The Contemporary Austin is pleased to announce that artist Rodney McMillian is the winner of the inaugural Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize.
In addition to receiving the award in the amount of $100,000, McMillian will receive a solo exhibition at the museum’s downtown venue, the Jones Center, with the option to extend the exhibition to the museum’s fourteen-acre outdoor site, the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria. A scholarly publication and public programming will also be developed around the exhibition. The exhibition is scheduled to open to the public on February 3, 2018.
Rodney McMillian (American, born 1969 in Columbia, South Carolina, lives and works in Los Angeles, California) received his MFA in 2002 from the California Institute of the Arts, a post-baccalaureate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000, and his BA (Foreign Affairs) from the University of Virginia in 1991.
In 2016, McMillian was the subject of three solo museum exhibitions at the following venues: the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Aspen Art Museum in 2015, an exhibition that traveled in 2016 to MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York. McMillian has also had solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2009); The Kitchen, New York City (2008); and the NAK Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, Germany (2007), among others. His work has been featured prominently in biennials including the 12th Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates (2015) and the 2008 Whitney Biennial, New York; as well as in many group exhibitions including at the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway (2016 and 2005); the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and the Contemporary Art Museum Houston (both 2014); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012 and 2006); Project Row Houses, Houston (2010); and The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago and Artpace, San Antonio (both 2008). He has received awards from The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation (2011); United States Artists and Art Matters (both 2008); and the William H. Johnson Foundation for the Arts (2007). McMillian has been represented by Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Culver City, California, since 2002 and by Maccarone, New York, since 2012.
Blending the personal with the political, McMillian has worked in a range of mediums and materials, including sculpture, painting, video, performance, and immersive environments, to explore themes of class, gender, race, social history, and culture. His work frequently incorporates found and scavenged materials—what the artist has labeled “post-consumer objects”—as well as techniques of interactivity and performativity, resulting in unique forms with a deep relevance to their context and time.
McMillian was selected by an independent advisory committee made up of renowned curators and art historians from across the U.S. Led by Heather Pesanti, Senior Curator of The Contemporary Austin, this year’s inaugural advisory committee included Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator and Head of Modern Art Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Naomi Beckwith, Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Peter Eleey, Chief Curator, MoMA PS1; Hamza Walker, Executive Director, LAXART; and Heidi Zuckerman, Nancy and Bob Magoon CEO and Director, Aspen Art Museum.
“An award such as this can enable an artist to reimagine what is possible for one’s practice or one’s self,” says McMillian. “In some cases, it could actually be a lifeline. I am very honored and thrilled to be a recipient. Thank you to Ms. Booth, The Contemporary Austin, and the advisory committee.”
Senior Curator Heather Pesanti states, “It’s been an incredible learning experience to be part of laying the groundwork and process for this inaugural Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize. We all feel quite grateful that Suzanne has selected our museum as the hosting venue. The opportunity that the prize and its correlated resources present to the artist have the potential to be immeasurable and profound: the recognition, the cash prize, the ability to make new work, and the publication as evidentiary document (or as an artist’s book). Rodney McMillian is at the perfect moment in his career trajectory for this prize, an artist who has been well exhibited and respected in the field, but for whom the resources provided through this opportunity will ideally be a catalyst for new paths in his work.”
Founder of the prize Suzanne Deal Booth says, “In establishing this prize for The Contemporary Austin, my hope was to reinforce the museum’s mission of transformation: first and foremost the Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize intends to be transformative for the selected artist, but beyond that, for the institution and the community. The selection of Los Angeles–based artist Rodney McMillian reflects the guidance and decision of an exemplary advisory committee of curators from around the country who allowed us to broaden our reach. As the patron, I look forward to witnessing the project as it unfolds, and to seeing the dynamic possibilities that Rodney brings to the museum and the city of Austin.”
IMAGES: Photograph of Rodney McMillian courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.
Rodney McMillian, pod: frequencies to a manifestationing (detail), 2016. Vases, wood shelves, spray paint, fabric, chicken wire, PA system, and sound installation. Dimensions variable. Installation view, Chisholm’s reverb, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, 2016. Artwork © Rodney McMillian. Image courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Photograph by Robert Wedemeyer.
Installation view, Rodney McMillian: The Black Show, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, 2016. Artwork © Rodney McMillian. Image courtesy the artist; Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania; Maccarone, New York and Los Angeles; and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Photograph by Constance Mensh.
Stephanie Barron, Naomi Beckwith, Peter Eleey, Heather Pesanti, Hamza Walker, Heidi Zuckerman
Senior Curator and Head of Modern Art Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Stephanie Barron is Senior Curator and Modern Art Department Head at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Among her groundbreaking exhibitions and publications over the past forty years are The Russian Avant-Garde, 1910-1930: New Perspectives; German Expressionist Sculpture; Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany; Exiles + Émigrés: The Flight of European Artists from Hitler, Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900–2000, and exhibitions of David Hockney, Ed Kienholz, Ken Price, Maria Nordman, Sharon Lockhart, and Alexander Calder, several of which featured installations designed by Frank Gehry. She has been responsible as well for Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images with installation by John Baldessari, Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures, New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic, 1919-1933, and in 2016 the retrospective of John McLaughlin. She was responsible for the Museum’s acquisition of the Janice and Henri Lazarof Collection of modern art which premiered at LACMA in 2008. Ms. Barron has been decorated twice by the German government, receiving the Order of Merit, First Class and the Commander’s Cross. Her exhibitions and publications have five times been voted the best in the United States by the International Art Critics Association and three times by the Art Museum Curators Association, and she has twice received the College Art Association’s distinguished Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award for best museum catalogue. Ms. Barron has lectured widely in the United States, published on a variety of subjects, served on several national, state, and city professional peer panels, and chaired the domestic Federal Indemnity Program for six years. She is a long standing member of the Art Advisory Panel of the IRS, and was elected a fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a trustee of the John Baldessari and Mike Kelley Foundations. Ms. Barron was educated at Barnard College and Columbia University.
Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Naomi Beckwith is the Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Since she joined the MCA in 2011, she has organized numerous highly acclaimed exhibitions including the group show The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now in 2015; Homebodies in 2013, and Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black and White in 2012. She also organized several monographic shows, with the artists Keren Cytter (2015), Leslie Hewitt (2014), William J. O’Brien (2013), and Jimmy Robert (2012); and an outdoor plaza project with Yinka Shonibare (2014). In June of this year, Beckwith opened an exhibition featuring The Propeller Group, an artist collective from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Prior to the MCA, Beckwith was Associate Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem and held multiple fellowships, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. She is on the Board at Art Table and was a guest curator for El Museo del Barrio biennial last year.
Chief Curator, MoMA PS1
Peter Eleey is the Chief Curator of MoMA PS1. Since joining the museum in 2010, Eleey has organized or co-organized more than 20 exhibitions, including acclaimed surveys of emerging and established artists such as Huma Bhabha, James Lee Byars, Simon Denny, Lara Favaretto, Mike Kelley, Maria Lassnig, Sturtevant and Henry Taylor; as well as debut exhibitions of Ed Atkins, Darren Bader, Matt Connors, and Esther Kläs. He has also organized large topical group exhibitions that have engaged subjects including surveillance, the September 11 terrorist attacks, and nostalgia in an evolving New York City, leading the curatorial team for the most recent edition of Greater New York. Eleey is currently co-organizing a major survey of Mark Leckey’s work that will open in October. Prior to MoMA PS1, he was Visual Arts Curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and served as a curator and producer at Creative Time, the pioneering presenter of public art in New York.
Senior Curator, The Contemporary Austin
As Senior Curator of The Contemporary Austin, Heather Pesanti has organized monographic exhibitions of Marianne Vitale, Do Ho Suh, and Robert Therrien, with forthcoming projects by Monika Sosnowska, John Bock, and Wangechi Mutu. In 2015, she organized the museum’s largest exhibition to date, Strange Pilgrims, a fourteen-artist, thematic exhibition on experiential art that engaged three venues and a catalogue in conjunction with the University of Texas Press. In 2014, Pesanti was paired with artist and critic Robert Storr as joint visiting critics in the prestigious Viewpoint speaker series at the University of Texas at Austin. Pesanti has also been guest curator for Artpace’s International Artist-in-Residence program in San Antonio, Texas, in 2011, and Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 2014. Prior to Austin, Pesanti lived in Buffalo, New York, where she was Curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery for five years. During her tenure, she organized the seminal historic exhibition Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-garde in the 1970s, a large-scale survey of Buffalo’s dynamic arts scene in the 1970s (2012). Additional projects included Robert Therrien (2013), DECADE: Contemporary Collecting: 2002–2012 (2012; co-curated), Surveyor (2011), Beyond/In Western New York: Alternating Currents (2010; co-curated), Bad Habits (2009), and a series of Artists in Depth exhibitions from the collection. She was also adjunct professor in the Visual Studies Department at the University at Buffalo. Pesanti earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and holds graduate degrees from the University of Oxford, England, and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.
Executive Director, LAXART
Hamza Walker is the Executive Director of LAXART, an independent nonprofit art space in Los Angeles presenting experimental exhibitions and public art initiatives. From 1994–2016, he was the Director of Education and Associate Curator at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, a non-collecting museum devoted to contemporary art. In 2016 he co-curated (with Aram Moshayedi) Made in L.A. at the Hammer Museum, and in 2015 he curated A Painting is a Painting isn’t a Painting at the Kadist Foundation in San Francisco. Recent projects at the Renaissance Society include Wadada Leo Smith, Ankhrasmation: The Language Scores 1967–2015, which he co-curated with John Corbett and two thematic group exhibitions, Teen Paranormal Romance (2014) and Suicide Narcissus (2013). He has contributed reviews and art criticism to numerous monographs and magazines including Parkett and Artforum. He is the recipient of the 1999 Norton Curatorial Grant and the 2004 Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement. In 2010 he was awarded the Ordway Prize for contributions to the field in the form of writing and exhibitions.
Nancy and Bob Magoon CEO and Director, Aspen Art Museum
Heidi Zuckerman is the Aspen Art Museum’s Nancy and Bob Magoon CEO and Director, overseeing all aspects of the AAM’s guiding vision and mission, administrative policies, curatorial and educational practices, strategic planning, and fundraising efforts. During her ten-year tenure with the AAM, she has secured a budget surplus every year—reinvesting instead of drawing from the endowment; fostered a 270+% increase in operational budget ($1.9M to $7M); and overseen the successful strategic planning and capital and endowment fundraising of over $75M for the construction of the AAM’s Shigeru Ban–designed facility, which opened to the public in 2014.
From 2004 to 2005, Zuckerman served as the Chair of the Art Curatorial Department at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and from 1999 to 2005, as the institution’s Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator. Prior to this, Zuckerman served as the Assistant Curator of 20th-Century Art at the Jewish Museum in New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in European History from the University of Pennsylvania; a Diploma from the Royal Society of Art, Christie’s, London; as well as a Master of Arts degree in Art History from CUNY Hunter College. She also serves as the Art Network Chair for the Young Presidents’ Organization globally.
The Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize is a biennial, unrestricted award of $100,000 to be given to an artist selected every two years, which will also include a solo exhibition and scholarly publication. An independent advisory committee comprising renowned curators and art historians will select the recipient.
The prize is funded by a generous gift to the museum by arts professional and museum trustee Suzanne Deal Booth and administered by The Contemporary Austin. In addition to the award, the prize funds a solo exhibition for the recipient, along with an accompanying publication and related public programming at The Contemporary Austin. The exhibition will be on view at the museum’s downtown venue, the Jones Center, with the option to also be shown at the museum’s outdoor site, the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria.
"The prize will create highly visible outlets for an artist to present newly conceived work to audiences from Central Texas and around the world,” said Louis Grachos, Ernest and Sarah Butler CEO and Director of the Contemporary Austin. “I know our esteemed panel of advisors will select an inaugural recipient who is deserving of increased recognition and for whom the award, exhibition, and publication will be transformative—whether they be an early-, mid-, or late-career artist."
In addition to Heather Pesanti, the museum’s Senior Curator, the Prize’s inaugural advisory committee for 2016 includes Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator and Head of Modern Art Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Naomi Beckwith, Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Peter Eleey, Chief Curator, MoMA PS1; Hamza Walker, Executive Director, LAXART; and Heidi Zuckerman, Nancy and Bob Magoon CEO and Director, Aspen Art Museum.
The Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize does not include a formal application process. The winner is selected by the independent advisory committee made up of renowned curators and art historians. Advisory committee members will each nominate artists that they identify based on their own experience, expertise, and knowledge of artists working all over the world. The full committee will then vote to select the recipient from among the artists nominated.
Founder and patron Suzanne Deal Booth has long been committed to the recognition, preservation, and conservation of visual arts and cultural heritage. Booth founded the Friends of Heritage Preservation and has served as director since its inception in 1998.
Deal Booth earned a Master of Arts in art history and conservation from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts and Conservation Center in New York City. While at Rice and NYU, she had the opportunity to work directly under the tutelage of art patron and humanist Dominique de Menil. She worked with the artist James Turrell on Skyspace at MoMA PS1 (1986) and later assisted on his retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2012, under Deal Booth’s patronage, Turrell’s permanent installation at Rice University, Twilight Epiphany, was realized. She has worked at several institutions, including les Monuments Historiques, France; the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth; the Menil Collection, Houston; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles.
Included among Deal Booth’s patronage and philanthropic efforts are serving on the boards of several arts organizations, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Menil Collection, the Centre Pompidou Foundation, Ballroom Marfa, and The Contemporary Austin. Additionally, she established the Booth Scholar in Residence at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies and the Booth Family Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, both in Rome, Italy.
Photograph of Suzanne Deal Booth by Stefanie Keenan.