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Rochester Artist, Matthew Vanderlee, Receives Community Art Fellowship

May 9, 2023

smallMatters Institute (sMI), Publisher of Lake Affect Magazine, announced today that Matthew Vanderlee, a Rochester based artist, curator, and educator, has been awarded a Community Art Fellowship to support his efforts creating, curating, and facilitating community art making and civic engagement throughout Western/Central New York and the Finger Lakes Region.

Vanderlee was a Special Education and Art teacher for 14 years – in Brooklyn and Canandaigua; and has over 20 years of experience facilitating the organization, curation, and installation of art events. He has worked for and with organizations like Christie’s Auction House in Rockefeller Center and The Green Project in New Orleans.

At this time, Vanderlee creates artwork, facilitates art programming, writes about art, publicly speaks about art related issues, and curates art shows with a variety of local organizations that include The Yards Art Collective and Frank’s Chop Shop. Through a deliberate focus on collaboration, he examines the function of art in contemporary society, saying “I work to contextualize the role of art as something that functions within a community and contributes in an essential way to the health of that place or group.”

“Matt Vanderlee is the perfect candidate for our first Community Art Fellowship in Rochester,” said Roy Allen – President of smallMatters institute, a 501-c-3 educational nonprofit organization and Publisher of Lake Affect Magazine. “His dedication to craft, education, and creative excellence contributes significantly to everyone he meets. It is critically important that communities like Rochester, identify local art heroes, like Matt, and support them financially so that they can focus on their art and not worry so much about paying the bills.”

sMI’s Community Art Fellowship is merit-based and awards an annual stipend of $15,000 to practicing professional artists of exceptional talent and ability. The award is unrestricted and will allow Vanderlee to continue his current artistic endeavors in the Rochester area, while also enabling him to collaborate as an advisor and curator of sMI’s forthcoming Rochester Collection – a Celebration of People, Creativity, and Community.


About smallMatters Institute (sMI)

smallMatters Institute is a 501 ( c ) 3 educational nonprofit organization whose mission is to inform and educate individuals and the general public on how to embrace ideas that unite us. Its research team identifies gaps in society and explores economic solutions to fill the gaps. Inspired by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, the pioneer of microfinancing, who promotes the idea that economic forces can be harnessed to solve important social problems, sMI supports the integration of traditional and venture philanthropy, social impact investing, and the best practices of business to solve the age old problem of planning for and sustaining multi-generational civic betterment and leadership.


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