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Call to Dream: The Sam Francis Fellowship

Launching in 2022

Sam Francis in his Broadway studio, Santa Monica. Photo by Jerry Sohn. Courtesy of the Sam Francis Foundation.
Sam Francis in his Broadway studio, Santa Monica. Photo by Jerry Sohn. Courtesy of the Sam Francis Foundation.

18th Street Arts Center and Sam Francis Foundation are pleased to announce Call to Dream: The Sam Francis Fellowship, an ongoing artist residency exchange between Los Angeles and three other cities foundational to the artist Sam Francis’s development: Tokyo, Mexico City, and Paris. As an artist residency program based in Santa Monica for over 30 years, 18th Street Arts Center will organize the exchanges between Los Angeles-based artists and artists with partner residency programs in each of these three cities, with the goal of fostering cultural relationships between our cities and nurturing an international cohort of artists. 18th Street Arts Center and Sam Francis Foundation are thrilled to embark on this journey together, exploring cultural ambassadorship, and fostering a collaborative international artist network that will bring powerful artistic minds and research together to shift our paradigms around intractable global issues.

Sam Francis Foundation Director Debra Burchett-Lere describes how such international exchanges were foundational not only to Sam Francis’s artistic practice, but also influenced his view of the artist’s role in society:

“The importance of exploring new environs expanded

Francis’s understanding of the world and directly affected his oeuvre by exposure to new artistic materials he discovered while painting in different studios around the world. Francis often wrote about the important role of the artist in society. How artists guide us to contemplate who we are, what we believe in, and how we got here. Traveling and working in new environments around the world enhances one’s ability to be in touch with our humanity and participate in a larger dialogue.”

18th Street Arts Center Executive Director Jan Williamson expresses how fulfilling it is to be working with the Sam Francis Foundation on this initiative:

“This residency exchange is incredibly forward thinking and inspiring in its goals to cultivate artists as ambassadors, and facilitate cultural exchange around the world. It takes an artist foundation like Sam Francis Foundation to really understand the value of cultural exchange through artists - in bringing unity, building bigger world views, and creating deeper levels of understanding.”

The first residency exchange will kick off in 2022 with a focus on Mexico City, and the artist selection process will be conducted through a series of nominations, with a panel of experts making the final decision. 18th Street has created a close partnership with SOMA, in Mexico City, to structure this exchange and provide a continuity of excellent support to the selected artist fellows.

18th Street Arts Center will also collaborate with the Sam Francis Foundation to research their deep archive of oral histories around Sam Francis and his network of artistic influence in Santa Monica to add to their Culture Mapping 90404 project (, as well as create a series of oral history mini-documentaries unveiling new revelations about the art scene in Santa Monica and the larger region over the past 60 years. After a competitive process, Tiana Williams, a USC graduate student in Cinema and Media Studies who specializes in archives, oral histories, and documentary filmmaking, was selected as the Inaugural Sam Francis Media Fellow.


Tiana Williams

Tiana Williams is a filmmaker, researcher and activist archivist. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Digital Media and African American Studies from UC Davis and is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California. As a McNair Scholar, she conducted an original oral history-based research project that investigated the prisoners’ rights movement of the 1970s by reviving and analyzing archival materials. This experience inspired her to become more engaged with activist praxis as she produced social justice centered documentaries, helped build a radio program that dealt with confronting America’s mass incarceration crisis, and worked with KALW Productions in teaching journalism and radio production to incarcerated men inside Solano State Prison. Her work overall leverages oral history methodologies, critical race theory and abolitionist praxes to combat the suppression of liberatory narratives within the archive.


Building on Sam Francis’s creative legacy, the Sam Francis Foundation is dedicated to the transformative power of art as a force for change. Our stated mission is to further a greater understanding of Sam Francis’s art and ideas through a broad array of programs and activities designed to educate, inform, and catalyze new thinking about the importance of creativity in society.


Founded in 1988, 18th Street Arts Center is one of the top 20 artist residency programs in the US, and the largest in Southern California. Conceived as a radical think tank in the shape of an artist community, 18th Street supports artists from around the globe to imagine, research, and develop significant, meaningful new artworks and share them with the public. We strive to provide artists the space and time to take risks, to foster the ideal environment for artists and the public to directly engage, and to create experiences and partnerships that foster positive social change.

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