A trio of faculty in the UToledo College of Arts and Letters are recipients of The Arts Commission’s Merit Awards for 2022, which recognizes outstanding local literary, performing and visual artists.
Dr. Ayendy Bonifacio, an assistant professor of U.S. ethnic literary studies, received the award for Literary Arts; Deborah Orloff, a professor of art, received the award for Visual Arts, Photography; and Jordan Buschur, an instructor in the department of art, received the award for Visual Arts, Painting/Drawing.
Bonifacio received $3,000 and Orloff and Buschur each received $1,500 as part of their awards.
Bonifacio was born in Santiago De Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, and raised in East New York, Brooklyn. Using Spanish, English and Spanglish, his creative writing explores themes of race, immigration, citizenship, Dominican identity, memory and loss. His writing is published in The New York Times, Slate, Juked, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Acentos Review, The Black Scholar, ASAP/Journal and The Hellebore. He is the author of “Dique Dominican” (2017) and “To the River, We Are Migrants” (2020). His writing has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Ohio Writers Series, the Association for Equality and Excellence in Education (AEEE) and the Sacramento State Festival of the Arts.
“As a poet who writes about marginalized communities, support for my writing goes beyond me and extends to countless unnamed people,” Bonifacio said. “The Merit Award is validation that our stories matter — that we matter.”
Orloff’s artwork has been included in numerous exhibitions at national and international venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, and her current work, “Elusive Memory,” was selected by Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography for their Midwest Photographers Project. Her latest work, “Elusive Memory: Lost Histories,” explores the relationship between photography and memory while evoking the universal experience of struggling to recall the past. The images allude to lost family histories — particularly as they relate to forced migration (the case for her ancestors who fled Russian pogroms) — and speak to the ephemeral nature of memory.
“I’m so grateful for the Art Commission’s award for my new work, ‘Elusive Memory: Lost Histories,’ ” Orloff said. “The funding is indispensable to the production of a new series, and I am so honored by the recognition. This award allows me to take the series in a new direction and advance the project in truly meaningful ways.”
Buschur’s work has been shown widely, including exhibitions with the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, Mich., Center for Book Arts in New York and Field Projects in New York. She participated in residencies at the Wassaic Project, Chashama North and the Vermont Studio Center. Awards include the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and the Kimmel Foundation Artist Award. Her paintings have been featured in print in New American Paintings and UPPERCASE Magazine. She is a co-founder of Co-Worker Gallery and has curated exhibitions at Cuchifritos Gallery, Spring/Break Art Show and the Neon Heater.
“The Merit Award is a gift encouraging experimentation in my studio practice and reaffirming my commitment to building community through artist-led initiatives,” Buschur said. “It is an honor to receive a Merit Award to support my work and foster my ability to pursue artistic paths yet unrealized.”
Visit the Arts Commission website to read more about the merit awards program including other 2022 award recipients.