MIT List Visual Arts Center
Photo by Nancy Dayanne Valladares
Photo by Nancy Dayanne Valladares
It is an honor to jury a prize that offers unrestricted funds to artists. This mission feels especially important at a moment when the precarity that most artists and art workers face has been heightened to extremes by an ongoing global pandemic. Amidst the bleak challenges, loss, moments of outrage, and a reckoning with the inequities of political, legal, and institutional structures built on colonial and white supremacist foundations, I have found myself in awe of the resiliency, generosity, and vision I have witnessed from artists. The recipients of this season’s Hopper Prizes, all of whom have made meaningful work throughout this period, are no exception.
As a curator of contemporary art, it is my great privilege to learn and think alongside living artists and to support their visions and work, particularly at decisive moments in their practices. The intergenerational cohort of artists I selected for the prize share an interest in trans-disciplinary methods, engaging symbolically-laden materials or iconography, and an appreciation for the related processes of transformation, transcendence, and reclamation. Abigail Lucien’s sculptures re-cast building materials and architectural styles common in the Global South into surprising forms that reflect on embodied memories impacted by colonialism, assimilation, and multi-cultural identity. Cielo Felix-Hernandez’s boldly-styled paintings also address the insidious reach of colonization into the present, calling on Queer and Caribbean/Boricua visual tropes to render figures engaged in acts of joyous sexuality, self-care and self-actualization. The formal elegance of Jennifer Sirey’s sculptures belie the aliveness and unruly interdependence of the bacterial ecosystems they contain. Through varied methods and media, all three artists make objects and images that speak to pressing concerns of this moment, and offer wisdom for a path forward.
The Hopper Prize asks its jurors to make their sections based on the quality of artistic work evidenced in each portfolio. Naming only three prize recipients was a challenge. Throughout the review process I was impressed by the strength of the submissions—the varied perspectives, materials, and approaches the works evinced—and offer my gratitude to all the artists who shared their work.
Selby Nimrod is Assistant Curator at the MIT List Visual Arts Center. Since joining the List Center in 2018, she has organized exhibitions with Rami George, Cindy Ji Hye Kim, and the traveling presentation of Nayland Blake’s major survey, No Wrong Holes: Thirty Years of Nayland Blake, and assisted on solo presentations of the work of Ericka Beckman, Christine Sun Kim, Alicja Kwade, and Farah Al Qasimi, among others. Currently, Selby is working with Andrew Norman Wilson and Sharona Franklin on forthcoming solo presentations. Previously, she held positions at SculptureCenter, New York, and Site Projects, New Haven. She has organized group exhibitions, screenings, and performances at institutions including the International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York; the Kitchen, New York; Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; Seton Gallery at the University of New Haven; and a swimsuit factory, among others. Her writing has appeared in Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles, AQNB, and Big Red & Shiny as well as in several journals and catalogues, including the recently published monograph on Ericka Beckman from Hirmer Verlag. She earned an undergraduate degree in Art History from the University of St Andrews, Scotland and an MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. Selby is the recipient of a 2020 Étant donnés Curatorial Research Fellowship from the French American Cultural Exchange.