I was honored to serve as a juror for the prestigious Hopper Prize for its spring cycle. Presenting work across all media including sculpture, photography, land art, textile, and ceramic, this pool of applicants was exceptional in their talent. It was an enormous privilege to learn more about each artist and their respective practices.
When reviewing the applications, I looked for consistency throughout their work, a command of their chosen medium, and a strong artist statement. These criteria led to my selections of Allison L. Wade as the $3,500 grantee and Krystle Lemonias and Ville Kansenen as the $1,000 grantees.
Allison L. Wade’s sculptures are composed of unexpected material juxtapositions that explore the idea of form. Pulling from her background in English Literature, the artist compares her creative process to syntax as she groups works together like she would assemble sentences and paragraphs. With a refined visual language, Wade challenges different materialities in a manner that feels fresh and wholly unique. Krystle Lemonias’s practice investigates domestic work, specifically childcare, and the black and brown communities who uphold this vital part of the economy and community. Repurposing clothing from both her family and the families her mother looked after as a caregiver, Lemonias expertly weaves together intricate tapestries that challenge the stereotype of the mammy and empower the essential role of domestic laborers. I was impressed by her narrative capabilities and her skilled textile work. Ville Kansenen creates large-scale sculptures that intervene with the surrounding desert landscape as a way to communicate directly with the land and to recall ancient belief systems. Utilizing photography to capture his outdoor installations, Kansenen says he purposefully selected a truth-telling medium to render his myth-making land art. His multidisciplinary practice is aesthetically and conceptually stunning. All three artists are storytellers, albeit with very different messages, and I found all their practices inspiring, thought-provoking, and responsive to the current times.
The fifteen shortlisted artists also showed immense skill and generosity in their work. I look forward to following them, as well as the awardees, as their careers progress. Congratulations to all!
Emily Edwards is the Assistant Curator at Dallas Contemporary. While there, she has curated solo exhibitions of artists Eduardo Sarabia, Gabrielle Goliath, Natalie Wadlington, Shilpa Gupta, Ariel Rene Jackson, and Margarita Cabrera and assisted over thirty exhibitions. She is currently working on presentations of artists Bianca Bondi and Chloe Chiasson. Prior to Dallas, she worked at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Her research interests include memorialization, diasporic art, and sociopolitical commentary. She graduated with a BFA with Honors in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin and an MA in Art History and Museum Studies from Georgetown University.