2020 Neddy at Cornish Award Recipients
By Amber Esseiva, National Juror for the 2020 Neddy at Cornish Award and Associate Curator at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
2020 Neddy at Cornish Awards Juror’s Statements
The 2020 Neddy at Cornish Prize has been awarded to Tariqa Waters and Anthony White. This was not an easy decision. Each of the finalists’ possessed strong artistic practices and an impressive commitment to community building. In the end, the two winners exemplified a mastery of their mediums and a commitment to issues related to consumption and the formation of identity today.
The COVID 19 pandemic has revealed many things to us but above all else what this global pandemic has exemplified are the ways in which inequities can become further substantiated in times of economic and social decline. This pandemic has unevenly affected those in the service industries while it also has led to a drastic rise in consumption from companies such as Amazon. In a time where race, equity, and identity have become central to many conversations in the field Waters and White provide access and insight into issues related to identity and mass consumption that feel necessary.
Tariqa Waters is the award recipient in the Neddy’s Open Medium category. Waters’s larger-than-life installations and sculptures generate environments in which everyday objects and architectural spaces become the vehicles for confronting personal memories and inherited generational circumstances. The work is at once deeply personal yet accessible to those who have sought refuge and calm within domestic spaces.
Waters’s installations, sculptures, and photographs strive towards defining a language for a Black pop aesthetic wherein products and environments are directly related to lived experiences within Black American households. In doing so, the everyday becomes a site for exploring our relationship to the family unit, material culture, and consumption.
Throughout Waters’s multi-media works is a consistent engagement to scale. In her installations the objects and environments she produces appear as exaggerated sets. Oversized toilet paper rolls, children’s ball hair ties, and lunch boxes function as props for self-portraiture and installation. Throughout her practice Waters’s utilizes scale in service of a Black vernacular.
In addition to her studio practice, Waters’s has invested considerable time and energy into the community through Martyr Sauce, a Black-owned artist-led community space in Seattle. In a region with limited designated space for Black creative expression Waters’s initiative stands out and remains necessary.
Anthony White is the award recipient in the The Neddy’s Painting category. White’s work innovates the medium of painting through his use of PLA (polylactic acid). White transforms a plastic-like material, traditionally used to package and preserve consumer goods into a medium for painting. By doing so, White forges a direct and consistent correlation between his material and content as it relates to consumption and the construction of identity.
White’s interest in social media is integral to his paintings and a direct confrontation on our complex relationship to social networking. The icons, objects, and subjects that appear in White’s work overlap at dizzying speeds in order to represent the constant presence and influence that social media plays in our lives. In doing so, White produced works that engages with what is means for subjectivities to become consumer products.
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