Cisneros Institute Grants and Fellowships Awardees

November 22, 2019

The Cisneros Institute has announced the awardees of its inaugural Fellowships and Grants Program. 

With the goal of stimulating diverse methodologies to study art, the Fellowships and Grants Program supports new research on the art of Latin America produced by scholars, curators, and artists. 

The Artist Research Fellowship, supporting artists in their experimental approaches to research, has been awarded to choreographer and dancer Ana Pi. Pi is a pedagogue and researcher in urban dances. Her practice is situated among notions of transit, displacement, belonging, overlapping, and memory.

Pi will travel to Haiti to study current manifestations of dance in urban contexts, a project that is inspired by the travels of filmmaker Maya Deren to the country between 1947 and 1954. Pi’s project, titled “The Divine Cypher,” will connect transdisciplinary and black diasporic art, and will progress into a performance lecture to be presented in New York in December 2020. 

The Latin American Collection Fellowship has been awarded to Ana Franco, Associate Professor, Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia). She is the author of Neoclásicos: Edgar Negret y Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar entre París, Nueva York y Bogotá, 1944–1964 (Ediciones Uniandes, 2019) and co-edited New Geographies of Abstract Art in Postwar Latin America (Routledge, 2019). Her research focuses on postwar abstract art in Latin America from a transnational perspective.

This year Fellowship’s focus is on the concrete and abstract works donated to MoMA in 2016 by the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. The Fellowship is for scholars interested in studying overlooked aspects of the works and movements in the Cisneros Modern Gift, and/or discussing unexplored connections between the Gift and art from other regions. 

Franco’s project, titled “Two Women Artists in Latin American Abstract Art: Maria Freire and Lidy Prati,” proposes to study the works of Uruguayan artist Maria Freire (1917–2015) and Argentine artist Lidy Prati (1921–2008). Although both were active participants in the concretist movements in the Southern Cone during the 1940s and 1950s, their art has not received the same degree of attention as that of their male peers—especially outside of their home countries. Franco’s goal will be to develop a better understanding of the ways in which these women interpreted the legacies of Constructivism and Concrete art.

Thomas Lax, curator of media and performance art, is the recipient of the Institute’s Research Grant for MoMA and MoMA PS1 Curators. At MoMA, Lax has worked on the exhibition Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done, and the commission Maria Hassabi: Plastic, among other projects. Prior to joining MoMA he was assistant curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

This grant, which will be offered to MoMA and MoMA PS1 curators on a yearly basis, aims to foster new understandings of Latin American art that will inform future exhibitions, acquisitions, publications, and public programs in the Museum, as well as to contribute to the expansion of the Museum's perspectives.

Lax’s project is titled “Searching for Yemanjá,” and will expand two of his ongoing research interests: the figure of the ocean in the visual arts of the African diaspora, and the vexed notion of motherhood in the black radical intellectual tradition. The results of these research initiatives will be shared with the public in programs at MoMA and in a publication.

The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Research Institute for the Study of Art from Latin America is a platform dedicated to stimulating, supporting, and disseminating new understandings of Latin American modern and contemporary art in relationship to broader cultural issues within a global context.

For more information about the Cisneros Institute's programs visit