Vanessa German and Cauleen Smith win one of the biggest art prizes in the world, $250,000 at the Heinz Art Awards –

Artists Vanessa German and Cauleen Smith have won one of the world’s greatest art prizes, the Heinz Award for the Arts. Each will now win $250,000.

the German often creates sculptures adorned with beads, fabrics, cowries, glass, etc. Often these works are meant to serve a restorative purpose and seem imbued with ritual power. Past work has involved creating shrine-like spaces for victims of racially charged killings by police, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

On view now at the Kasmin gallery in New York, an exhibition by the German includes a new body of work in this vein. According to the artist, they are inspired by West African folk art and the black arts movement of the 1960s.

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Teresa Heinz, President of the Heinz Family Foundation, said in a statement, “Vanessa’s bold and empowering sculptures, as well as her community programs, clearly reflect this spirit, demonstrating not only a commitment to artistic excellence, but also towards work. which immerses viewers in an experience that is both confronting and healing.

Smith is widely regarded as a key experimental filmmaker, and in recent years has received widespread recognition in the American art world. She has also made installations and sculptural pieces, some of which were featured in a recent exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. A restoration of his 1998 feature film Drylongso will debut at the New York Film Festival in October.

Often, Smith envisions alternate futures in his work; Black communities are often at the center of these. She draws on Third Cinema and science fiction as points of reference, interweaving her films and installations with allusions to other works.

“One of the most acclaimed black experimental filmmakers of our time, Cauleen creates profound, imaginative experiences that shine a light on the issues and conditions in society that urgently need change,” Heinz said in a statement.

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