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The Burke Prize

The Burke Prize

The Burke Prize

October/November 2018 issue of American Craft magazine
Holland Houdek work 1

Holland Houdek's metalwork evokes medical implants.

Tom Burazin

Actors have the Oscars, Emmys, and Tonys; writers and composers, the Pulitzers. And as of this year, young craft artists have the Burke Prize. The Museum of Arts and Design announced the annual $50,000 prize last fall, seeking US artists under the age of 45 who demonstrate excellence in clay, glass, metal, fiber, wood, or mixes thereof.

The winner will be announced at MAD Ball, the museum’s annual fundraising gala, on November 6 in New York City.

The exceptional group of applicants was “truly a testament to the vitality of today’s studio practices,” says MAD chief curator Shannon R. Stratton.

Jurors pared down the list to 16 finalists, weighing both artistic mastery and innovation; the more than 30 pieces in this show of their work comprise a snapshot of forward-looking craft today.

Among the works on view: an automaton by Brittany Nicole Cox, a chair-cabinet mash-up by Ted Lott, metalwork evoking medical implants by Holland Houdek, and ceramic vessels by Roberto Lugo bearing the images of Colin Kaepernick and Kendrick Lamar. Some artists incorporate cutting-edge technology into their work; some make piercing social commentary. All employ traditional craft mediums, as well as some decidedly untraditional ones such as motion detectors, to explore personal or political themes in fresh and unexpected ways.

“Craft’s unique abilities to protest, tell stories, and connect deeply with people inside and outside of the museum will only continue to grow,” Stratton predicts.

The Burke Prize, made possible by longtime MAD supporters Marian and Russell Burke, honors the museum’s roots – MAD began in 1956 as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts. By endowing the prize for years to come, the Burkes hope to shine a light on the museum’s core missions of celebrating the hands-on creative process and supporting next-generation artistic excellence.

Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy, who co-curated the show with Samantha De Tillio, says that since the Burkes made their generous gift, putting their vision into action has been a bit of a whirlwind. But the award’s first year has exceeded expectations. “We know with certainty that craft is alive and well,” she says. “We hope viewers will feel excited by the work and inspired to consider what the future of craft means to them.” The exhibition runs concurrently with “MAD Collects: The Future of Craft Part I,” which considers recent acquisitions in the context of the museum’s collecting history. 

Congrats to the 2018 Burke Prize finalists:

Tanya Aguiñiga, Los Angeles; Leonardo Benzant, Richmond Hill, NY; Brittany Nicole Cox, Seattle; Annie Evelyn, Penland, NC; Josh Faught, San Francisco; Holland Houdek, Rochester, NY; Merritt Johnson, Sitka, AK; Heidi Lau, New York City; Ted Lott, Coopers-town, NY; Cannupa Hanska Luger, Glorieta, NM; Roberto Lugo, Elkins Park, PA; Anna Mlasowsky, Seattle; Jordan Nassar, New York City; William J. O’Brien, Chicago; Ibrahim Said, Greensboro, NC; Olivia Valentine, Des Moines, IA

The 2018 jurors, led by MAD chief curator Shannon R. Stratton, were textile artist and ACC director of education Michael Radyk; author, scholar, and educator Jenni Sorkin; and educator and Critical Craft Forum director Namita Gupta Wiggers.