2016 Individual Artist Awards
Distinguished Juror: Lisa Melandri, Executive Director of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
At Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM), Melandri is charged with the leadership, administration, and management of the region’s premier contemporary, non-collecting institution. Since Joining CAM in 2012, Melandri has reshaped the exhibition program and launched such initiatives as: Street Views, a monumental exterior façade exhibition series; Audible Interruptions, a guest-curated sound art series which activates the interstitial spaces of the Museum; and a landscape design project for CAM’s internal courtyard, on view in the summer months. Melandri’s curatorial projects at CAM include Ron Gorchov: Serapis, Brenna Youngblood: Loss Prevention, Toyin Odutola: Untold Stories, and two Street Views projections: Jennifer Steinkamp: Orbit and Marco Brambilla: Materialization/De-Materialization.
Prior to joining CAM, Melandri served as the Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, where, during her eleven-year tenure, the museum grew significantly in scope and size. While at SMMoA, she curated a number of notable exhibitions, featuring such artists as Mickalene Thomas, Marco Brambilla, Alberto Burri, William Pope.L, Philip Guston, Al Taylor, and Beatrice Wood.
Melandri received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Master's degree in Art History from the Williams College Graduate Program.
The international call for entry yielded highly diversified candidates from 33 states of the United States and nearly 40 different countries. We extend our deep gratitude to Ms. Melandri for her expertise, diligence, and serious consideration of all of our candidates, as demonstrated in her quotes regarding the work of the 2016 winners.
"Downen has an extraordinary instinct for space and an ability to completely transform each place with her installations. The work is poetic, lyrical, but also powerful in its capacity to make the viewer reassess space, scale, atmosphere and environment. I also feel that the work was evolved and grown and continues to have extraordinary effect from project to project. Inspired balance of aesthetic and formal choice with maximum spatial impact."
"Rara's work creates immersive audio visual universes. The Pollinators privileges the almost imperceptible in nature and forces us to slow down. Other works are hypnotic and perfectly scored--in total, the work asks us to slow down and really look and listen. It is as contemplative as it is beautiful. These works translated beautifully in thumbnails; I can only imagine their impact in the gallery setting."
Breathing Lights, 2016
Big Bang, 2014
"My first comment is that I have never seen photography/video like this. This artist has an extraordinarily unique voice. The work is beautiful, poignant, uncomfortable, strange, funny, and incisive all at once. The work reframes the ideas of portraiture, identity, and family. It is also salient to our notions of America and American-ness. I feel these are portraits that I have never seen before--an amazing feat in and of itself."
"This work proves a balance between "systems" and documentary inquiry while producing work that is quite beautiful and lyrical in its final form. I am taken by the artist's attention to pure architecture while finding a system for capturing places of meaning through an automated drawing system. The drawings bring to mind the great system works of artists like Mark Lombardi or Mark Reynolds or Chana Horowitz. And, the peregrine projections reveal ghostly monuments that rise from lines like faded memories."
"These photographs are so simple and straight forward and manage to bring into focus all the complicated and layered emotions and physicalities of teenagers. They are so poignant and in the tradition of great photographers like Cathy Opie. This work and Frank's other works allow us a lens into our adolescent humanity--with all of its strangeness, insecurity, and fragility."
"I am struck by the seriousness of endeavor in this work. The projects are so thoughtful and display a perfect balance between the seriousness of content and the beauty of the formal solution--in performance and video. The impact and rigor of this work was so apparent even through these few samples."
"From public to intimate in scale, the work balances a serious inquiry into issues of water and conservation with a sly humor and wit that creates wide appeal. The hose works are actually incredibly eloquent, elegant, and poignant--especially being hand-made. I was taken by the hand of the artist being visible in work that is about the quotidian."
"This artist is remarkable for his ability to create immersive works that allow for total sensory experience. They are beautiful, powerful, and impressive in scale and feel."