Eli and Edythe
Broad Art Museum
Photo by Eat Pomegranate Photography
Photo by Eat Pomegranate Photography
The finalists for the Hopper Prize stand out for their clear conceptual underpinning and their exceptional technical execution—both of which are integral to their outstanding success at achieving their artistic visions. The works I found most compelling and thought provoking were those that mastered the complex task of translating a concept into visual form in ways that not only fulfill the artist’s intentions, but also invite us as viewers to add our own insights and experiences to the conversations prompted by the artist. Their perspectives are rich and unwavering, their approach striking and innovative, and the subject stops us, demanding that we look closely.
Each of the artists who submitted to the Hopper Prize meaningfully interprets the most pressing issues of our time, be that climate change, family relationships, patriarchy, racism, body positivity, consumerism, identity, migrant experiences, history, and more. Additionally, many of the artists are carefully, sometimes humorously, toying with imperative paradoxes that shape contemporary life: the individual and the institutional; personal and social; past and present, or present and future; self and other; memory and contemporaneity, and many more. The myriad methods employed throughout the process of realizing their work reflects the ways these artists are thinking expansively and imaginatively about the media available to them, and their capacity to propel contemporary practice into a new era.
In sum, we are reminded that neither art, history, nor our present moment are singular, but in its multiplicity and polysemy we find meaning and understanding as it is conveyed through artistic practices. I admire and applaud these artists for not only expanding the parameters of contemporary art, but for putting their full selves in their work in ways that prompt us to continue reimagining the future of curatorial and art historical praxis.
Rachel Winter is the Assistant Curator at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, and an art historian of modern and contemporary West Asia and North Africa. Winter recently curated the major exhibition Blind Spot: Stephanie Syjuco, which was supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Prior to that, she was part of the curatorial team that realized LaToya Ruby Frazier: Flint Is Family In Three Acts (2022), a collaborative, multi-site exhibition that brought the three acts of Frazier’s photographic series about the Flint water crisis to Michigan for the first time, and Zaha Hadid Design: Untold (2022), the largest retrospective of work by Zaha Hadid Design to date. She is now co-editing Samia Halaby: Centers of Energy with Elliot Josephine Leila Reichert, which will be published in spring 2024. Her future curatorial projects include Samia Halaby: Eye Witness (2024), and exhibitions featuring weaver Kayla Mattes (2024), and painter Nabil Kanso (2025); for her project focusing on Nabil Kanso, Winter was awarded the inaugural Salwa Mikdadi Research Award from the Association for Modern + Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran + Turkey.
Winter is also completing her Ph.D. in art history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation explores how art museums in the US and UK came to be interested in the idea of contemporary art from the Middle East in the 1970s. Her doctoral research was supported by grants from the Albert and Elaine Borchard European Studies Fellowship, the Decorative Arts Trust, and the Center for Craft, among others. She writes broadly about modern and contemporary art from the SWANA region, American art, and museums, and has published her research in Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art, and react/review: a responsive journal for art & architecture.