Lely Constantinople and Anna Tsouhlarakis Receive 2018 Artist Fellowship Grant

Anna Avanesyan '19 and Mizia Wessel '19

Two Sidwell Friends art teachers, Lely Constantinople and Anna Tsouhlarakis, have each received a 2018 Artist Fellowship Grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for impressive work in their fields.

 Constantinople, Sidwell’s photography teacher, first discovered her love for photography at age nine in an after school program. 

“I got into photography because my mom worked and had to put me somewhere after school,” she said. 

In Constantinople’s later years as a student, she attended the National Cathedral School down the street from Sidwell Friends, and often found herself overwhelmed by the high stress environment of the school.

“Photography, specifically the dark room, was always a place of solitude and happiness for me,” she said, noting that taking photos often provided a respite from other aspects of her daily life.

This is not the first time Constantinople has received this grant; she was previously awarded it in 2011. For Constantinople, the Artist Fellowship Grant program is important because it “supports local artists...that [the DC Commision on the Arts and Humanities] wants to invest in long term...allow[ing] so many artists to survive.” She believes the grant is especially valuable in helping these artists accomplish their artistic endeavors in an increasingly financially taxing world.

Speaking about her own personal work, Constantinople revealed that she never “has a goal” for herself or for her audience when she publicizes her art. Her only hope is that “people feel something” when viewing her work. With the financial assistance of the 2018 Artist Fellowship Grant, Constantinople looks forward to continuing to impact the lives of many in unforeseeable ways. 

Along with Lely Constantinople, Sidwell Friends School digital and studio art teacher Anna Tsouhlarakis also recently received the 2018 Artist Fellowship Grant. 

Being the child of a jeweler, Tsouhlarakis has valued art since she was young.  She said that as a child, “when [she] was exposed to art, it was always three dimensional.” As a result of this, from an early age Tsouhlarakis saw herself  “as more of a sculptor and a builder.” 

Upon her introduction to a wider variety of art forms in college and graduate school, Tsouhlarakis began to notice the different ways that experiences were being portrayed in the increasingly technological art world. Observing the utilization of these new forms of art, Tsouhlarakis began to question perception of Native American art in the United States, and take note of the things she was not seeing.

As a result, Tsouhlarakis took it upon herself to explore the subject of Native American identity in new ways, creating open ended pieces that she hopes “anyone can make a connection to.” In an interview with Jackson Hole Community Radio, Tsouhlarakis said that, “as a people we have to start to think a little more progressively and worldly,” evolving with the times, and not being afraid to push the boundaries and enter into uncharted territory.

With the Artist Fellowship Grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Tsouhlarakis will be able to pursue this further, reaching new audiences and challenging their societal perceptions.


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