Announcing the 2023 Next Level Awards

published: Nov. 14, 2023

3Arts announces inaugural recipients of $50,000 grants for Teaching Artists, largest award for teaching artists in the world!

Chicago teaching artists Miguel "Kane One" Aguilar and Regin Igloriaalong with visual artists Dianna Frid, Edra Soto, and Dorian Sylvainannounced as 2023 ‘Next Level’ awardees at November 13 celebration

CHICAGO, IL (November 14, 2023)– 3Arts, the Chicago-based nonprofit grantmaking organization, announced the recipients of its 3Arts Next Level Awards—$50,000 unrestricted cash awards given to past 3Arts awardees—during the festive 3Arts Awards Celebration held last night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. While 3Arts has in the past awarded three Next Level grants, the roster this year was expanded to include two additional awards for teaching artists; at $50,000, this is the largest no-strings-attached cash award for teaching artists in the world. 2023 Next Level recipients are teaching artists Miguel “Kane One” Aguilar and Regin Igloria and visual artists Dianna Frid, Edra Soto, and Dorian Sylvain in recognition of their outstanding work in the arts and in neighborhoods across Chicago.

"Receiving any major award is a milestone, for sure, but getting a second and even larger award when the time is right can be momentum building for an artist. Our Next Level program is all about helping power artists at pivotal times in their careers—when they are ready to bring their big dreams and visionary projects to life,” said 3Arts Executive Director Esther Grimm. She adds, “Last night, we announced the expansion of our program as we added two new Next Level awards to express our gratitude to teaching artists for all of the needed work they do, across generations, in schools, neighborhoods, hospitals, prisons, elder care centers, and more. They are our heroes."

During the November 13 event, 3Arts celebrated ten previously announced 3Arts Awards recipients with $30,000 in unrestricted cash grants. Another ten artists were selected by past 3Arts awardees to receive $2,000 unrestricted grants through Make a Wave, an artist-to-artist grant program. Meet the 2023 Make a Wave awardees here

The jam-packed awards ceremony featured high energy performances by Grammy Award-winning opera singer Will Liverman (on break from his starring role in X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X currently running at The Metropolitan Opera); a dance excerpt from Gentle, Into That Good Night by critically acclaimed choreographer Stephanie Martinez (founder of PARA.MAR Dance Theatre); and a grand finale led by Chicago’s inaugural poet laureate avery r. young joined by an “all-star band” of past 3Arts awardees JoVia Armstrong, Meagan McNeal, Bethany Thomas, Caitlin Edwards, and Sam Thousand.

The celebratory evening was hosted by Grimm with event co-chairs Juana Guzman, Will Liverman, Nalani McClendon, and Jason Quiara.

3Arts Next Level Teaching Arts Awards:

Artist, educator, and researcher Miguel "Kane One" Aguilar (2012 3Arts Award) has been painting graffiti in Chicago since 1989. He founded Graffiti Institute in 2012, and in 2013 he curated Outside In: The Mexican-American Street Art Movement in Chicago at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Aguilar holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts (2000) and a Master of Art in Teaching (2011) from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and is a 2012 recipient of the 3Arts Award as a teaching artist. He currently teaches “History of Graffiti” in the Art History department at SAIC and is a practicing visual artist and muralist.

Aguilar says, “Receiving a second award from 3Arts makes me feel really seen, like completely seen. The clandestine nature of my art practice as a graffiti painter and graffiti educator is not favored in the fine arts or educational fields. So to be recognized twice is very affirming and comforting; my work is a lonely road most of the time. The continued support from 3Arts is arguably the most impactful aspect of the work they do. I was walking around my kitchen when Esther called--and once again, I had the familiar feeling that my legs were going to give out when she gave me the news.”

Regin Igloria (2011 3Arts Award) is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and arts administrator based in North Chicago. His drawings, artists’ books, sculptures, and performances portray the human condition as it relates to the natural environment and inhabited spaces. He has extensive experience in arts administration and teaching and founded North Branch Projects, an organization that builds community connections through the book arts. Igloria currently teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in the Contemporary Practices department and has taught at Marwen, Rhode Island School of Design, Snow City Arts, and Carthage College. He is a recipient of a 2011 3Arts Award as a teaching artist, as well as local, national, and international grants and support through artist residencies, and has exhibited internationally. He received his BFA from SAIC and MFA from Rhode Island School of Design.

Igloria says, “I am taking my efforts in leading community (book) binding sessions to a national level, which entails visiting schools and institutions around the country. I am fairly confident that people become nicer people because of where art takes them, and over the course of the last several years, I decided there is an opportunity to engage with new populations and groups of people who may benefit from learning about the book arts. Receiving a second award from 3Arts means more than I can really describe—it means I can take a breath as a human being, not some machine, and know that the work I've been doing has actually had an impact on others.”

3Arts Next Level Visual Arts Awards:

Dianna Frid (2018 3Arts Award) immigrated with her parents and siblings from Mexico to Vancouver, Canada, as a teenager. Based in Chicago since 2000, Frid has exhibited her work in the US, Mexico, Canada, and elsewhere abroad. In her work, she examines the relationships between material texts and textiles. The Latin root of these words is texere: “to weave.” This etymology illuminates how weaving is a seven-thousand-year-old method of coding, akin to writing. Frid’s approach to making is technically closer to drawing and needlework than it is to weaving, and it embraces the interconnected experiences of the linguistic, the visual, and the physical in ways that cloth has done across time. Thread, as Frid uses it, lends itself to re-invigoration without losing its connections to important feminist lineages of craft. Frid has also recently started working in photography, which will be included in her Wormholes Project, a major solo exhibition in Oaxaca in 2025. She is an educator in the Art Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago and received her BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

Frid says, “I have been making art for more than thirty years, through thick and thin, as the saying goes. This award is a recognition of years of dedication, thought, and reflection. Artists are enlivened by challenges that lead to growth and experimentation; at the same time, artists need serious audiences to engage with their work, write about it, and sustain their development for the long term. Organizations such as 3Arts have done terrific work to ameliorate this, and I feel very fortunate.”

Edra Soto (2017 3Arts Make A Wave Award) is a Puerto Rican-born artist, curator, educator, and co-director of the outdoor project space, The Franklin. Soto instigates meaningful, relevant, and often difficult conversations surrounding socioeconomic and cultural oppression, erasure of history, and loss of cultural knowledge. Growing up in Puerto Rico, and now immersed in her Chicago community, Soto has evolved her work to raise questions about constructed social orders, diasporic identity, and the legacy of colonialism. She has exhibited extensively at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, El Museo del Barrio (NY), ICA San Diego, (CA), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY). She has been awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, the Illinois Arts Council Agency Fellowship, the inaugural Foundwork Artist Prize, the Bemis Center’s Ree Kaneko Award, and the US LatinX Art Forum Fellowship, among others. Soto holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and a bachelor’s degree from Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico.

Soto says, “The Next Level Award recognizes how my work has impacted our culture. 3Arts support validates the efforts, sacrifices, and risk taking involved in the development of an artistic practice. Significant non-restricting grants like the Next Level award allow me to continue pursuing my career in a dedicated manner. As an artist that values collaboration, this grant not only supports me, but collaborative services that I constantly solicit to develop my artistic projects.”

Dorian Sylvain (2020 3Arts Award), from the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, is a painter who explores ornamentation, pattern, and design as identifiers of cultural and historical foundations. She is a studio painter and muralist, as well as an art educator, curator, and community planner. Much of her public work addresses issues of beautification inspired by color palettes and patterns found throughout the African diaspora, particularly in architecture. Core to her practice is collaborating with children and communities to elevate neighborhood aesthetics and foster shared understanding. In addition to commissioned studio work, Sylvain has led public art projects over the past four decades that empower communities and expose children to art making. She has partnered with and been commissioned by the South Side Community Art Center, Hyde Park Art Center, National Museum of Mexican Art, DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago Park District, and Chicago Public Art Group. Her three sons work with her as designers, managers, photographers, and painters on many projects. Together they founded “Mural Moves,” a campaign designed to train and connect young artists to public art opportunities.

Sylvain says, “Receiving this award marks an intersection where I can fortify my studio practice and explore my personal voice as an artist, as well as build greater capacity to mentor emerging artists. I hope to create a non-profit that provides greater access to the arts within the schools, community centers, and libraries. Our children are struggling to connect and find direction and often meaning within their lives...the arts can bridge that gap and connect young people with their history and offer them an opportunity to envision and build their own future.”

The 2023 Next Level Teaching Arts Award panelists are: Charles Grode (President & Executive Director for Merit School of Music, Chicago); Jordan LaSalle (Vice President of Education at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.); and Jill LeCesne Potter (Senior Director of Learning Programs at Lyric Opera of Chicago).

The 2023 Next Level Visual Arts Award panelists are: Julie Rodrigues (Executive Director of UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA); Eugenie Tsai (curator and writer, New York, NY); and Folayemi Wilson (Professor of Art and Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Architecture at Penn State, State College, PA).

For more information about 3Arts, please visit

# # #



Katy O’Malley/Alannah Spencer
The Silverman Group, Inc.
847.814.1940 (cell)

download PDF ↓