The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts announced on Thursday that the three finalists for the 18th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Art Prize are Abigail Lucien of Baltimore; Kyrae Dawaun of Baltimore, and Nekisha Durrett of Washington, D.C.
Organized by BOPA and sponsored in part by the Maryland State Arts Council, the award is one of the most prestigious art prizes in Maryland. The winner will be announced at the Walters Art Museum in August.
The top prize is a monetary award of $30,000. The second-place finisher will get a six-week, fully-funded residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center, located in a 15th century castle in Italy. The third-place finisher will receive a residency at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower in Baltimore.
The three finalists will also have their work exhibited in the Walters Art Museum this summer and will work with museum curators on artwork selection and installation.
The finalists were selected from a larger group of applicants by a jury that consisted of scholar and curator Kelly Baum; artist and curator Devin Morris, and archivist and curator Ingrid Schaffner.
On July 22, the jurors will meet with each artist for up to 45 minutes for a final interview. After the interviews, the jurors will decide in which order the finalists finish. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony and reception at the Walters Art Museum on Aug. 10.
According to BOPA, here is a brief biography of the three finalists:
Abigail Lucien (abigaillucien.com) is a Haitian American interdisciplinary artist. Working in sculpture, literature, and time-based media, Lucien addresses themes of (be)longing, futurity, myth, and place by considering the relationships people have with inherited colonial structures and systems of belief and care. Lucien is based in Baltimore and teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Kyrae Dawaun (dawaun.com) maintains a practice centering on the human dependence on inorganic matter and nonhuman existence and explores these geological transactions as they implicate human relationships. His approach to his work is influenced by his studies, speculation, and experience around architecture, hospitality, and the “fluid and fickle nature of language.” Dawaun is based in Baltimore and teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Nekisha Durrett (nekishadurrett.com) is a mixed-media artist invested in foregrounding issues of Black life while creating a space where fantasy, imagination, and history converge. Durrett creates both large-scale and intimate installations that aim to make the ordinary enchanting, while summoning subject matter that is often underrepresented or overlooked in day-to-day life. Durrett currently lives and works in Washington, D. C.
More information about this year’s Sondheim finalists is available by visiting promotionandarts.org and following BOPA on social media (@promoandarts).