Elissa Washuta, a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, is the author of My Body Is a Book of Rules, a memoir published by Red Hen Press. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Filter Literary Journal, and Third Coast, and she has been featured in Seattle Weekly and CityArts. She recently received a Potlatch Fund Native Arts Grant, Artist Trust's Grants for Artist Projects (GAP), and a 4Culture Grant. In 2012, she was named an inaugural fellow in the Made at Hugo House program. She serves as adviser for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington and teaches in the  MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

"Artist Trust cares deeply about artists--
our processes, our challenges and the ideas we strive to make real."
A Letter from Elissa Washuta


In 2010, fresh out of graduate school with a brand-new creative writing diploma on my wall, I was figuring out my standing in the writing world. I knew I wasn't a hobbyist, but who would give me grant money or unsupervised residency time with no strings attached? I figured those perks were meant for writers far beyond my humble station in life.

I enrolled in Artist Trust's EDGE Professional Development Program for Literary Artists in order to help with the transition from student life to the career I was ready for. With expert teachers and an impressive peer group, I began to see my work as my profession. I learned about the monetary value of my time. Being a writer had tremendous meaning inside me; now, Artist Trust was teaching me how to use that inner force to navigate in the world.

Artist Trust cares deeply about artists--our processes, our challenges and the ideas we strive to make real. The gap between idea and execution is filled with day-to-day struggles, some of which my cohort mulled over in our EDGE sessions: little time to write after work; haziness surrounding business matters; uncertainty about how to present oneself in grant applications. 

Artist Trust awards grants to help artists in various stages of their careers to overcome these obstacles. Two years after taking EDGE, I received Artist Trust's Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) to support preparing my memoir, My Body Is a Book of Rules, for publication. The award gave me freedom at a crucial point in my process--it was the boost I needed to wrap up revisions and deliver a beautiful book.

Without Artist Trust's intervention at tender points in my development as a working artist, how would I have figured out how to show grant panelists that I did, indeed, have a clear vision for my work? When would I have summoned up the courage to convince myself that it was not only my work that was serious: it was my literary career! Your gift to Artist Trust today will help Washington artists take the leaps that keep our communities alive.

Thank you for your support of Artist Trust!
Elissa Washuta
Since 1986, Artist Trust has invested over $10 million in Washington State artists of all disciplines through grants, career training, and professional resources, to help them pursue their career goals and enrich our community.

Read more about the artists we've supported: