The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts announced yesterday the finalists for the seventh annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.  The six finalists are Lisa Dillin, Jonathan Duff, Hasan Elahi, Matthew Janson, John McNeil and Renee Stout.  The Sondheim Prize has increased this year to $30,000 and  M&T Bank has established for the first time the M&T Bank Sondheim Finalists’ Awards, to give $2,500 each to the remaining finalists not selected for the fellowship.

The finalists’ and semifinalists’ exhibitions will be presented at the The Baltimore Museum of Art and Maryland Institute College of Art.  The BMA finalist exhibition is scheduled for June 16 – July 29, and the MICA semifinalist exhibition will be held July 20 – August 5, 2012

The Sondheim Award winner will be announced  July 14, 2012 at 7 p.m. at the BMA.

The 31st Annual Artscape will be held July 20-22, 2012

See more about the finalists at the jump.

Lisa Dillin was born in Silver Spring, MD, raised in the Annapolis area and is currently based in Baltimore. Dillin’s interdisciplinary work, which extends from her interest in the psychology of the contemporary individual contrasted with that of the primitive one, will be featured in an upcoming solo exhibition at the Flashpoint gallery in Washington, D.C. Dillin received a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2006 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Atlanta College of Art in the areas of photography and sculpture in 1998. She is currently an adjunct faculty member at the Corcoran College of Art + Design and American University in Washington, D.C. Her work has been exhibited at various other venues throughout the U.S., including the Washington Project for the Arts in Washington, D.C., Artspace in New Haven, CT, NUTUREart in Brooklyn, NY, Flux Factory in Long Island City, NY, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, MI.  Dillin was also a semi-finalist for The Trawick Prize in 2011.

Jonathan Duff graduated from the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2008; thereafter, he began exhibiting his sculptures and paintings throughout Minneapolis, including shows at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Minnesota Center for Photography, and the 1419 gallery – of which he was a founder. Since arriving in Baltimore, Duff has exhibited at City Arts in Baltimore and Scope in Miami, Fl. He is a 2011 alumni of the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, and will be receiving his master’s degree in fine arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Mount Royal School of Art in May.

Hasan Elahi is associate professor of art and director of the Digital Cultures and Creativity program at the University of Maryland Honors College. He is an interdisciplinary artist whose work examines issues of surveillance, citizenship, immigration, transport, and borders and frontiers. His work has been presented in numerous exhibitions at venues such as SITE Santa Fe, Centre Georges Pompidou, Sundance Film Festival, Kassel KulturBahnhof and at the Venice Biennale. Elahi recently was invited to speak about his work at the Tate Modern, TED Global, the Einstein Forum and at the American Association of Artificial Intelligence. His work has been supported with grants and sponsorships from the Creative Capital Foundation and the Ford Foundation/Philip Morris. His work is frequently in the media and has been covered by The New York Times, Forbes, Wired,CNN, ABC, CBS, NPR, Al Jazeera, Fox, and he has also appeared on “The Colbert Report.” In 2010, he was an Alpert/MacDowell Fellow and in 2009, he was Resident Faculty and Nancy G. MacGrath Endowed Chair at Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. He lives just outside of Washington, D.C., roughly equidistant from the CIA, FBI, and NSA headquarters.

Matthew Janson creates mixed media sculptures that he describes as “an up-close, colorful, detailed, opened and closed and multiplied menu of the body,” while also being “tombstones for a cemetery that has turned carnival.”  His work has been included in exhibitions at various venues across the region, including The Baltimore Museum of Art as a finalist for the 2010 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize, the Subbasement Gallery, the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts and Baltimore’s Theatre Project.  He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, MN in 2005, where he later held positions as assistant gallery director and sculpture technician.  In 2009, he received a Master of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he was a student in the Mount Royal School of Art.

John McNeil was born and raised in Maine where he attended the Maine Photographic Workshops, before attending the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA. McNeil received his master’s degree in fine arts in photographic and electronic media from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2011. His photographs function as investigations into spaces and objects, most found abandoned by McNeil, and the stories that they tell.  He has exhibited extensively in both the Baltimore and Portland, ME areas, including several exhibitions at MICA in Baltimore and the SPACE Gallery and the Front Room Gallery in Portland, ME. Now based in Baltimore, McNeil is currently among the Photography Department Faculty at MICA.

Renee Stout grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University in 1980. Originally trained as a painter, she moved to Washington, D.C. in 1985 where she began to explore the spiritual roots of her African-American heritage through her work. Inspired by the African Diaspora, as well as her immediate environment and current events, she employs a variety of media, including painting, drawing, mixed media sculpture, photography and installation in an attempt to create works that encourage self-examination, introspection and the ability to laugh at ourselves and the absurdities of life. Her vast exhibition history includes solo shows at Hemphill Fine Arts in Washington, D.C.; The Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, LA; David Beitzel Gallery in New York, NY and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Pittsburgh, PA.  She has also been included in group exhibitions at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA;  The Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, MD; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA;  and Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; among several others.  She has been the recipient of awards from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Bader Fund, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation and the High Museum’s Driskell Prize.

The 2012 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is made possible through the generous support of The Abell Foundation. The M&T Bank Sondheim Finalist Prizes are made possible by The M&T Charitable Foundation.  Sondheim Endowment support is provided by Alex. Brown Charitable Foundation, Charlesmead Foundation, Ellen Dankert, France-Merrick Foundation, Willard Hackerman, Hecht-Levi Foundation, Legg Mason, The Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, John Sondheim and an anonymous donor.

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