Junauda Petrus
Affiliated Writer
Minneapolis, MN

I am a dancer and writer who fell in love with aerial arts 5 years ago. Combining the ritual of theatre with the art of aerial, I call the stories, sayings, ideas, fears, and triumphs that live in psychic memory and dwell in spirits and give them a home on the visceral landscape of the body and space. I emulate the Griot of West Africa, who is of the people and is interested in telling their story and protecting the essence in which it was told. I reflect primarily on the modern Black reality and its complexities, its light, shadow, heart, soul, and humanity,and through my art I make an offering for healing.

Erin Sharkey and I are the Co-Founders of Free Black Dirt. We are creators and writers. We seek to develop work that is opening, inspiring, challenging, and good-feeling. We seek to spark and engage in critical conversations.

As a performance artist, I create and maintain sacred space. It is a way of knowing the world, exploring truth and what resides on the insides of things. The theatrical experience is one that can transform and heal all participants involved, from the creators to the audience. I focus on creating spaces where people of all walks of life can tell their story and not be forgotten. In these spaces, there will be a yielding to Magic and Ritual. Ancestors will be in attendance with love and light. It will be a village, and all are welcome regardless of tribe and affiliations. No matter who you are, you are welcome. It will be complicated, revealing, joyful, intense, challenging, liberating and hopeful!


ST. PAUL, MN, January 27, 2021— The Jerome Foundation is pleased to announce the 2021 grant recipients in the second round of the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowships program. 60 Fellowships are being awarded (10 each in the disciplines of dance, film/new media, literature, music, theater/performance/spoken word, and visual arts) to early-career artists based in Minnesota and New York City, with 84 additional awards to finalists and alternates.

Two-year Fellowship awards total $3 million. Each award is $50,000 over two years ($25,000 per year) in direct support to artists to create new work, advance artistic goals and/or promote professional development.

Applicants applied either individually or jointly to share a single award as part of a sustained collaborative. Discipline-specific panels, composed of artists, curators, artistic leaders and arts administrators, reviewed a total of 820 applicants before identifying 144 as finalists for fuller discussion in advance of recommending a slate of Fellows to the Jerome Board of Directors for approval. In their deliberations, panels considered applicants’ samples of past works, additional past artistic accomplishments, the potential impact of a fellowship on their careers and their artistic field, their readiness to take maximum advantage of support and their alignment with Jerome’s values of innovation, diversity and humility. In reaching the final roster of Fellows, panels were charged with recommending to the Jerome Board a cohort that collectively captures the energy and diversity of their respective fields.

At their meeting on December 6, the Board unanimously and enthusiastically approved the recommended 27 Fellowships supporting 27 artists from Minnesota and 33 Fellowships supporting 35 artists (two 2-person collaboratives) for artists based in New York City.

“This year’s cohort represents an extraordinary social and aesthetic range, advancing their practices and engaging their community in exciting ways, even in these difficult and unprecedented times. It also exemplifies Jerome Foundation’s commitment to diversity and the diversity of artists across all disciplines with 85% of the Fellows identifying as Black, Native American, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian or Arab American or as Artists of Color. The work of all of these artists in binding our communities together and in stimulating our imagination has never been more important,” said Board Chair Linda Earle of New York City. Jerome Board members also include officers Kate Barr of Minneapolis (Vice-Chair), Daniel Alexander Jones of New York (Secretary), and Rick Scott of Minneapolis (Treasurer); Minnesota Directors Sarah Bellamy (St. Paul) and Sanjit Sethi (Minneapolis); New York City Directors Thomas Lax and Elizabeth Streb; and South Dakota Director Lori Pourier (Rapid City).

Fellows are also offered individualized professional development guidance through The MAP Fund of New York’s Scaffolding for Practicing Artists (SPA), designed to help artists individually and collectively consider, invent and co-devise solutions tailored to their specific practice and aesthetic ambitions.

Program Director, Eleanor Savage observed, “Fellows in the first round of this program told us how transformative this approach of direct support and individualized guidance can be.  By providing a sustained source of flexible funding over the course of two-years, in combination with this individualized professional development through The MAP Fund, Jerome Foundation hopes to offer artists the resources to be adaptive in their approaches to vibrant and sustainable careers.”

The Jerome Board also agreed to award one-time grants of $5,000 each to the 60 additional finalists and $7,500 each to the 24 additional finalist applicants designated by panels as “alternates” in the event that a recommended Fellow had been unable to accept the award. “Given the extraordinary promise of the applicant pool and the unprecedented challenges facing artists in this moment, the Foundation felt it was essential to expand the Fellows program with additional smaller grants to all the finalists that the panels had discussed at their meetings. All of us are deeply inspired by these artists and are honored to support them as they move forward.” said Jerome Foundation President Ben Cameron.

These additional smaller grants, totaling $480,000, bringing the total direct investment in individual artist to $3.48 million and the total program support, including the individualized professional development support, to more than $3.8 million.

Junauda Petrus has received funding through the Next Step Fund Award for professional development and branding focused on writing and filmmaking.

THERE ARE OTHER WORLDS by Junauda Petrus can be seen at Intermedia Arts March 19-21. More info HERE