The Jeffrey Ahn, Jr. Fellowship Announces 2020 Winner

The Jeffrey Ahn, Jr. Fellowship is pleased to announce that the 2020 Fellowship award has been granted to Emma Penaz Eisner, 17, a rising senior at Fusion Academy San Francisco.

For her Fellowship project, Emma proposes to create a three-channel video art installation entitled Vodnik Many Years After the Rainstorm that will be based on the story of the Vodník, a singular and alienated fish-man creature from Czech folklore.

Stills from the film I Am He Who Created Himself

Emma's video work will involve a series of interconnected, multimedia images that transform the text of the poems into a visual language.

Film still from Will I Scatter Away

Still from Emma's film work Will I Scatter Away

In her winning proposal, Emma wrote, “As a Czech-American, growing up the daughter of a Czech immigrant mother and enjoying a close relationship with my Czech immigrant grandparents, I find that the Vodník is an ingrained part of my cultural consciousness and artistic development. The Vodník’s plight fascinates me. While he has human form and intellect, he is a water creature, relegated to live with fish in a lake. He repulses other human beings and, thus, is unlovable; he is utterly lonely and alone. His desperation for human love and companionship drives him to acts of profound cruelty, yet he is a paradoxically sympathetic creature because his yearning for love reflects the universal human struggle to combat existential loneliness and isolation."

Emma's work will ultimately materialize as a three-screen installation of her video work.

Still from Emma's film work Pearls Sinking

Emma's proposal was chosen by a distinguished jury including gallerist Helena Anrather; photographer Antonio Bolfo; artist Ben Thorp Brown; artist Ian Cheng; Nathan Clements-Gillespie, Director, Frieze Art Fair; Kelly Kivland, Curator, Dia Art Foundation; gallerist Gracie Mansion; artist Rachel Rose; Xiaoyu Weng, Associate Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Lucas Zwirner,Head of Content, David Zwiriner Gallery.