Being a sucker for punishment I am pulling the trigger on a Guggenheim Fellowship application this year. With an application due in late August it is one of the major grants possible, is privately funded, is very competitive, doesn't restrict itself to the arts, is international, pays about $35,000 and is project based. I have applied numerous times. Wish me luck.
Here's the outcome of my 1982 application (for awards given 1983):This is a postcard from Harry Callahan, whom I'd asked to write a recommendation for the fellowship.
Above is the front of the card.
I've written before about accepting defeat in the face of this kind of repetitive failure and I truly believe the only reason I am applying again is I've forgotten how much it hurt to fail the last time. One of the advantages to aging, perhaps, is that I honestly don't remember.
The really difficult part of applying is you must seek out four people to recommend your award. Think about this for a minute: you have to reach out to the most highly placed people in your field that you can think of, ask them to write on your behalf, then, assuming your application fails, which, of course, is the most likely of outcomes, go back to them and ask them to write again! This is humiliating, humbling, and puts you in a position of outright groveling, which I really don't like to do. This is another reason I have let years lapse in between applications.
Who will I choose? Well, I won't put them on the spot by naming them here but suffice it to say that so far I have one east coast museum curator, one western one, am in the process of asking a former winning photographer and am still searching for the fourth.
You can find out more about the Guggenheim Fellowships here.