VERY NICE FELLOWS: Nominated anonymously, Mary Ping said she was “pretty stunned” to be among the United States Artists’ 2020 class of fellows. The Chicago-based funding organization has recognized 50 artists in 10 disciplines, who each receive a $50,000 fellowship. This is the largest group of fellows since USA relocated from Los Angeles to Chicago in 2011. The group has given more than $25 million to more that 550 artists in the U.S. since 2006.
As part of this year’s USA class, so to speak, Ping joins the ranks of a wide range of artists, writers, architects, dancers, choreographers, filmmakers, theater specialists and other performers. Honorees are at different stages of their careers. The Slow and Steady Wins the Race founder said, “It does place us in the broader design arena and it’s not just dedicated to fashion. I’m just really honored and humbled to be in a great group of people. The founding members are very illustrious or just incredible about whatever their mission is to foster, promote, support and grow cultural visions of artists.”
Ping’s designs will be featured in the “Bags: Inside Out” exhibition that will make its debut at the Victoria & Albert Museum in April. The Mulberry-sponsored show will also feature such other designer labels as Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi, Hermès, Anya Hindmarch and Off-White.
Regarding the U.S. Artists’ fellowship, Ping said everyone will convene in June for the awards ceremony. USA has an interesting history, beginning in 2003 when an Urban Institute-led study, which revealed that 96 percent of Americans valued art in their lives, but only 27 percent valued artists. That study and budget cuts at that time by the National Endowment for the Arts prompted the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson and Prudential Foundations to help create an organization dedicated to reflecting the importance of artists in American society and addressing their economic challenges.
“I’m totally floored because it’s the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Prudential and Rasmuson. The Ford Foundation, and similar organizations, their whole mission statement is for global improvement of our lives,” Ping said. “Whenever I approach design in the studio, we talk about, ‘Well, it’s really about quality of life.’ We’re really designing with the mission of improving your day-to-day life,” said Ping, emphasizing how important longevity is to design especially now with there being so many problems with fashion’s consumption rate.