I am always honored to jury a prize. I am thankful to the Hopper Prize for the honor and also for creating such a wonderful platform for contemporary artists. As a juror I enjoy engaging with work that is new to me as well as finding connections between work I know well. I am also rejuvenated and excited by the chance to see a diverse group of artists’ work and to find connections between them. I find having opportunities like jurying the Hopper Prize to be a truly rewarding part of my job.
Overall I was thoroughly impressed by the magnitude and thoughtfulness of each submission. Important conversations were made by all artists: conversations about representation, identity, social change, and the COVID-19 pandemic really highlighted a shared experience.
The artists I selected focused on areas of connectedness between people and environment. Many also looked to everyday life and contemplated the global pandemic. Through the lens of artists, the works highlighted in this selection show the stories of immigrants, the experiences of self-identification, contemplating human’s relationship to nature, connection between family members both living and deceased, ties to collective histories of monumental events, ideas of labor and its representation, and time spent contemplating the world around us. Using a large variety of different media, these artists have documented history and have asked important questions about humanities role and how to create a more cohesive and connected future. With this in mind, I have selected artists Akihiro Boujoh and Yannick Lowery as Hopper Prize winners. Their works exemplify our interconnectedness with nature and our surroundings as well as our relationship to history and collective memory, respectively.
Jade Powers is the assistant curator at Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri where she has organized exhibitions including Deconstructing Marcus Jansen, Abstracted Wonders: The Power of Lines, Color Application, and Child’s Play: An Exploration of Adolescence. Upcoming projects at the Kemper Museum include Atrium Project: Joiri Minaya and Dawoud Bey: Selections from Night Coming Tenderly, Black. Before joining the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Powers was the 2017-2018 Romare Bearden Graduate Museum Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum. There, Powers created the first museum-wide gallery guide to comprehensively highlight works by artists of African descent and began research for the 2019 exhibition, Shape of Abstraction, showcasing a gift of over 80 abstract works by African American artists. Powers has also been a Visiting Critic at Washington University St. Louis, University of Kansas, and the Kansas City Art Institute as well as a juror for several artist awards.