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Christopher Myers included in Colene Brown Art Prize

Christopher Myers included in Colene Brown Art Prize

BRIC Announces First Recipients of $100,000 Colene Brown Art Prize

Ten New York-based Artists To Receive $10,000 Unrestricted Grants Each and Celebrated at BRIC’s Annual Gala on November 7, 2019

2019 Colene Brown Art Prize Recipients. [left to right] Top: Christopher Myers, Nicole Awai, Xenobia Bailey, Kennedy Yanko; Middle: Alicia Grullón, Heidi Lau, Manuel Acevedo, Judith Simonian; Bottom: Nona Faustine, Baseera Khan. Courtesy of BRIC.

(BROOKLYN, OCTOBER 1, 2019) — BRIC, Brooklyn’s leading presenter of arts and cultural programming, is pleased to announce the recipients of the first Colene Brown Art Prize, which awards ten under-recognized New York-based visual artists with $10,000 unrestricted grants. The Colene Brown Art Prize is underwritten by artist and BRIC Board Member Deborah Brown in memory of her late mother, Colene Brown, and is funded through the Harold and Colene Brown Family Foundation.

“We are proud to announce the ten recipients of the inaugural Colene Brown Art Prize, which recognizes the extraordinary talents of these NY-based artists and their contribution to society through their artistic practice,” said Kristina Newman Scott, BRIC President. “We are grateful to our visionary board member Deborah Brown for her generosity and deep understanding of the needs of artists working today.”

“I am privileged to be on the board of BRIC and partner with this great institution to create and administer the Colene Brown Art Prize. With the awards, I hope to aid an outstanding group of artists in the pursuit of their dreams and at the same time recognize the role of not-for-profit cultural institutions like BRIC that make a transformational difference in their communities,” states Deborah Brown.

*Artist bios below.

Manuel Acevedo (born in Newark, NJ; based in the Bronx, NY)
Nicole Awai (born in Port of Spain, Trinidad; based in Brooklyn, NY)
Xenobia Bailey (born in Seattle, WA; based in New York, NY)
Nona Faustine (born and based in Brooklyn, NY)
Alicia Grullón (born in New York; based in the Bronx, NY)
Baseera Khan (born in Denton, TX; based in Brooklyn, NY)
Heidi Lau (born in Macau, China; based in New York, NY)
Christopher Myers (born in Queens, NY; based in Brooklyn)
Judith Simonian (born in Los Angeles, CA; based in New York, NY)
Kennedy Yanko (born in St. Louis, MO; based in Brooklyn, NY)

The recipients were selected from a pool of some 50 nominations which were made by a multidisciplinary cohort composed of ten New York City-based curators, critics, and artists. The nominators include Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, Program Officer, Creativity and Free Expression, Ford Foundation; Katherine Bradford, visual artist; Deborah Cullen, Executive Director, Bronx Museum of the Arts; Derek Fordjour, visual artist; Jennifer McGregor, Senior Director of Arts, Education, and Programs, Wave Hill; Sara Reisman, executive and artistic director, Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum; Jacoba Urist, journalist; Nari Ward, visual artist; and one nominator who chose to remain anonymous. A selection committee within BRIC chose the final ten recipients of the award. Nominations were made based on each artist’s exceptional merit and absence of substantial institutional support.

Established in 1981, BRIC’s multi-faceted contemporary art program presents rigorously curated exhibitions and programs focusing on emerging and mid-career artists whose work captures a rich cross-section of ideas, voices, and artistic media that reflect Brooklyn’s diversity. Adding to its already robust contemporary art offerings, which include residency programs, critically-acclaimed biennial exhibitions, an artist registry, and youth education initiatives, the Colene Brown Art Prize underscores BRIC’s commitment to the artistic community of New York.

Manuel Acevedo (born in Newark, NJ; based in the Bronx, NY) participates in the graffiti movement and in the genesis of hip hop. Acevedo began his career as a street photographer in Newark. Over time, he broadened his media to develop a distinctive style that combines projected imagery, wall drawing, animation, text, and photography. Through these means, Acevedo amplifies the richness, complexity, and uncertainty of the urban landscape and experience. His work, including installations, public art projects, and proposals for utopian projects, intermingles contested histories of specific sites while addressing issues evolving out of gentrification, immigration, and ever-shifting boundaries of space.

Over three decades, Acevedo has exhibited work at such institutions as El Museo del Barrio, the Bronx River Art Center, the Newark Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Yerba Buena Center for the Art. He has been an artist-in-residence in numerous institutions including the Museum of Art and Design in NY; Wave Hill in the Bronx; and Project Row Houses in Houston, TX. His work is in the collections of the Center for Book Arts, NY; the Newark Library, the Morris Museum, all in NJ; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, DC; and Museo de Arte Moderno in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, among others.

Nicole Awai (born in Port of Spain, Trinidad; based in Brooklyn, NY) works with an expanded definition of painting, blending traditional and non-conventional materials including melted vinyl, nail polish, nylon mesh, black resin, glitter, and found objects in her compositions. Through these materials, she creates paintings, installation, and sculptures that elucidate narratives focusing on issues of gender, the negotiation of multiracial identities, and the interconnectedness of material and place. In doing so, she acts to renegotiate the seemingly fixed codes, canons, and terms through which we’ve learned to view the world. Most recently, she participated in New Monuments for New Cities, a project sponsored by the Highline in which artists were asked to imagine new public monuments.

Awai’s work has been included in exhibitions at Five Myles, BRIC, and the Brooklyn Museum, all in Brooklyn; Lesley Heller Workspace, the Vilcek Foundation, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, in NY; MoMA PS1, Queens; Wave Hill, the Bronx; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; the Portland Museum of Art, OR; the Biennale of the Caribbean, Aruba; and the Busan Biennial in Korea. She received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant and an Art Matters Grant. Awai has received the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant as well as an Art Matters Grant. She teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.

Xenobia Bailey (born in Seattle, WA; based in New York, NY) is a fiber artist and designer, best known for her elaborate, large-scale crochet sculptures and mandalas. Her influences include African and Asian culture, Native American philosophy, and embraces the concept of “Cosmic Funk,” practiced by African-American homemakers since Emancipation. Using her practice to cultivate the properties and theory of funk, Bailey infuses this aesthetic with her firm belief that a funk lifestyle can rejuvenate and sustain a community.

Bailey’s work has been shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, both in NY; BRIC; and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA. She has held residencies at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, both in NY; and the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2014 she partnered with students from Boys & Girls High School to design and furnish a home for the Historic Hunterfly Road Houses at Weeksville. Her work held by numerous museums as well as in academic, public, and private collections. In 2017 Bailey designed a vibrantly colored monumentally scaled glass mosaic for the New York City Subway’s 34th Street-Hudson Yards.

Nona Faustine (born and based in Brooklyn, NY) is a photographer and visual artist who delves into the fundamental questions of race and representation in American history. In her White Shoes self-portrait series, she places her own naked body in dialogue with early daguerreotypes of slaves and Black people put on display and politicized as “inferior” and “other.” Through these large-scale landscape photographs, Faustine strives to reconstruct narratives of race and memory, inscribing back into the Western portraiture tradition, those who have been systematically erased, as a means of expressing her own challenging relationship to the storied and mythologized idea of the United States.

Faustine’s work has been shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Schomburg Center for Black Research, the International Center for Photography, the Ford Foundation, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, all in NY; the Brooklyn Museum; Boston University and Harvard University; and the Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil, among many others. Her work has been published in Artforum, the New Yorker, The New York Times, and Hyperallergic, among others. Faustine will also take part in Death Becomes Her at BRIC in 2020. In addition, Faustine was selected to participate in the inaugural class of Black Rock Senegal, a Residency funded by Kehinde Wiley.

Alicia Grullón, (born in New York; based in the Bronx, NY) through participatory performance, photography, and video art, maintains a conceptually driven interdisciplinary practice that critiques the politics of identity-based exclusion and actively embraces the values and contributions of disenfranchised communities. Rooted in an ethos of site-specificity, Grullón’s work embodies storytelling and history to explore identity, decolonization, and belonging as she navigates the signification of her own body as a woman of color and a child of immigrants.

Grullón has shown her work at White Box Harlem, the Latinx Project at NYU, The 8th Floor, and the Center for Book Arts, all in NY; BRIC; Wave Hill, Bronx Art Space, and Longwood Arts Center, all in the Bronx; and Icheon Museum of Art, Korea. She has participated in residencies of the Shandaken Project, Governor’s Island; El Museo del Barrio, the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at NYU, and the Casita Maria Center for the Arts and Learning in the Bronx; and Korea Arts Forum in Icheon, South Korea. In addition, she has received numerous grants and awards including the Franklin Furnace Grant for Performance Art, the Puffin Foundation Grant, and A Blade of Grass Fellowship.

Baseera Khan (born in Denton, TX; based in Brooklyn, NY) draws from the personal and collective experience of being Muslim American, and makes use of fashion, photography, print, language, textile, music, sculpture, and performance to explore the conditions of alienation, displacement, and assimilation that produce multivalent, collaged identities. By using concealment and abstraction as aesthetic strategies, Khan pivots a societally- imposed sense of otherness in a conceptual maneuver that is at once reverential and heretical as she investigates the limits of legibility and honors her own intersectionality.

Khan’s work is currently on view as part of BRIC’s Beyond Geographies: Contemporary Art and Muslim Experience fall exhibition. Her work has also been presented at Jenkins Johnson Projects, in Brooklyn; Participant, Inc., the Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Kitchen, all in NY; Albany Museum, NY; Katonah Museum of Art, NY; Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, CO; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, AZ; and the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism, Germany. She is the recipient of numerous grants, including the Art Matters Grant and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Matching Funds Award. Her work is in the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY.

Heidi Lau (born in Macau, China; based in New York, NY) utilizes clay, a material emblematic of utilitarian as well as artistic production, to reconfigure personal and collective memories rooted in her upbringing in colonial and postcolonial Macau. Her elaborate ceramic constructions reference extensive research on funerary monuments, Taoist beliefs, and indigenous folk customs, weaving together a sense of personal and collective memory, nostalgia and concepts of disappearance and displacement as conditions of contemporary existence.

Lau’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Art and Design and the Museum of Chinese in America, both in NY; the Bronx Museum and the Lehman College Art Gallery, both in the Bronx; Boston Center for the Arts, MA; the Venice Biennial; and the Macao Art Museum in China, among others. She has received awards such as the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant and the Socrates Sculpture Park Emerging Artists Fellowship. She has completed residencies at the Soaring Gardens, Laceyville, PA; the Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans; and the BRIC Media Arts Fellowship, among others. Lau’s work will be shown in BRIC’s exhibition Death Becomes Her in 2020.

Christopher Myers’ (born in Queens, NY; based in Brooklyn) sculptural, fabric-based work hinges on the intersections and manifestations of transnational identity. Whether focused on embroidered Lil Wayne lyrics found in Vietnam or specific patterns engraved into repurposed oil drums in Kenya, Myers recontextualizes materials, mythologies, and narratives to chart the tensions between the intensely provincial and the increasing interconnectedness of this globalized moment.

Myers has exhibited his work at MoMA PS1, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Vassar College, and the Mead Museum at Amherst College, among others. He is the recipient of the Art for Justice Fund Grant and has completed the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Studio Program. Myers’ work is in the collections of the Studio Museum in Harlem as well as the Mead Art Museum. As an illustrator of children’s books, he has received the Caldecott Honor and the Corbett’s Scott King Award

Judith Simonian’s (born in Los Angeles, CA; based in New York, NY) radiant paintings encompass both the concrete and the abstract and express both the expansiveness of the landscape as well as the intimacy of interior spaces. Her work is rooted in recognizable imagery, evoked in swatches of radiant color that reference the painter’s palette and the very act of painting. As she constructs and alters her images in accordance with modern assemblage methods of disjunctive placement, Simonian records the unevenness of perception and illustrates the brain’s ability to reassemble still lives, nature studies, and domestic interiors in irrational yet recognizable ways.

Simonian’s work has been exhibited at the New Museum, MoMA PS1, the Montclair Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and the Seibu Museum in Japan, among many others. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Fisher Gallery at the University of Southern California, and the Eli Broad collection, She has completed residencies at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY; the Dora Maar House in Menerbes, France; and the BAU Institute in Cassis, France. Simonian is the recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship,

Kennedy Yanko (born in St. Louis, MO; based in Brooklyn, NY) is a painter-sculptor interested in reframing the contextual realities of materials, Kennedy Yanko joins quotidian objects with found industrial metals and dried paint skins in unexpectedly lyrical combinations, producing sculptures and installations that reveal the frictions inherent in altering preconceived notions. Influenced by grappling with her own mixed racial heritage, Yanko seeks to reveal the innate links between seemingly dissimilar objects, while allowing her materials to express their past histories as they fuse together into an indivisible whole.

Yanko's work has been exhibited at BRIC and Jenkins Johnson, both Brooklyn; The Faction Arts Projects, NY; Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ; Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit; and Art Center South Florida, Miami, FL. She has completed residencies at The Living Theater, NY; Fountainhead in Miami, FL; the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL; and Galeria Leyendecker in Tenerife, Canary Islands.

BRIC is a leading presenter of cultural programming in Brooklyn. BRIC presents and incubates work by artists and media-makers who reflect the diversity that surrounds us. BRIC programs reach hundreds of thousands of people each year. Their main venue, BRIC House in Downtown Brooklyn, offers a public media center, a major exhibition space and project room, two performance spaces, a glass-walled TV studio, and artist workspaces. Some of BRIC’s acclaimed programs include the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival held each summer in Prospect Park, a renowned contemporary art exhibition series, and two distinct media initiatives: Brooklyn Free Speech, Brooklyn's public access initiative, and BRIC TV, a community TV channel and digital network. BRIC also offers arts and media education and other vital programs at BRIC House and throughout Brooklyn.

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