2021 Art Writing Incubator Jun 26 - Aug 03, 2021

Where does art criticism belong in a world in crisis? The last year has upended the art world, dissolved cultural norms, and revealed fractures in our sociopolitical systems. Burnaway’s 2021 Art Writing Incubator (June 26 – August 3) will use the hundreds of cultural writers, activists and arts workers who refuse to ignore or return to pre-pandemic structures of inequalities as a model for training writers to rigorously confront present realities through their work.

For the last six years, under the guidance of leading writers, critics and artists, Burnaway’s Arts Writing Incubator program has equipped participants with tools for pitching, writing good artist statements and producing considered criticism. The five-week program begins with a session hosted by Burnaway’s editorial masthead and subsequent weeks led by guest mentors. In addition, Burnaway has invited a renowned cultural figure to give a keynote public talk addressing the yearly theme. Over the course of the program, students will formally propose, develop, and complete a long-form writing project with one-on-one feedback from Burnaway’s editors. Following the completion of the program, these works will be compiled into a small chapbook circulated on Burnaway’s platform. 

a purple and yellow poster announcing the 2021 AWrI Mentors


Paul Chan is an artist, writer, and publisher who lives in New York. Chan is the winner of the Hugo Boss Prize in 2014, a biennial award honoring artists who have made a visionary contribution to contemporary art. His work has been exhibited widely in many international shows including: Plato in LA, Getty Villa in Los Angeles in 2018; Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany in 2012, the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009; and the Whitney Biennial, in New York in 2006. Solo exhibitions have been mounted at The Cycladic Museum of Art in Athens, The Renaissance Society in Chicago, The Serpentine Gallery in London, and the New Museum in New York. A mid-career survey entitled Selected Works was mounted at Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland in 2014.


Amber Esseiva is the Associate Curator at The Institute for Contemporary Art and Virginia Commonwealth University (ICA VCU).

Seeds, a juried show. applications open through August 5 at Westobou Gallery, Augusta

Sukhdev Sandhu is the Associate Professor of English and Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University.

DeForrest Brown Jris a writer, DJ, cultural theorist and the author of Assembling a Black Counter Culture, a general history of techno and adjacent electronic music with a focus on Black experiences in industrialized labor systems, and explores the development of on-the-ground culture in relation to a unique American art form.

Kristin Dombek is an essayist and cultural journalist, and the author of The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism. She has taught writing at Queens College, Queens University of Charlotte, Princeton University, and New York University.


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all AWrI events in 2021 will be held virtually. Tuition for the 2021 cycle is $250, but thanks to generous funding from Critical Minded all BIPOC applicants will be accepted at a reduced fee. Additional needs-based support will be considered by Burnaway for non-BIPOC applicants. 

Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez’s Casta Paintings on view at Halsey Institute in Charleston through July16

To learn more about the 2021 AWrI, watch the Information Session and review the ToolKit which includes a schedule and detailed instructions on how to fill out the application:

Information Session Video
AWrI Application-Toolkit:
Download PDF

AWrI 2021 Dates: June 26 – August 3
Applications are due Monday, May 17 by 12:00 AM EST.

For all other inquiries, please email [email protected].


The 2021 edition of the Art Writing Incubator project is supported by Critical Minded, an initiative to invest in cultural critics of color cofounded by The Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Students have use of digital works and criticism with support from Library Stack. Library Stack connects digital materials from art, design, theory and architecture to global library cataloging systems.