The Studio Museum in Harlem announced at its fall gala this evening that the Joyce Alexandar Wein Artist Prize has been awarded to Los Angeles–based artist Diedrick Brackens. The award comes with $50,000 in unrestricted funds.
Brackens is best known for his tapestries and textile sculptures that range from pieces with abstracted images to narrative scenes that depict black figures in silhouettes, all accompanied with lyrical titles, such as not every passage/position is comfortable and wading still (bend, bow, pull). Many of the tapestries, including those in his ongoing “bandage” series, are constructed in multiple pieces that are stitched together, adding a sense of fracture to the overall tone of the works.
Brackens’s art explores the intersections of cultural histories and traumas in the U.S., particularly as they relate to various weaving traditions and his own position as a queer man of color taking up a craft traditionally regarded as “women’s work.” His work was included in the recent “Made in LA: 2018” biennial at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and two of his pieces are part of the recent bequest by Peggy Cooper Cafritz to the Studio Museum.
Established by George Wein in memory of his wife Joyce Alexandar Wein, a longtime trustee of the Studio Museum who passed away in 2005, the Wein Prize is awarded annually to an African-American artist who “demonstrates great innovation, promise, and creativity.” Previous winners include Lorna Simpson, Glenn Ligon, Leslie Hewitt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Simone Leigh.