Jurying a prize is a privilege. Contemporary curators have a responsibility to encourageand amplify the work and careers of living artists. At times, that work can feel slow andindirect. But lending my viewpoint to a granting organization like the Hopper Prizeallows for immediate support, both financial and through acknowledgement. It is deeplygratifying to participate in that effort.
We have been invited to select grant winners on the basis of artistic excellence and thepromise of future potential. In looking through the collection of artist submissions, I wasimpressed by the strength in quality and diversity of backgrounds, geographies, intendedaudiences, and levels of training before me. We are, at long last, in a moment ofcollective recognition of the multifarious levels of privilege experienced and expressedby many, and the collection of Hopper Prize applicants affords an opportunity to considera cross section of voices—aesthetic, ethical, technical—that articulate the currentmoment.
When the artists submitted their works for consideration, the nation and much of theworld was in lockdown due to the detonation of the coronavirus. When reviewing thesubmissions, the pandemic of systemic racism was entering global consciousness(particularly for the white and most privileged) and righteous anger seemed as though itmight persuade change. In light of this hope, my selection was geared towards aconsideration of what is possible and relevant in our current moment: from thereinvigoration of painting, to extending the traditions of formalist sculpture, to intricatelypersonal narratives that articulate beauty, tenderness, politics, or the magical.
Leila Grothe is an Associate Curator for Contemporary Art at The Baltimore Museum of Art. Grothe was previously the Associate Curator at the Wattis Institute at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, working largely with emerging and mid-career artists such as Rosha Yaghmai, Yuki Kimura, and Melanie Gilligan. Along with her work at CCA’s Wattis Institute, Grothe has been a guest lecturer and advisor to the CCA Curatorial Practice graduate program. She has also worked as the Director for Curatorial Affairs for the 500 Capp Street Foundation, the collections manager for the Joyner/Giuffrida collection, the Assistant Director of External Affairs at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, and as a project manager for Creative Time in Dallas. Grothe has an MA in Curatorial Practice from California College of the Arts and a BA in Art History with Honors from Southern Methodist University.