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An Interview with Feldman Fellowship Mentor: Almitra Stanley

The Walter Feldman Fellowship is a special opportunity awarded to emerging artists that provides them with professional development support and an opportunity to exhibit their work. The fellowship goes further than typical monetary awards by providing a hands-on guidance and teaching artists the business tools they need to facilitate the public’s access to their art. The Feldman Fellowship was established in 2015 and has been privileged in having the delightful, sharp-witted Almitra Stanley as a Fellowship Mentor to dispense invaluable guidance, advice, and support for all its recipients.

Feldman Fellowship Mentor is just one of Almitra’s many titles. She also is the Director of the Boston Sculptors Gallery and owner of Art Maven Consulting. The length of her resume makes it clear that she brings a wealth of curatorial, exhibition production, and arts administration expertise to the table. During our interview, it was quite evident that Almitra is happiest when she is helping artists with their professional development; her eyes would light up anytime she spoke of her mentees and her voice emanated pure enthusiasm.

When asked, “what have the Feldman Fellows taught you,” Almitra answered without hesitation, informing me of the numerous and diverse array of lessons she has learned. She greatly admires the artists’ “amazing dedication, not only to their fine art practice, but to changing the world.”  After years of working with the Feldman Fellows, she defines art differently than she used to; she now has a strong appreciation for the diversity of each artist’s respective practice and has learned that each artist’s experience has given them a different angle to approach their art.

As a juror for the fellowship, Almitra had insightful advice for artists and potential fellows: make sure to have extremely well-written material (including a CV), have others go over your artist statement to edit and review it, make sure your reproductions are “awesome” (for instance, if you have really detailed work, ensure you have quality, close-up photos), follow guidelines to a T, and have an awareness of what other art is out there, making it a habit to check art news and happenings.

It goes without saying that the art world has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Almitra spoke of how much disappointment was felt by artists to have their exhibitions canceled and postponed, but she also noted that many artists she knows were able to embrace this rare opportunity for an uninterrupted workflow and have been quite productive with the extra time. She maintains a positive outlook, hoping that galleries will adapt (as many already have) and that artists will continue to make art with their unwavering dedication. Almitra defines success as having an impact on an artist’s career and it is obvious that her positive attitude towards life is what makes her so successful at what she does.

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