Anonymous Was A Woman’s 2016 Award Recipients

Posted by: Roy Wilbur

Ten distinguished women artists have been recognized for their originality and potential by Anonymous Was A Woman.  Painter Shiva Ahmadi, artist Laura Anderson Barbata, performance artist Tania Bruguera, craft artist Sonya Clark, sculpture artist Simone Leigh, painter Medrie MacPhee, interdisciplinary artist and performer Eiko Otake, sculpture artist Rona Pondick, director and producer Lourdes Portillo and artist Shinique Smith are all recipients of its 2016 Award. Each year, the Award recognizes women artists over 40 years of age who have made significant contributions in their fields to date, while continuing to exhibit originality and creative potential through ongoing work.

Winners are chosen from among a competitive pool of applicants selected by a group of distinguished art historians, curators, writers, and artists who serve as anonymous nominators. This year’s list of winners consists of ten artists between the ages of 41 and 72 working in painting, sculpture, film, social practice, and performance. Five of this year’s awardees were born abroad, in Mexico, Iran, Cuba, Canada, and Japan.

Recipients of the Anonymous Was A Woman Award receive a “no strings-attached” grant of $25,000 intended to provide them freedom to continue development of their creative vision. The only requirement of the award is that recipients inform the program how the gift affected their life or work. Click here for a list of past winners

Lauren Shenfield, director of the program, explains, “Anonymous Was A Woman Awards provide important recognition to artists on the spectrum between ‘emerging and established.’ The grants fuel both personal and artistic development. The financial gift helps artists buy time, space, materials, and equipment, often at early stages of a new project, as well as important emotional support. Perhaps most importantly, the Award offers an opportunity for women artists of inordinate talent and accomplishment to achieve greater recognition.”

“This is truly a country where the dreams come true,” said Shiva Ahmadi, born in Iran, on learning of the Award. Lourdes Portillo, 72 and born in Mexico, reiterated the program’s mission: “There is not a lot of appreciation for women artists of this age,” she said. “This gives me the impulse to keep going and will inspire other women of age, wisdom and experience.”

The name of the grant program refers to a line in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. As the name implies, nominators and those associated with the program are unnamed. After 21 years of grant-making and 210 awards totaling over $5 million, the program’s donor remains anonymous.

Image: Simone Leigh, Althea, 2016 | Terracotta, India ink, porcelain, cobalt and epoxy | 26 x 24 x 15 inches (66 x 61 x 38.1 cm).


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