Recipients of the 2014 Awards for Distinction
CAA has announced the recipients of the 2014 Awards for Distinction, which honor the outstanding achievements and accomplishments of individual artists, art historians, authors, conservators, curators, and critics whose efforts transcend their individual disciplines and contribute to the profession as a whole and to the world at large.
CAA will formally recognize the honorees at a special awards ceremony to be held during Convocation at the 102nd Annual Conference in Chicago, on Wednesday evening, February 12, 2014, 5:30–7:00 PM. Led by Anne Collins Goodyear, president of the CAA Board of Directors, the awards ceremony will take place in the Hilton Chicago’s Grand Ballroom. Convocation and the awards ceremony are free and open to the public. The Hilton Chicago is located at 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605.
The 2014 Annual Conference—presenting scholarly sessions, panel discussions, career-development workshops, art exhibitions, a Book and Trade Fair, and more—is the largest gathering of artists, scholars, students, and arts professionals in the United States.
Yvonne Rainer, Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement
Yvonne Rainer has been instrumental in the movement to merge the visual arts with dance, performance, and filmmaking. As a founder of the Judson Dance Theater (1962) and of the improvisational group Grand Union (1970), Rainer choreographed major dance works for many decades. She has also produced films that have been hailed globally, and her videos have dissolved the barriers between art forms and revealed a new unified vision of the arts. The author of four books and recipient of prestigious fellowships, Rainer was a longtime professor at the University of California, Irvine, where her prodigious talent and innovation has greatly influenced numerous generations of creative people.
John Berger, Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art
Over a career spanning some sixty years, John Berger has considered the visual image from the point of view of a painter, an art critic, a filmmaker, a novelist, a poet, and a human being, with the act of writing as central and significant to his many endeavors. His interdisciplinary approach has allowed him to expand exposition and argument into a more episodic, often lyrical form of writing that juxtaposes imagery—both photographic and drawn—with language that is clear, rooted in acute observation, and personal and passionate. Throughout his career Berger has invested himself in the idea of looking, of seeing past convention and rhetoric, to find a truth that resonates both historically and in the present, and to find words that in their analytical and storytelling cogency refuse subservience to the power of images. Radical in his politics, he has always stressed that art and writing are about relationships, that in their workings they illuminate how we connect with one another and with the world.
Kay Rosen, Artist Award for Distinguished Body of Work
Kay Rosen uses words and letters to examine the ways in which language structures knowledge—particularly an awareness of self and place. She first gained prominence in the 1980s alongside more pointedly feminist artists such as Nancy Dwyer, Jenny Holzer, and Barbara Kruger, all of whom used language to address issues of gender and power. Rosen’s art, however, is less concerned with enlisting words as a tool for political messaging than with demonstrating what language can do on its own, through its structure and letters, which the artist thinks of as “body parts.” For Rosen, language can subvert verbal systems of power and offer alternative ways of reading and constructing meaning without being filtered through the intentional voice of the artist. In her work, as seen in her recent exhibition Kay Rosen at Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia (June 28–November 3, 2013), viewers encounter language as an object to be seen as well as a text to be read—at once, a page, a sign, an object, and a painting.
Margaretta M. Lovell and W. J. T. Mitchell, Distinguished Teaching of Art History Award
Margaretta M. Lovell is the Jay D. McEvoy Professor of the History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has worked since 1981. In addition to her great accomplishments as a scholar of American art, Lovell has taught and mentored generations of students who are full of praise for her extraordinary selflessness, generosity, and dedication. Her creativity and imagination as a teacher and scholar are well matched by her open-minded approach to intellectual and professional issues, free of the binding orthodoxies of theory and political cant, which is regarded as a most welcome breath of fresh air. Lovell deals with students and colleagues with a sense of humanity and idealism, but her approach to mentoring is guided equally by firm grasp of the realities that young people face when moving forward in the field, which she has addressed through myriad imaginative solutions, including an innovative pedagogy seminar that has become her trademark.
W. J. T. Mitchell is not only a distinguished voice in contemporary discourse on the history and theory of art, but he is also a beloved teacher at the University of Chicago, where he is Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History. His students praise him for the openness of intellectual inquiry that he nurtures both in and outside the classroom. Many speak of the lasting impact that a simple teaching device of his had on them, called a “show and tell” (a short critical analysis of a manmade object from our daily life), in which the forms of critical thinking come alive as exploratory and experimental process. Mitchell’s classes transcend disciplinary singularity, shining forth with an ecumenical approach to learning that makes the study of images accessible to students in many fields. Unpretentious and deeply humane, Mitchell has carried forward his genuine and inspirational spirit of inquiry and love of knowledge to his students across the spectrum of art history and visual culture.
Reni Gower, Distinguished Teaching of Art Award
Reni Gower is a professor of art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where she has taught since 1981. Her dedicated instruction in painting includes complex material processes and innovative approaches and safe practices with encaustic that are widely disseminated through her instructional website and videos. Gower has also been a sought-after leader and national authority in professional practices; her Senior Seminar course has been widely modeled at other institutions. In addition, Gower has maintained a rich art career and developed an extensive body of work with an exemplary exhibition record of sustained quality. Her students and colleagues speak highly and enthusiastically of her influence in the classroom, where she challenges her students to push beyond familiar solutions and be open to experimenting with new technologies and formats.
Lorraine O’Grady, Distinguished Feminist Award
CAA recognizes Lorraine O’Grady for her considerable and important service to the feminist art community, especially in her determined efforts to underscore discrimination and bias through her performance art, photo-based work, writing, teaching, and activism. O’Grady has worked to expand the political content of art, persistently returning to a complicated place that she describes as “where the personal intersects with the historic and cultural.” As part of a small group of women of color in the Women’s Action Coalition, she has used this platform to accentuate the involvement of black women artists in contemporary culture and the perpetual disregard for their contributions. Essays such as “Olympia’s Maid: Reclaiming Black Female Subjectivity” (1992) demonstrate her powerful voice in robustly considering the disinterest in the black female. In the 1990s O’Grady turned to the visual investigations of miscegenation, and in the last decade her art has continued to challenge the marginalization of racially and socioeconomically hybridized artists.
Yukio Lippit, Charles Rufus Morey Book Award
In Painting of the Realm: The Kano House of Painters in 17th-Century Japan (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012), Yukio Lippit pursues three questions: What is the nature of artistic production before the advent of the category of art? What was the status of the artist as a social entity and discursive category prior to the transplantation of the European concept of the artist in the late nineteenth century? And what constitutes the “Japaneseness” of painting prior to the consolidation of the nation-state? Focusing on the Kano House of painters over the course of the seventeenth century, Lippit develops answers to these questions by eschewing more conventional methodological approaches and exploring instead a sequence of strategies employed by artists within the Kano House, or operating in tension with it, that helped to formalize a canon for painting conceived as a discrete field of practice with an identifiable national character.
Jeff L. Rosenheim, Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award
Jeff L. Rosenheim’s catalogue for the exhibition Photography and the American Civil War (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013) is not only a major contribution to American art history, but also an equally important addition to Civil War studies and to the historiography of the United States in general. While Rosenheim clearly explains the technical aspects of photographic processes and convincingly addresses the formal and aesthetic contributions of photography to art history, he also tells a fascinating story about how photography developed as a viable art form in this country. Matching the breadth and quality of the magisterial exhibition, the catalogue masterfully chronicles the Civil War itself, seen, literally, through the eyes of the photographers and presented in the guise of the people who experienced it directly, including those who did not survive it.
Peter C. Sturman and Susan S. Tai, Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award for Smaller Museums, Libraries, Collections, and Exhibitions
Peter C. Sturman and Susan S. Tai’s exhibition catalogue The Artful Recluse: Painting, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century China (Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Barbara Museum of Art; New York: Delmonico/Prestel, 2012) presents a probing study of how the painting, calligraphy, and poetry of the “artist recluse” intersected during the Ming-Qing Cataclysm. Entering the seemingly inaccessible physical and mental worlds of the mountain hermit and mist-covered huts of the recluse, The Artful Recluse dispels the notion that such material is inherently obscure and impenetrable to all but the learned scholar. Sturman, Tai, and other contributing authors step beyond well-worn notions of the timeless qualities of this figure in Chinese art and press deep into the tumultuous social, historic, and political context of the Ming-Qing era, revealing in particular the contradictions of artists who disengage from a world that they recognized was in rapid change while engaging it directly with their art and inviting others of a similar reclusive mindset to respond and engage.
Sascha Scott, Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize
Sascha Scott’s article “Awa Tsireh and the Art of Subtle Resistance,” published in the December 2013 issue of The Art Bulletin, ambitiously walks a fine line between the demands of scholarship and the ethics of exploitation. Using the example of Awa Tsireh’s work from the early twentieth century, Scott shows that Pueblo paintings promoted and displayed by Anglos as authentically Native American in fact withheld cultural knowledge, while also offering a new framework for the study of modern Pueblo paintings that restores agency to the artists who made them. In addition, the author elucidates the balance Awa Tsireh found between two philosophical systems of knowledge—an Anglo one that seeks to share knowledge versus a Native American one that aims to control it—and convincingly identifies the artistic methods of evasion, misdirection, coding, and masking as subtly resisting Anglo regimes.
T. J. Demos, Frank Jewett Mather Award
T. J. Demos’s The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary during Global Crisis (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013) eloquently analyzes contemporary art that engages the current political reality of continual humanitarian crises while maintaining an open-ended appeal to the imagination. Writing politically and polemically, he offers well-articulated studies of works by artists such as Ursula Biemann, Emily Jacir, Lamia Joreige, Steve McQueen, the Otolith Group, Ahlam Shibli, and Hito Steyerl that take us deep into a South African gold mine, Palestinian refugee camps, Guantanamo Bay, Beirut, Baghdad, Gujarat, and the Sahara, and along other political, economic, and artistic borders. Through a series of incisive readings Demos builds a compelling case for the significance of current artistic practices that employ nontraditional documentary strategies (for which he identifies appropriate precedents) to “construct imaginative possibilities that await potential realization … to mobilize energy that will help bring about reinvented possibilities.”
Glenn Wharton, CAA/Heritage Preservation Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation
The work of Glenn Wharton, an outstanding archaeological conservator, a sensitive conservator of outdoor sculpture, and a leader in the conservation of contemporary art and time-based art, has brought about a major shift in the ethics and approaches to his discipline. After serving as editor of the journal Field Notes: Practical Guides for Archaeological Conservation and Site Preservation, he devoted almost three years of research for the conservation of the monumental painted brass statue of King Kamehameha I in Honolulu, conducting the treatment as a public event in which community input influenced technical decisions. The project became the subject of Wharton’s PhD dissertation and a well-received monograph, and his subsequent publications and lectures on the treatment of the Kamehameha monument have changed the way conservators preserve sensitive cultural objects. In 2006, he took up two positions: one as conservator for time-based art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the second as a faculty member in New York University’s museum-studies program. In that same year he founded the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art – North America and served as its executive director until 2010. Wharton’s career has been distinguished by unceasing growth and commitment to thoroughness, as demonstrated in his rigorous publications, in the dissemination of his work, and, perhaps most important, in his exceptional generosity and dedication to teaching.
Jeanne Dunning, Art Journal Award
Jeanne Dunning’s “Tom Thumb, the New Oedipus,” published in the Winter 2013 issue of Art Journal, creatively and cleverly melds aspects of narrative storytelling, visual research, and textual analysis to cast new light on the enduring value of psychoanalytic models through a close reading of the folk-tale character Tom Thumb. It does so with humor and clarity, and is at once a pleasure to read and a careful prod to the imagination. The pairing of the text with the veritable archive of Tom Thumb imagery supports and illustrates the artist’s thesis; it also encourages the reader to creatively speculate about the place and importance of the visual details within these images. In this, the piece provides an excellent model of the best artist projects imaginable for a print publication.
Morey and Barr Award Finalists
CAA recognizes the 2014 finalists for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award and the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award for their distinctive achievements:
- Jacqueline E. Jung, The Gothic Screen: Space, Sculpture, and Community in the Cathedrals of France and Germany, ca. 1200–1400 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013)
- Joan Kee, Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013)
- Cynthia Robinson, Imagining the Passion in a Multiconfessional Castile: The Virgin, Christ, Devotions, and Images in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013)
- Jean-Louis Cohen, Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2013)
Barr Award for Smaller Museums, Libraries, Collections, and Exhibitions Finalist
- Colin G. Calloway, ed., Ledger Narratives: The Plains Indian Drawings of the Lansburgh Collection at Dartmouth College (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, in cooperation with the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2012)
Published on January 13, 2014; revised on January 14, 2014.