Recognition for artists: Sondheim Artscape Prize in Baltimore

Cindy Cheng

Baltimore’s most prestigious art prize is the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize, a sizable fellowship awarded to artists who live or work in the Baltimore region. Unlike the DeCordova Museum of Art’s Rappaport Prize, which was recently awarded to Sam Durant, an artist who grew up in the Boston area but now lives in California, the Sondheim Artscape Prize rewards professional artists who participate directly in the local art community. Hats off to Baltimore’s mayor Catherine E. Pugh and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts for recognizing the important contributions that artists make to their neighborhoods.

Mequitta Ahuja, who paints self-portraits and paintings within paintings, combines imagery from art historical sources with folk art technique.

This year, the Sondheim’s seven finalists include Mequitta AhujaMary Anne ArntzenCindy ChengSara DittrichBenjamin KelleyKyle Tata, and Amy Yee, whose work is on display in a special exhibition at the Walters Art Museum. After assessing the artists’ work and interviewing each candidate, jurors Ruba Katrib, Clifford Owens, and Nat Trotman announced that Cindy Cheng was the 2017 winner. Cheng takes home a $25,000 prize and the other finalists each receive $2500. The prize committee also recognizes 26 semi-finalists, whose work is on display in two galleries at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

Mequitta Ahuja
Mequitta Ahuja

Cheng works in sculpture and drawing, creating intriguing Rube Goldberg-like installations that she calls “incubators for history, memory and reflections on the physical and abstract self.” After completing her undergraduate work at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, Cheng moved to Baltimore to enroll in the Post-Baccalaureate Program at MICA. She earned her MFA there in 2011, and currently teaches in MICA’s Drawing Department.

Mary Anne Arntzen
Mary Anne Arntzen’s hand-rendered geometric shapes.
Mary Anne Arntzen
Mary Anne Arntzen
Some of Sara Dittrich’s performance props. “I use devices such as repetition, absurdity, and collaboration to filter in the physical rhythms and movements of the body created by the accumulation of footsteps, breaths, and heartbeats,” she writes in her statement.
Benjamin Kelley’s research-based installation fuses scientific documentation with handmade objects and storytelling.
Kyle Tata’s digital prints riff on the notion that abstraction can obfuscate meaning. In these images, he deconstructs the patterns on safety envelopes.
Amy Yee makes installations and videos that explore commercially-produced  representations of landscape.

Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize 2017 Finalists’ Exhibition, the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD. Through August 13, 2017.

Also on view through August 6 at the Decker and Meyerhoff galleries at MICA is a lively exhibition of the work of the semifinalists. They include Carolyn Case, Heather Clark, Shannon Collis, Hoesy Corona, Rachel Debuque, Selina Doroshenko, Tim Doud, Mary Early, Colin Foster, Emily Francisco, Bryan Funk, Tatiana Gulenkina, C. Harvey, Murial Hasbun, Taha Heydari, Ricardo Hoegg, Nathaniel Lewis, Giulia Livi, Kelly Lloyd, Bruce Mckaig, Scott Pennington, James Singewald, Julia Smith, Beau Vasseur, Katya Villano, Jessica Walton, Xiaofu Wang.

Related posts:
“Painting Not Painting” in Baltimore
Figure painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a finalist for the Turner Prize
The Estate of Robert De Niro, Sr. announces a prize for mid-career painters

 

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