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Nari Ward Wins $100,000 Vilcek Prize for Immigrant Artists

Iman Issa, Meleko Mokgosi, and Carlos Motta awarded Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise

Nari Ward, We the People, 2011, shoelaces. COURTESY LEHMANN MAUPIN AND THE FABRIC WORKSHOP AND MUSEUM

Nari Ward, We the People, 2011, shoelaces.

COMMISSION: THE FABRIC WORKSHOP AND MUSEUM/COURTESY LEHMANN MAUPIN/SPEED ART MUSEUM, GIFT OF THE SPEED CONTEMPORARY, 2016

The Vilcek Foundation in New York announced the winners of its 2017 Vilcek Prizes for the Arts today. Given annually to immigrant artists, the awards come with cash prizes. Of the four artists who have won this year’s prizes, Nari Ward has been given the foundation’s highest honor, which comes with $100,000.

Ward is currently the subject of a traveling retrospective organized by the Pérez Art Museum Miami that will make a stop at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in April. The Jamaica-born, New York–based artist’s work ruminates on the immigrant experience, often juxtaposing his own heritage with Americana and exploring the differences between the two.

The foundation also named three winners of its Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise, which is awarded to emerging immigrant artists. The 2017 prizes of these prizes are Iman Issa, Meleko Mokgosi, and Carlos Motta.

“These immigrant artists are explorers and philosophers,” said Marica Vilcek, the vice chairman of the Vilcek Foundation, said in a statement. “They seek answers to questions about the nature of power, politics, and the relationship between the individual and the collective, and they do so with originality, imagination, and a strong sense of justice.”

Ward was selected by a jury that included Prospect New Orleans executive director Brooke Davis Anderson, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery director Deborah Cullen, artist Coco Fusco, New Museum artistic director Massimiliano Gioni, MIT List Visual Art Center director Paul C. Ha, and Guggenheim Museum curator Sara Raza.

The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise winners were chosen by Public Art Fund director Nicholas Baume, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago curator Naomi Beckwith, Los Angeles County Museum of Art associate curator Rita Gonzalez, Queens Museum director of exhibitions Hitomi Iwasaki, and Museum of Modern Art associate curator Thomas J. Lax.

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