CCAD alum wins prestigious Mellon Foundation fellowship


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Mrinali Álvarez Astacio

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Flamboyan Foundation’s Arts Fund inaugural cohort of Letras Boricuas Fellows includes a Columbus College of Art & Design alum: Mrinali Álvarez Astacio (Fine Arts, 1997). Álvarez Astacio, a visual artist, illustrator, and author who has penned several children’s books, was among the 20 dynamic writers selected to receive the prestigious honor, which includes a $25,000 award for each recipient. The news, announced in late 2021, was picked up by a range of outlets, including Hyperallergic, Publishers Weekly, LitHub, and the Associated Press.

The Letras Boricuas Fellowship aims to “identify, elevate, and amplify the voices of emerging and established Puerto Rican writers on the island and across the United States diaspora,” along with furthering commitment to and to sustaining and enriching Puerto Rico’s vibrant cultural, knowledge, and memory ecosystems and the individuals working within them.

“Twenty vibrant Puerto Rican voices make up this remarkable initial cohort, each one resonant and powerful. These are writers who convey the depth and breadth of Puerto Rico’s stories and histories across literary genre and a range of styles, and who affirm the vital significance of the word through their work,” Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander said in a press release.

Álvarez Astacio was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After graduating from CCAD, she earned a master’s degree in children’s book illustration from Cambridge School of Art in the United Kingdom, where she is presently pursuing a PhD. In addition to writing and illustrating books, Álvarez Astacio has had her work exhibited in such notable galleries as Galleria Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy, and at Coningsby Gallery and Candid Gallery in London.

In her fellowship profile, Álvarez Astacio said that receiving the award serves as recognition of her work as an author-illustrator. “It boosts my motivation, and it is an aid that will significantly support my plans, especially to finish my doctorate in children’s book illustration at Cambridge School of Art in the UK,” she added.

Check out Álvarez Astacio’s most recent publication: Piecitos de bebé (Baby feet, Editorial Destellos, Puerto Rico, 2021). 

Learn more about CCAD’s Fine Arts major or apply here. Discover more about Mrinali Álvarez  Astacio on her website, or by following her on Instagram.