2024 Literary & Performing Arts Fellows

The Artist Fellowship Grant from the Nevada Arts Council recognizes artists living in Nevada who demonstrate excellence in their work. Since 1989, the Nevada Arts Council has recognized 232 fellows in Visual, Performing, and Literary Arts who demonstrate excellence in their field. The Fellowship Program was designed to encourage the pursuit of artistic excellence by providing financial support to outstanding artists. Nevada Arts Council Fellowship grants can be awarded at any stage of the artists’ career development. By recognizing and rewarding artistic accomplishments instead of educational experience, these fellows promote public awareness and appreciation of how Nevada artists contribute to the economic, civic, cultural, educational and health benefits in Nevada and its communities.  In odd fiscal years the grant is open to visual artists and in even fiscal years it is open to performing and literary artists.

The Nevada Arts Council is proud to recognize 12 artists who demonstrate excellence for the 2024 Performing and Literary Arts Fellowship. These 12 fellows were chosen from 89 applicants that were all reviewed and scored by our Review Panels. While there are two designations of our 2024 fellowship: Performing and Literary Arts, applicants further designated their categories as Dance, Choreography, Theater Performance and Theater Direction, Music Performance and Composition, Literary Poetry, and Creative Prose (Fiction/Non-Fiction) and Dramatic Writing. A Panel Review was conducted on each discipline with three trusted experts from their disciplines.

Learn more and apply for the 2025 Artist Fellowship Award for Literary and Performing Artists here.

LITERARY Artist Fellows


Justin Evans lives in West Wendover, Nevada, with his wife and sons, where he teaches English at the local high school. He served in the U.S. Army from 1988-1992 and received degrees from Southern Utah University and the University of Nevada, Reno. He is the author of ten books of poetry, the most recent being Cross Country (WordTech, 2019) and All the Brilliant Ideas I’ve Ever Had (Aldrich Press, 2020). An eleventh book, Cenotaph, is due in March of 2024 from Kelsay Books. https://mappingliteraryutah.org/utah-writers/justin-evans


Chris Lanier is an artist, educator and writer with a background in both traditional and digital media, and a vital interest in hybrid forms, having worked in multimedia performance, digital animation, web production, and comics. In short, he likes to mix things up, traversing methods and disciplines. His work has screened at Sundance and won awards at several international festivals, including the Grand Prize for Internet Animation at the Ottawa International Animation Festival – he has also screened/exhibited work in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and in Puebla, Mexico, Linconshire, England, and Pancevo, Serbia. He is an essayist and critic whose art criticism has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, including The Believer, HiLobrow, Furtherfield, Double Scoop, Rhizome, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Comics Journal. A constant in his work has been a fascination with visual communication – the way visual information constitutes a language of its own, one that can both clarify and distort reality. He is currently a Teaching Professor of Digital Art at the University of Nevada, Reno. chrislanierart.wordpress.com

Kathy Nelson

Kathy Nelson grew up near the southern Appalachian Mountains and has lived in Austin, Salt Lake City, central New Jersey, western North Carolina, and now northern Nevada. She has worked as an engineer, a teacher, and a chaplain. While poetry had been a thread through all her previous life, Kathy began to study and to write poetry seriously during her experience as a hospice chaplain and has felt both fed and ignited by the poetry of Larry Levis, Natalie Diaz, Elizabeth Bishop and Ellen Bryant Voigt. 

Kathy Nelson grew up near the southern Appalachian Mountains and has lived in Austin, Salt Lake City, central New Jersey, western North Carolina, and now northern Nevada. She has worked as an engineer, a teacher, and a chaplain. While poetry had been a thread through all her previous life, Kathy began to study and to write poetry seriously during her experience as a hospice chaplain and has felt both fed and ignited by the poetry of Larry Levis, Natalie Diaz, Elizabeth Bishop and Ellen Bryant Voigt. https://kathynelsonpoet.com


Shaun T. Griffin has dedicated his life to creating a caring community. He and his wife, Deborah, founded the Community Chest in 1991, a nonprofit organization that directs more than thirty programs for northern Nevada, including hunger relief, service learning, counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, early childhood education, and art and social justice projects. Griffin taught a poetry workshop at Northern Nevada Correctional Center for thirty years and published a journal of the men’s work, Razor Wire. He is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including Because the Light Will Not Forgive Me: Essays from a Poet and Anthem for a Burnished Land. In 2014, Griffin was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. https://nvartscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/Shaun-Griffin-Virginia-City.pdf

Mark Maynard

Mark Maynard earned his B.A. in English from the University of San Diego, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and a Masters of Journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno.  

Mark Maynard’s work has appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Baobab Press’s This Side of the Divide, Tahoe Blues (Bona Fide Books), and The Films of Clint Eastwood (University of New Mexico Press). His 2012 collection of short stories Grind (Torrey House Press) was selected as the 2016-17 Nevada Reads Book by the Nevada State Library. In 2015, Mark was awarded the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award.  

During the summer of 2022, Mark was artist-in-residence at Great Basin National Park through the Great Basin National Park Foundation and the University of Nevada School of Fine Arts, and was the Black Rock Desert artist-in-residence hosted by the Friends of Black Rock High Rock.  

In 2023, the short documentary film “Piconland: The Quest for the Perfect Picon Punch” that Mark wrote and directed was awarded Best Nevada Film at the Dam Short Film Festival in Boulder City, NV. The film has played festivals nationally and internationally. Mark has taught writing at TMCC, the University of Nevada, Reno, and Sierra Nevada University. In addition to teaching, he has worked as a journalist, and a marketing writer for a major video game publisher. markmaynard.info


Amanda Skenandore is an award-winning author of historical fiction and a registered nurse. Her books have been translated into multiple languages and garnered accolades from the American Library Association, Reader’s Digest, Silicon Valley Reads, and Apple Books. Her writing explores lesser-known corners of history and often includes themes of medicine, justice, and belonging. Amanda lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their pet turtle, Lenore. https://www.amandaskenandore.com

Performing Artist Fellows

Jennifer Bellor

Jennifer Bellor has been described by Textura as “that rare composer whose music manages to be instantly listenable and emotionally resonant without any compromise to its sophistication.” Jennifer Bellor is a versatile composer whose music draws on a variety of influences, from progressive rock bands to jazz artists, singer-songwriters, and Bellor’s own studies of the violin, piano, French horn, and voice. Images, texts, and emotional experiences inspire her works, which are often characterized as melodic with jazz- and pop-influenced harmonies. Bellor’s music has been presented widely throughout the U.S. and abroad and has issued three albums: Stay (2016), Reflections at Dusk (Innova Recordings, 2019), and Oneira (Aerocade Music, 2022). Her music video, Oneira, in collaboration with animator Christina A. Banna was featured on I Care if You Listen, and in screenings at multiple festivals. Her debut album Stay (2016), a melting pot of different music styles largely based on poetry, was featured on NewMusicBox’s 2016 Staff Picks, which praised the record for its ability to “maintain a highly individual identity without needing to take refuge in pre-post-genre musical silos.” 

Bellor is currently working on a new experimental art song album that will feature two of her song cycles for voice, electric guitar (Tasos Peltekis) and piano (Bellor) that set poetry by Pablo Neruda and Christina Rossetti: Cuatro Canciones de Las Ultimas Horas featuring bass singer Norman Espinoza and A Smile and a Sigh featuring soprano Olivia Yokers. 

Bellor holds degrees from Eastman School of Music (PhD), Syracuse University (MM), and Cornell University (BA). She is Assistant Professor of Music Composition at UNLV. https://linktr.ee/jenbellormusic


Cari Cunningham is an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Nevada, Reno and the founder of bellē contemporary dance co., an all-female project-based company in Northern Nevada. The name bellē is derived from the intersection of the French word for beautiful and the English term for our midsection and Cunningham’s choreography seeks to expose the beauty and power of the soft underbelly (the core, the womb, the center of the body) through movement, sound, costume, and video. She has created numerous choreographic works, including two evening-length pieces – TIES (2009) and on being fuller (2019).  She is currently working on a third full-length dance work centered around names and naming as a reflection of individual identities that features a cast of 12 mothers/dancers. 

Cunningham’s choreography has been performed in Oregon, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Mexico, New York City (La Mama Experimental Theater, DUMBO Dance Festival, Green Space Take Root, and the CoolNY Dance Festival), and at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.  Most recently she performed at the Future Bodies Symposium at Virginia Tech in a collaborative work with UNR faculty members Tyler Calkin-Low (Art) and Jean-Paul Perotte (Music).  Cunningham’s written work has been published in Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit, and Dance Teacher. Caricunningham.com


Yunior Lopez is a JUNO award-winning musician who enjoys a unique career as a violist, conductor, and entrepreneur. He is the founding violist of Canada’s Annex Quartet with notable achievements including a milestone American debut at Carnegie Hall in 2010 and conceiving the groundbreaking “Roaring Twenties Project”. Lopez has engaged in artistic endeavors with an eclectic array of international artists, and his recorded contributions appear on an assortment of labels, including ECM, Universal, Justin Time, Modica, and Alma Records. 
Lopez is motivated by the power of music and its endless possibilities. At the age of 20, he was appointed Conductor of the Phil & Eli Taylor Academy Orchestra at The Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Canada. He later founded the Las Vegas Young Artists Orchestra, now the Dr. Shirley Linzy Young Artists Orchestra, where he currently serves as Executive & Music Director. Since 2015, the organization has presented over 125 concerts in Southern Nevada, and is recognized as one of the few tuition-free and professional training youth orchestras in the United States exhibiting its model of high quality music education, collaborative programming, and community engagement.  
Yunior Lopez attained a Performance and Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music. He studied viola with Steven Dann, Susan Barton, and David Holland. Other influences include conductors Uri Mayer and Mario Bernardi, and members of the Kronos, Tokyo, Orford, and St. Lawrence String Quartets. Mr. Lopez resides in Las Vegas, NV with his wife, two kids, and two Boston terriers. www.yuniorlopez.com


Jared Crawford, aka RED a New York-born artist raised amid the lights of Las Vegas, seamlessly blends his roles as a Rapper, Entertainer, and Drummer. Rooted in theatrical training at Ko Knudson and Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, Jared’s accelerated learning programs fueled his passion and honed his skills. Recognized for his excellence, he became a standout performer in local theatre, showcasing his thespian prowess in a variety of productions. Beyond the stage, Jared ventured into the vibrant Las Vegas Strip, captivating diverse audiences as a street performer. With a unique fusion of rap and drumming, he not only displayed raw talent but also connected authentically with onlookers. Now a full-time musician, Jared embarks on thrilling tours, delivering electrifying shows with his band. Yet, his ambitions extend to Film and Theatre, driven by a determination to translate his musical and performance aptitude into cinematic and theatrical realms. Jared Crawford’s story is a testament to artistic evolution and the courage to dream beyond boundaries. From Las Vegas to touring globally, he prepares for a new chapter, fusing musicality, passion, and storytelling on grand stages and screens. As Jared evolves, one certainty remains: his journey will leave an indelible mark on the entertainment world. https://linktr.ee/k1ngjared


Troy Heard is a director, writer, and producer in Las Vegas. He is the Founding Artistic Director of the Majestic Repertory Theatre and has directed many productions that have been awarded Best New Show, Best Director of a Musical, Best Director of a Play and named best director by Desert Companion Magazine in 2012, 2014, and 2018 and by the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2012. https://www.troyheard.com


Carol Scott, an Arts Management graduate from SUNY, boasts an extensive career spanning over three decades in various spheres of the arts and arts education. Her multifaceted involvement includes acting, directing, producing, designing, and managing more than 300 productions. Notably, for the past 15 years, she has served as the Executive Director of the nationally acclaimed Wild Horse Children’s Theater in Carson City, NV. Moreover, Carol’s dedication to nurturing young talents led her to establish and helm two other non-profit children’s theater companies: BAC Stage Kids in Carson City, NV, and Little Tomato Children’s Theater in Ontario, Canada. 

Throughout her career, Carol has been a catalyst for innovative artistic and educational programs.  As a seasoned children’s theater director, she has created captivating and memorable performances that resonate with audiences of all ages and showcases her deep commitment to cultivating a supportive environment where young performers can thrive, learn, and discover their unique artistic voices.  Beyond her directorial role, Carol is a passionate advocate for arts education. She has actively contributed to developing innovative programs that integrate performing arts into education, believing in the transformative power of theater as a tool for learning and personal growth. www.wildhorsetheater.com

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