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Finalists win funding through Grilled Cheese Grant

Five art and design students, including three seniors from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), were selected as finalists for this year’s annual Grilled Cheese Grant. After an extremely successful event on April 1, 2023, all five students will receive full funding for their senior thesis projects for the first time in Grilled Cheese Grant history.

Andrea Cabrera Manuel ’23 (New Studio Practice: Fine Arts), Jo Willis ’23 (NSP: Fine Arts) and Brandom Terres-Sanchez ’23 (NSP: Fine Arts) were the finalists selected from MIAD. Jovanny Hernandez Caballero and Xarion Latimore were finalists selected from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Grilled Cheese Grant, an alumni-run event supporting undergraduate seniors at MIAD and UW-Milwaukee, took place for its eighth year at Vanguard Sculpture Services. Attendees donated $5 or more for a grilled cheese sandwich made with locally-sourced ingredients and voted for one of five selected finalists. Organizers raised a total of $6,626.51 this year, the majority of which will fund the finalists’ senior projects. The remainder of the funds will support Diverse & Resilient, an organization that supports the LGBTQ+ community in Milwaukee. Organizers credit the unprecedented success of this year’s event to the stellar venue and the return to in-person programming for the first time since 2019.

Cabrera Manuel, who placed first in the competition, says the grant will allow her to be even more ambitious with her senior thesis project. “I was also able to conduct research and test different software to try to give room to new technologies and approaches of making into my practice,” she continues. “Overall, having the funding to develop my thesis has opened new interests that I’m excited to keep developing after graduation.”

Willis, who placed third, appreciates that the funding will guarantee being able to continue work on their bronze casting. “This bronze casting holds a lot of personal importance to my practice and symbolizes a moment of transition and growth,” they explain. “Moving forward after graduation, it will serve as a reminder of what I’ve learned at MIAD and will continue to be a part of my practice.”

Terres-Sanchez, who placed fifth, emphasizes the impact of having a fully-funded thesis. “It allowed me to focus on the making of the project and not worry about being able to afford [it],” they say. “It allows me to have the confidence entering the last weeks of school knowing that my thesis is fully funded. It also means so much that people believe in what me and my peers are creating, so thank you Grilled Cheese Grant!”

View art by Andrea, Jo and Brandom, along with the works of their talented peers, at MIAD’s Senior Exhibition from April 21 – May 6.


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MIAD student projects fully funded by Grilled Cheese Grant

For the second year in a row, all five Grilled Cheese Grant finalists—including two Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) students—had their projects fully funded. In its ninth year, the MIAD alumni-run and crowd-funded grant awards funding to artists working in Southern Wisconsin.


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