Skip Navigation

Programs » Awards for Distinction

Distinguished Feminist Awards

CAA presents two annual Distinguished Feminist Awards: one presented to a visual artist or designer who, through outstanding efforts in their practice or advocacy, has advanced the cause of equality for women in the arts; one presented to a scholar who, through outstanding efforts in their scholarship, curatorial practice, or advocacy, has advanced the cause of equality for women in the arts. This award was established in 2007 to honor a person who, through their art, scholarship, or advocacy, has advanced the cause of equality for women in the arts. From 1996 to 2008, this award was presented as an Annual Recognition Award by CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts (CWA) at a ceremony at the Annual Conference.

2021 WINNERS

Distinguished Feminist Award—Artist  

Simone Leigh  

Simone Leigh is an American artist whose work spans sculpture, installation, performance, and video. Her work takes up the mantle of Black feminist practice, bringing to light the art of what has been figured throughout history as the anti-type of Western art, the Black female body. Leigh’s work “converts history into memory,” as Walter Benn Michaels wrote; it argues for the presence of the ancestors in figures like Esmin Elizabeth Green, who died in a hospital waiting room after waiting with a blood clot for twenty-four hours. It evokes the unseen figures about whom writers like Saidiya Hartman conclude: “the distinction between the past and the present founders on the interminable grief engendered by slavery and its aftermath.” Leigh’s work engages with historically feminist medicine that lay outside of Western medical tradition’s artificial division between nature and technology, such as through the establishment of the “Free People’s Medical Clinic,” a holistic artistic approach that allegorically and functionally sustains community health. Leigh is the recipient of many awards, including the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Award, the Creative Capital Grant, the Hugo Boss Prize, and the Joan Mitchell Award.  
 

Distinguished Feminist Award—Scholar  

Katy Deepwell 

Katy Deepwell is a British art historian who founded the groundbreaking journal n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal in 1998. The journal has had an immense influence in the art world and the visibility of women artists and scholars; it was included in the Documenta 12 magazines project in 2007. The inaugural issue of n.paradoxa featured an article by Deepwell, “Feminist Aesthetics in an International Frame,” which introduced readers to the ever-vexing issue of whether feminism is an aesthetic, as well as continuing critical conversations about whether feminism is global. The journal has been steadfast in its coverage of artists and art from around the world—often featuring Black and Asian artists in whole issues dedicated to their work—as well as women who work in new media and tech art. She published n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal for 20 years and that it finished in 2017 with volume 40 with the Feminist Art Observatory at KT Press. An artist herself, Deepwell has been a professor of art history and criticism for seven years and has been teaching for 25 years in UK and Europe. Deepwell has published ten books and written three of her own; all are on topics of women artists and feminist criticism. Her writing spans decades and continents; it questions the various ways that the centrality of male voices still shape modernism and postmodernism. In a recent article (2020), Deepwell argues convincingly that “feminists were and are the only ones writing repeatedly and in any depth about women artists and have been promoting and publishing discussion of their work since the 1970s.” And similarly, “It has only been feminists who have tried to analyze how sex discrimination affects the position of women artists in gallery and museum representation and highlight the selection processes in exhibitions by both male and female curators.”   

Jury: Delinda J. Collier, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Arnold Joseph Kemp, School of the Art Institute of ChicagoRobin Cass, Rochester Institute of Technologyand Elizabeth DuffyRoger Williams University. 

PAST WINNERS

Since 2009, the Distinguished Feminist Award has honored such influential leaders in the visual arts field as Griselda Pollock, Faith Ringgold, Lucy R. Lippard, and many more. For past winners of the CWA Annual Recognition Awards, scroll down further.

2020 Senga Nengudi — Visual Artist  
2020 Maud K. Lavin — Scholar 
 
Jury: Janet Goldner, Independent Artist, co-chair; Arnold Joseph Kemp, School of the Art Institute of Chicago co-chair; Robin Cass, Rochester Institute of Technology; and Elizabeth Duffy, Roger Williams University.  

2019 Senga Nengudi — Visual Artist 
2019 Anna C. Chave — Scholar
 
Jury: Janet Goldner, independent artist, New York City, cochair; Arnold Joseph Kemp, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, cochair; Elizabeth Duffy, independent artist, New York City; Jeannene Przyblyski, California Institute of the Arts 

2018 Lynn Hershman Leeson — Visual Artist
2018 Lowery Stokes Sims — Scholar
Jury: Claudia Sbrissa, St. John’s University, chair; Janet Goldner, independent, New York City; Arnold Joseph Kemp, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and Jeannene Przyblyski, California Institute of the Arts.

2017 Joan Marter
Jury: Hilary Robinson, Middlesex University, chair; Claudia Sbrissa, St. John’s University; and Kathleen Wentrack, Queensborough Community College, The City University of New York.

2016 Carrie Mae Weems
Jury: Hilary Robinson, Middlesex University, chair; Claudia Sbrissa, St. John’s University; and Kathleen Wentrack, Queensborough Community College, City University of New York

2015 Amelia Jones
Jury: Maria Elena Buszek, University of Colorado, Denver, chair; Hilary Robinson, Middlesex University; and Kathleen Wentrack, Queensborough Community College, City University of New York.

2014 Lorraine O’Grady
Jury: Anne Swartz, Savannah College of Art and Design, chair; Julia Bryan-Wilson, University of California, Berkeley; and Maria Elena Buszek, University of Colorado, Denver

Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold (photograph by Grace Matthews)

2013 Harmony Hammond and Martha Rosler
Jury: Anne Swartz, Savannah College of Art and Design, chair; Julia Bryan-Wilson, University of California, Berkeley; and Maria Elena Buszek, University of Colorado, Denver

2012 Lucy R. Lippard
Jury: Frima Fox Hofrichter, Pratt Institute, chair; Julia Bryan-Wilson, University of California, Berkeley; and Anne Swartz, Savannah College of Art and Design

2011 Faith Ringgold
Jury: Lowery Stokes Sims, Museum of Arts and Design, chair; Frima Fox Hofrichter, Pratt Institute; and Moira Roth, Mills College

2010 Griselda Pollock
Jury: Lowery Stokes Sims, Museum of Arts and Design, chair; Diane Burko, professor emerita, Philadelphia Community College; and Moira Roth, Mills College

2009 Guerrilla Girls
Jury: Lowery Stokes Sims, Museum of Arts and Design, chair; Diane Burko, Philadelphia Community College; and Moira Roth, Mills College

CWA Annual Recognition Awards

From 1996 to 2008, the Committee on Women in the Arts presented Annual Recognition Awards during a ceremony at the CAA Annual Conference. At its October 2007 meeting, the CAA Board of Directors voted to establish a twelfth Award for Distinction, the Distinguished Feminist Award, which honors a person who, through his or her art, scholarship, or advocacy, has advanced the cause of equality for women in the arts. The Distinguished Feminist Award replaces the committee’s Annual Recognition Award.

2008 Amalia Mesa-Bains and Celia Álvarez Muñoz

2007 Judith Brodsky and Ferris Olin

2006 Moira Roth and Trinh T. Minh-ha

2005 Beverly Buchanan and Lowery Stokes Sims

2004 Betye Saar and Nancy Spero

2003 Elizabeth Catlett and June Wayne

2002 Janet Cox-Rearick and Jaune Quick-To-See Smith

2001 Elsa Honig Fine

2000 Carolee Schneemann, Mary Garrard, and Norma Broude

1999 Samella Lewis

1998 Linda Nochlin

1997 Louise Bourgeouis

1996 Agnes Gund