In Brief

Brooklyn Art Nonprofit BRIC Announces $100,000 in Prizes for Under-Recognized Artists

Ten New York-based artists were awarded the first Colene Brown Art Prize. Each of them will receive a $10,000 no-strings-attached grant.

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

The Brooklyn art nonprofit BRIC has awarded 10 under-recognized New York-based artists its first Colene Brown Art Prize. Each of the awardees will receive a $10,000 no-strings-attached grant.

The winners represent a diverse, multi-generational group of artists working across a wide array of disciplines including public art installations, photography, painting, sculpture, and crocheting.

The recipients were selected from a pool of 50 nominations made by a 10-member cohort of New York City-based curators, critics, and artists. The group includes the artists Katherine Bradford, Derek Fordjour, and Nari Ward, executive director of the Bronx Museum Deborah Cullen, and Eugenie Tsai, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum, among others. A selection committee within BRIC chose the final recipients of the award. According to BRIC, nominations were made based on each artist’s “exceptional merit and absence of substantial institutional support.”

The prize is underwritten by artist and BRIC Board Member Deborah Brown in memory of her late mother, Colene Brown. The new prize was launched under the leadership BRIC’s new president Kristina Newman-Scott, the first woman of color to lead the organization. “The Colene Brown Art Prize recipients reflect the diversity of the BRIC community,” said Newman-Scott in a press release. “A wide range of age and origin, we proudly recognize this interdisciplinary group of artists and their important contributions to culture.”

One of the recipients, Xenobia Bailey, is a fiber artist and designer best known for her elaborate, large-scale crochet sculptures and mandalas. Her work traces the evolving history of African American aesthetics since colonialism. Alicia Grullon‘s work includes performance, photography, and video art. She is also known for her activism and community organizing work.

“I cried, was overwhelmed and thankful,” said Grullon when asked if she was surprised to receive the prize. “It is great to learn that others within the art community are interested and supportive of one’s work.”

For Grullon, the prize comes at a timely moment. “As a Latinx woman artist of color, doing conceptual performance art, video and participatory projects, within the precarious nature of this economy and art world, it will help tremendously with implementing future projects, archive and production, childcare, bills, and student loans,” she said. “Stability in this capitalist system is something that is difficult to maintain for people who are poor, chose a non-traditional lifestyle, are formally incarcerated, disabled, and/or have to provide for others,” she added. “Every bit helps and I wish there were more opportunities like these to share with more people.”

See the full list of the 2019 Colene Brown Art Prize Recipients here:

  • 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 in New York; 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)
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