P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Ivan Forde, 2017

MFA, Columbia University

Ivan Forde is an immigrant from Guyana

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MFA in Visual Arts at Columbia University

Born in Guyana, Ivan Forde was two when his mother immigrated alone to the United States so that she could better support her family. Eight years of weekly phone calls and a five-hour plane ride later, Ivan and his four older siblings finally met the cold winter air of New York, their new home. Ivan will never forget the feeling of arriving and the moment of reuniting with his mother.

Growing up in Harlem, he made collages as gifts for his mother, who struggled to support her children and help them adjust while working two jobs. During high school, Ivan’s sister recognized his artistic curiosity and gave him a camera. Soon he began capturing his family, friends, and neighborhood in photographs. A career in art became tangible after working with highly accomplished artists and curators on his first group exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

At Purchase College, State University of New York, Ivan immersed himself in classic poetry to become a stronger reader, earning a bachelor’s degree in literature with an award-winning thesis of self-portraits representing the reader of Paradise Lost. After graduation, he returned to the Studio Museum, among other nonprofit spaces, where he worked with immigrant and first-generation students using photography, literature, and technology to visualize their stories.

Ivan’s work has been recognized by the New York Times, the Whitney Museum, Pioneer Works, Vermont Studio Center, and the Lower East Side Printshop. Now pursuing an MFA in visual art at the Columbia University School of the Arts, Ivan is using printmaking, electronic media, and sound installation on a range of projects, such as illuminating the exciting new chapter of the Epic of Gilgamesh uncovered in December 2015. After his training, Ivan hopes to reveal multiplicity and diversity in epic poetry through an immersive exhibition practice.  

  • Ivan Forde GIF
  • BA Literature | SUNY Purchase 2012
  • MFA Visual Arts | Columbia University
  • Keyholder Residency Program, Lower East Side Printshop, 2014
  • Artist in Residence, Pioneer Works Center for Arts and Innovation, 2013
  • Residency Fellowship Award, Vermont Studio Center
Related Articles

The Opportunity You Shouldn't Pass Up: Apply

The 2025 application is open. Are you a New American who will be 30 or younger as of October 31, 2024, and who will be in graduate school full-time for the 2025-2026 academic year? Check out our eligibility requirements, learn about the Fellowships,...

Read More

The Summer Awaits: How Recent Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows Are Spending Their Summers

From trips to visit family around the world, to internships and research in and out of the lab, the 2018 and 2019 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows have a lot to look forward to this summer.

Read More

Meet the 2017 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows

We are delighted to announce our 2017 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows: 30 outstanding immigrants and children of immigrants from all over the country and world who are pursuing graduate school here in the United States. Selected from 1,775 applicants,...

Read More
transform="translate(188.000000, 15.000000)"