” It is no more possible to imagine the sculpture he would have made than it is to imagine what he would have written.

The Jonathan and Barbara Silver Foundation regards writing about sculpture, like sculpture itself, as a field with unlimited potential. The foundation is an organization in which making and finding language for sculpture are equally at home.

– Michael Brenson, Artistic Director, the Jonathan and Barbara Silver Foundation

About the Grant

  • The JBSF offers one $20,000 grant per year.
  • The JBSF grant program operates on a 2-year cycle with alternating grants that support writing in even years and sculpture in odd years. Applications are now open for writing on sculpture, and the recipient will be announced later in the year. The sculpture grant application will be available in 2025.
  • The writing grant is specifically for a writer who generates fresh writing and thinking on the history, aesthetics, purposes, imagination or situation of sculpture.
  • Supported categories of writing include essays and books.
    • Essays: magazine essays, catalogue essays, book essays
    • Books: research or manuscripts currently in process or nearing completion.
  • Types of writing that are supported include art criticism, art history, memoir, psychoanalytical study, philosophical meditation and literary study.
  • The grant recipient is expected to complete the project within one year of receiving the award.

The Jonathan and Barbara Silver Foundation does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, or national origin; on the grounds of disability; on the basis of age; or on the basis of sex.

Grant Guidelines

Deadline and Announcement Dates

  • The 2024 Writers Grant Application is now closed. The application deadline was May 31 at 11:59pm EST.
  • Expect notification of the award no earlier than November 15, 2024.

Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible to apply for the grant in writing on sculpture if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are an individual.
  • You are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or you hold an O-1 Visa.
  • At least one example of your writing has been published for the first time within the last five years (between January 1, 2019, and the present).
  • Types of eligible work:
    • Books, essays, memoirs.
  • Minimum requirements for submitting writing samples:
    • Up to three published writings from magazines, literary journals, or other publications (including online). The samples can originate from the same publication (although submitting samples from diverse publications is encouraged).
    • No sample should be longer than 2,500 words. If the original text exceeds 2,500 words, the sample can be an excerpt from it.
  • The samples should demonstrate your strength as a writer and their relevance to your project proposal.
  • The following types of work are NOT eligible: pre-publication material, such as proofs; work that has appeared in a publication for which you are the publisher or editor; collaborative writing; news reporting; letters to the editor; social media posts; essays on one’s own art or writing practice; student publications (including dissertations-theses).
  • You are not eligible if you are an employee, consultant, or board member of the Jonathan and Barbara Silver Foundation, or an immediate family member of such a person.

How to Apply

  • All writing samples and attached materials must be in English.
  • Questions or concerns regarding the Application can be directed to info@jonathanandbarbarasilverfoundation.org.
  • IMPORTANT: Your application will be automatically rejected without panel review if:
    • One or more required forms or attachments are missing
    • Your writing sample(s) exceed the word count requirement
    • Incorrect or insufficient publication information is provided
    • You have already received a grant from the JBSF during the last 5 years
    • You are not a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident of the U.S., or O-1 Visa-holder
    • The writing samples are not in English
    • The application is not responsive to the mission and values of the Foundation
    • Your project proposal includes referential content about your own art or writing practice

Application Review

  • The selection process is two-tiered; evaluators first determine eligibility, and then three panelists chosen by the JBSF will review the proposals in closed sessions.
  • Evaluation is based on the vitality of the writing, the potential of the project proposal to contribute to the field of sculpture, appropriateness of the project to the Foundation’s mission, and confidence in the writer’s ability to complete the project.

General Terms and Conditions

Application Submission

  • Budget: The applicant will attach a budget, in paragraph form (a max. of 250 words) that itemizes the expenses necessary to complete the proposed project. Briefly describe the categories of expenses and the amounts for each category the grant will cover.
  • Eligible expenses:
    • Writer’s fee (amount incurred by creating time to write)
    • Research
    • Travel (airfare, car rental, ground transportation, lodging, meals, per diem)
    • Living expenses (including childcare)
    • Fees for image permission
    • Reproduction and copying costs
    • Costs relating to editing, transcription, or translation
    • Expenses relating to the following are NOT eligible and your application will be rejected if your budget proposes to use the grant funds for any of these: loans or other debts: reimbursement of payments already incurred; purchase of land or building; tuition expenses; fees paid to third parties for promotion, marketing, or sale of work; commissioning work by others; health-related expenses (dentistry, hospitalization, etc.).
  • The applicant will list any contributions that have already been raised, as well as any other pending sources of income for the project (for example, other grant applications).

Award Notification

  • Announcement of the grant recipient will be made in November 2024, but no earlier than November 15.
  • The recipient will be notified of the grant award via an email with the subject line: Jonathan and Barbara Silver Foundation: Award Notice XXXX-XX to Your Name
  • Award documents will be provided in a separate email, including the award letter and reporting requirements (see below).
  • *Important: The Jonathan and Barbara Silver Foundation grant program is pending approval from the Internal Revenue Service. The award funds will be disbursed after the Foundation is approved.

Award Acceptance: Recipient responsibilities

  • Reporting Requirements
    • The project is expected to be completed within 1 year of receiving the award.
    • The Foundation expects a progress report on the project 6 months after receiving the award, as well as a final report after the full year. If the work has not been completed, the final report can summarize your progress.
    • Progress Report: the one-page report should include (1) A description of all activities supported by the grant and (2) grant-supported activities planned for the remainder of the grant period (i.e. research or travel).
    • Final Project Report: The grant recipient’s completed work will be considered their final report. Plans for publication are recommended but not required.
    • Conversation with the Director: A conversation about the project with the Artistic Director of the Foundation will take place at the Foundation Space (67 West Street, Brooklyn, NY) as part of their Final Report. The event will be live streamed, recorded, and posted to the JBSF website. This will be an opportunity for the writer to receive feedback on their work.
    • An outline of expenditures
    • A one-page report on the Awardee’s experience with the grant
  • Grant recipients assume legal, financial, and administrative responsibility for complying with the terms included in the grant award documents.

  • Failure to comply with these requirements may result in suspension or termination of the award and the Foundation’s recovery of funds.

  • Copyright and Cataloging Information
    • You may copyright any material that is subject to copyright and was developed under the JBSF award during the grant period.
    • We reserve the indefinite right to reproduce, publish, or make available for research work produced under the JBSF grant period.