Stephanie Cox and Gao Hong awarded individual artist grants from Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council

Cox received an Emerging Artist Grant to create a comic book for young and young adult readers, and Hong received an Advancing Artist Grant to create a new composition for pipa and cello.

Erica Helgerud ’20 30 April 2024 Posted In:
Collage of headshots of Stephanie Cox and Gao Hong.

Stephanie Cox, senior lecturer in French, and Gao Hong, director of the Chinese Music Ensemble and senior lecturer in Chinese musical instruments, have each received an arts programming grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC), a nonprofit arts agency.

Headshot of Stephanie Cox.
Stephanie Cox

Cox received a $3,000 Emerging Artist Grant to create a comic book for young and young adult readers in collaboration with Chérif Kéita, William H. Laird Professor of French and the Liberal Arts. The comic book will focus on Nokutela Mdima Dube, a forgotten hero of South Africa who had an unmarked grave until Kéita discovered it. Cox will draw the pages of the comic book and assemble around 100 copies by hand to give out in the community for free. To print the books, Cox will use the risograph printer in Carleton’s print studio — and she invites any students with experience using the printer to contact her if they would like to experiment alongside her.

“I am very excited about collaborating with the Northfield Municipal Library, connecting with the community, and sharing our excitement about the connection Northfield has with this visionary woman and the school she founded with her husband, John Langalibalele Dube, which was central to the training of Black South African intellectuals and artists and prepared them to fight against Apartheid,” Cox said. “We are also eager to have conversations with young readers about their experience of having big dreams. In the end, their feedback on the book will help improve the story for its intended audience: the South African school children Chérif is eager to reach.”

Headshot of Gao Hong holding her pipa.
Gao Hong

Hong received a $5,000 Advancing Artist Grant to create a new composition for pipa and cello, which she is specifically writing for Anthony Ross, principal cello player of the Minnesota Orchestra.

“I am planning to invite Anthony Ross to Carleton to perform the world premiere of this new work, and he will also give a cello master class to our Carleton students,” Hong said. “The master class and recital will benefit all Carleton cello students, Western music students, non-Western music students, and the whole Carleton community, providing an opportunity to experience East-meets-West, cross-cultural classical music with world music fusion creativity.”

The SEMAC Board of Directors awarded 21 grants for a total of $89,000 in funding to individual artists throughout southeastern Minnesota, including thirteen Advancing Artist Grants and eight Emerging Artist Grants. Recipients were selected through a competitive process with applications judged on artistic merit and community impact, as all granted activities will culminate in a public capstone event. SEMAC congratulates the award winners and looks forward to celebrating the creativity these grants will bring to southeastern Minnesota.

This activity is made possible through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council in cooperation with a private foundation. SEMAC is designated by the Minnesota State Arts Board as the regional arts council for eleven southeastern Minnesota counties: Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, and Winona.

For more information about SEMAC’s grant programs, visit

SEMAC logo.