Husker alumna Meier honored as Jerome Hill Artist Fellow

Left:  Catherine Meier. Right: Catherine Meier, “August 29, 2014, 9:02 p.m., Standing Witness, site: Sage Creek.”
Left: Catherine Meier. Right: Catherine Meier, “August 29, 2014, 9:02 p.m., Standing Witness, site: Sage Creek.”

School of Art, Art History & Design alumna Catherine Meier (B.F.A. 2005) has been honored as a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow. The Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship awards 60 artist fellowships to early career artists in Minnesota and New York City annually.

Meier is one of 10 who received the fellowships in visual arts. Fellows receive $50,000 over two consecutive years to support self-determined activities for creation of new work, artistic development and/or professional artistic career development.

“I was stunned,” Meier said about learning she was being honored with the fellowship. “And overjoyed to tears.”

In October, she learned that she was in the finalist round and would be notified by mid-December.

“I was really surprised when I got a phone call on a Monday morning, a week before the stated date,” Meier said. “It was Lann Briel from Jerome telling me I had been selected, congratulations, and that they were happy to support my work. I could barely talk.”

Meier will be writing a proposal for what she intends to do with the fellowship funds this spring. The fellowship begins in May.

Meier said it’s a “game changer” for her career as an artist.

“It is made even more so by the fact that it is coupled with my recent McKnight fellowship, so between the two I have three continuous years of funding,” Meier said. “But it is not just about the financial benefit—that is a mechanism that affords for a known time and space in which to focus on developing my work further as well as the institutional support that can provide pathways and connections. Jerome foundation is known for its supportive approach to artists. Its core values are diversity, innovation and risk, and humility. I am being given a space and time that nurtures my growth as an artist through this lens, which are core values that I share as well.”

Hixson-Lied Professor of Art Dana Fritz said Meier stood out immediately in her first-year drawing course.

“As a non-traditional, returning student, she was driven to make the most of her experience at UNL,” Fritz said. “Through the UCARE program, she served as my trusted studio assistant and later produced a powerful and award-winning animated film of her drawings. She remains a deeply committed and thoughtful artist who has received a number of prestigious awards including a national Jacob K. Javits Fellowship for Graduate study, two McKnight Visual Artist Fellowships, and now the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship. These major awards are a testament to the power of her work that is still grounded in her experiences living in and moving through the vast, open grasslands of Nebraska.”

Originally from Orchard, Nebraska, Meier graduated from Nebraska in 2005. After graduating from Nebraska, she completed her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Michigan and has made her life as an artist.

“I had always thought that I wanted to teach, but in my last year of graduate school I realized that I wasn’t ready for that, and I wanted to spend time working as an independent artist,” Meier said. “This was a tough road to choose, but we moved to Minnesota, where my husband is from, and the support for arts here is good. So I have built my studio practice, gave birth to my two children, Dylan and Cedar Blue, worked as a contract designer (which I was excellently prepared to do from my experience at the New Media Center at UNL). I have worked in a few other capacities in the arts as well, such as curation, part-time instructor, etc., but some of that is defined by where I live, which is the north shore of Lake Superior.”

Her current work connects drawing and the land.

“I am continuing my landscape work, creating drawings for animation, experimenting with digital drawings and animation (until recently my animation work has been entirely hand-drawn graphite on paper), and dreaming up trips where I can be in the land and draw,” Meier said. “Last May I was awarded a McKnight fellowship, and I have also been spending the last year with much of the professional development opportunities that fellowship affords. I get to meet with curators/critics from around the country, as well as the cohort of other fellows. It is quite a gift.”

She is thankful for all the support she has received.

“I spend a lot of time thinking about how fortunate I am for the many supportive people I have in my life and how I have learned and continue to learn from them,” Meier said. “I am happy that I still have a relationship with Dana Fritz, and I enjoy seeing what other professors and students that I learned from at UNL are doing. I had amazing women role models for scholarship and art at Michigan, too, that I still talk to, and that continue to encourage me in how to proceed in this life as an artist and mother. I have had many great mentors and role models. My point is that we don’t learn in a vacuum. We have a profound effect on each other, and I am grateful for this.”