Two local artists who were awarded with the 2019 Foundation Trust fellowships to practice their art at FYACS in Melrose will soon show their work. The fellowships provide each artist with studio space; a stipend for materials and supplies; and a solo exhibit.

The Foundation Trust is a private operating foundation that partners with small to medium-sized New England nonprofits to support artistic and cultural initiatives that advance inclusivity, diversity, and the expression and unification of distinct voices and perspectives. 

“FYACS is a unique haven for artists of all abilities to practice their art,” says Dr. Joseph Spinazzola, Executive Director of the Foundation Trust. “We are thrilled to partner with FYACS for the second year in a row to raise up a diversity of voices to this community.”

Rebecca Flores-Mantilla, a Malden resident who was awarded the 12-month Emerging Artist fellowship in December 2019, works in acrylic and non-toxic oil paint. The subject of her artwork focuses on how food nourishes both body and soul. “Food is about so much more than nutrition. It evokes memory; it’s an expression of heritage,” says the artist, who is working on a piece inspired by Spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie, called Timelines. “In the layers, you can see openings, colors, variegation. Similar to someone’s timeline,” says Flores-Mantilla, who is half Greek and half Filipino.

Flores-Mantilla says having a dedicated studio has been essential during the pandemic. “When you have family with you in tight quarters, having a place of solitude to create art is so important,” she says. The studio has also given her the space to create larger works, says Flores-Mantilla, who used to primarily create smaller illustrations. “When I look at my previous artwork, it feels constrained. Now I can express myself on larger canvases in a way I couldn’t before. I’m thankful for the fellowship for providing that opportunity.” Flores-Mantilla’s artwork can be seen on Instagram at sampaguita68.

Erika Lally received the two-year Working Artist award in January 2020. Lally’s art echoes themes of “things hidden in plain sight” to explore the legacy of the colonization of America, incorporating organic objects such as tree bark and bees wax into mixed media canvases and small collages. In Lally’s art, the viewer will often see images hidden in forest landscapes, which Lally calls the “ghost spirits” of America’s past, such as images of enslaved Africans seeking freedom.

Lally who works a trauma therapist and has a Master’s degree in art therapy, says “Without this fellowship, I wouldn’t have been able to make the body of art I’ve been making. I’ve never had a studio before and having the space to get lost in my thoughts and make art has been incredibly important during the pandemic.” See Erika Lally’s art on Instagram at

“The first year of this partnership between the Foundation Trust and FYACS turned out different than anyone could have expected, but we are thrilled that Rebecca and Erika were able to connect to and grow their art in new ways,” remarks Lauren Liecau, Manager of the Foundation Trust. “We are proud to support FYACS in elevating and embracing the creativity and diversity of our community and we look forward to welcoming our next fellows.”

“We are grateful that the Foundation Trust has generously supported FYACS in our efforts to prioritize diversity, inclusion, and equity,” says Kris Rodolico, Executive Director of FYACS, “especially as the pandemic has challenged us to find new ways to make art accessible to everyone.”

A solo exhibition of Rebecca Flores-Mantilla’s work will be held November 20-22, 2020. Erika Lally’s  exhibition will be held in the spring of 2021. Watch the FYACS website to learn more at

Find out more about the Foundation Trust at:

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