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María Elena Ortiz

Pérez Art Museum Miami

María Elena Ortiz, Curator, Pérez Art Museum Miami

© Abi Salami

Juror Statement

Congratulations to all the artists who submitted their work for The Hopper Prize 2021! I was delighted to learn about your exceptional work in this impressive set of applications.

The final selection includes artists whose work represents an energizing, timely, and poignant approach to current artistic trends and contemporary culture. The winners and finalists embody a varied group comprising different mediums, thematics, and cultural perspectives. The final winners exemplify refreshing work dealing with abstraction, identity, and collectivity. All three artists, Abi Salami, Hasani Sahlehe, and Laura Berger, share an acute ability to imbue their works with an exquisite use of colors. Given the 2020-21 protests and how the pandemic has directly affected women and people of color, Abi Salami’s commitment to beautifully celebrate Black women is captivating and powerful. Combining Abstract Expressionism with a Caribbean and urban sensibility, Hasani Sahlehe embodies a poetic and luminous approach towards abstract painting, which alludes to the pleasures of artistic contemplation. Laura Berger’s inspiring work on collective energies and narratives embodies an effective mix between high art and popular media. Together, these three artists illustrate exciting approaches towards contemporary art.

The entire artistic selection includes strong artists from different parts of the world. Their works include painting, photography, sculpture, textiles, film, installation, collage, ceramics, and new media. The thematic of the works deal with historical issues addressing colonization in the Caribbean, feminism, race, identity, and motherhood during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the selection, there are artists that take on formal questions that challenge traditional approaches towards abstraction, color, and formalism. The selection includes artists that use photography to comment on social justice and capture contemporary culture. The complex dynamics of Asian American culture is also a subject represented in the selection. Several in this grouping present colorful works that combine abstraction, figuration, and gestural painting. Collectively, the selection displays exciting work illustrating the spirit of our times.

© Laura Berger

Curator Biography

María Elena Ortiz is a Curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), where she is spearheading the Caribbean Cultural Institute (CCI). At PAMM, Ortiz has organized several projects including Allied with Power: African and African Diaspora Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection (2020); The Other Side of Now: Foresight in Contemporary Caribbean Art (2019); Latinx Art Sessions (2019); william cordova: now’s the time (2018); Beatriz Santiago Muñoz: A Universe of Fragile Mirrors (2016); Ulla von Brandenburg: It Has a Golden Sun and an Elderly Grey Moon (2017); Carlos Motta: Histories for the Future (2016); and Firelei Báez: Bloodlines (2015). Ortiz has contributed to writing platforms such as the Davidoff Art Initiative, Terremoto Magazine, and others. A recipient of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC) and Independent Curators International (ICI) Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean, Ortiz’s curatorial practice is informed by the connections between Latinx, Latin American, and Black communities in the US and the Caribbean.

© Hasani Sahlehe

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