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2017 Florida Prize in Contemporary Art

By Claire Fenton

For the fourth year in a row, the Orlando Museum of Art is celebrating the work of exceptional artists in the state by recognizing the creations of a handful of its most influential residents. It culminates in its annual exhibition, which this year comprises the works of 10 outstanding artists, including Domingo Castillo, William Cordova, Coco Fusco, Mark Gerstein, Aramis Gutierrez, Dana Hargrove, Lisa Iglesias, Carl Juste, Ralph Provisero and Chase Westfall.

William Cordova was named the 2017 recipient of the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art by Glen Gentele, the director and CEO of the museum, at the Florida Prize Exhibition Preview Party on June 2.

This diverse group of artists range from emerging forces to mid-career professionals-some of whom have garnered substantial international recognition. Nonetheless, they are all making a difference, which is why they were chosen by exhibition jurors Dan L. Hess, a visual artist based in Central Florida, Katherine Navarro, associate curator of education at The Mennello Museum of American Art, and Joanna Robotham, curator of contemporary art at the Tampa Museum of Art.

Domingo Castillo, Surface Image: Prologue: Oranges, 2015, HD Film, TRT: 30:08 minutes.

“As a group, these artists are responding to many of the difficult issues of the moment,” said Hansen Mulford, curator at the Orlando Museum of Art. “With some artists, these issues are as specific as political violence in Syria or the urgency of an election in Haiti, while other artists engage more universal concerns of social justice, cultural identity and the importance of art in interpreting the challenges of contemporary life. The Florida Prize in Contemporary Art is an opportunity to explore a range of ideas that are relevant today as expressed by these artists in exciting and visually provocative works of art.”

Born in Lima, Peru, William Cordova moved to Miami in his youth. He attended Miami Dade Community College before completing his BFA at the Art Institute of Chicago and MFA at Yale University. He splits his time between Miami, New York and Lima and travels extensively for research, projects, residencies and exhibitions. “These transitions between countries, between economies, between the nuance of language and culture, has developed for me an understanding of the visual world, its potential for limitations and its potential for resilience,” Cordova said. “I invest in these nuances to find a critical space, which pushes past complacency to modes of resistance in the present moment.”

william cordova, the house that frank lloyd wright built 4 fred hampton y mark clark (despues de atahualpa), 2006-2017, lumber, vintage photos, copy of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, candy, 96” x 180” x 240.” Courtesy of the artist. © william cordova.

Included in the exhibition is Cordova’s the house that frank lloyd wright built 4 fred hampton y mark clark (despues de atahualpa), an architectural installation that is a memorial and meditative space that synthesizes spiritual, physical and historical references. Also included are a selection of drawings, collages and sculptures. These often reference modes of communication transformed by ever-changing contexts of history and culture. One reoccurring motif is seen in collages of abstract patterns of color that draw upon ancient Andean textiles whose fractal designs have biological origins and are applied to all aspects of Andean society: architecture, philosophy and spirituality. Cordova incorporates an array of historic and contemporary images, such as patterns of Andean stonework, details of domestic architecture, old audio speakers, stacks of vinyl records and the humble detritus of the past and present, all symbols that represent concepts of transmission, movement and data storage. These images are combined with a rich variety of materials, such as gold leaf, plaster, coffee pigment, ballpoint pens and paints of many types. Cordova deploys this vocabulary of image and material to address such topics as the ontological crossroads, our interdependence and reciprocity, and the alchemy of necessity.

Installation view of Chase Westfall, Florida Prize in Contemporary Art 2017, Orlando Museum of Art. © Chase Westfall. Courtesy of Orlando Museum of Art.

Cordova has exhibited across the U.S., Asia, Latin America and Europe. In addition, his work is in the public collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Guggenheim Museum, both in New York; Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; Harvard University in Boston; Yale University in New Haven, Conn.; Museo de Arte de Lima in Peru; Ellipse Foundation, in Alcabideche, Portugal; Perez Art Museum in Miami; and La Casa de las Americas in Havana. He also participated in several biennials, including the 2008 Whitney Biennial, 2010 MoMA PS1 Greater New York, Prospect.3 New Orleans Biennial in 2014, 12th Havana Biennial in 2015, SITE Santa Fe in New Mexico and Southern Accent at the Nasher Museum at Duke University in Durham, N.C., in 2016.

The internationally acclaimed Coco Fusco is an interdisciplinary artist and writer and the Andrew Banks Endowed Professor of Art at the University of Florida. Her work explores gender, identity, race and power through performance, video, interactive installations and critical writing. She is a recipient of a 2014 Cintas Fellowship, 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2013 Absolut Art Writing Award, 2013 Fulbright Fellowship, 2012 U.S. Artists Fellowship and 2003 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Fusco’s performances and videos have been presented at the 56th Venice Biennale, the 1993 and 2008 Whitney Biennials, BAM’s Next Wave Festival, the Sydney Biennale, the Johannesburg Biennial, the Gwangju Biennale, the Shanghai Biennale, InSite O5, Mercosul, Transmediale, the London International Festival of Theatre, VideoBrasil and Performa05. Her works have also been shown at the Tate Liverpool, the Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. Fusco is the author of English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas (1995), The Bodies that Were Not Ours and Other Writings (2001) and A Field Guide for Female Interrogators (2008). She is also the editor of Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas (1999) and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (2003). Her new book, Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba, was recently issued by Tate Publications in London.

Coco Fusco, Y entonces el mar te habla (And the Sea Will Talk to You), 2012, installation view, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 2012, 45 minute single channel digital film, dimensions variable. Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York © 2017 Coco Fusco/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Domingo Castillo, another selected artist, lives and works in Miami. He has participated in numerous exhibitions in this country, Mexico, Spain and Germany. He has received accolades, including the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2015), South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship (2012), Miami New Times Mastermind Grant (2012), ASDF 1001 Grant (2009), The Betty Larry Purchase Award (2008), PIP work grant (2007) and a merit fellowship from Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture.

For his part, Mark Gerstein began his career in the mainstream film industry in Los Angeles, where he was a film editor on feature films and television series from major Hollywood studios and television networks. As an independent filmmaker, he has written and directed narrative and experimental films that have exhibited in more than 30 international film festivals. His current work has moved beyond the convention of film as an image on a screen to the intersection of motion picture, the still frame and the third dimension in a gallery setting. He is currently an associate professor of film in the School of Visual Arts and Design at University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Aramis Gutierrez is a Miami-based painter who has exhibited both nationally and internationally, with solo exhibitions at Big Pictures Los Angeles, Spinello Projects, David Castillo Gallery and Legal Art (now Cannonball). Through his works, he focuses on the theoretical and historical aspects of painting, questioning the notion of the death of painting and exploring symbolism as a resource in contemporary context. He has been included in group exhibitions at the Perez Art Museum Miami, the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Vox Populi in Philadelphia, DiverseWorks in Houston and Galerie Balice Hertling in Paris. In 2008 and 2009, he participated in the Studio Residency Program at the Deering Estate at Cutler. In 2013, he co-founded the artist-run gallery/artist group Guccivuitton (later changed to Versace Versace Versace and then to Noguchi Breton), which focused on the presentation of colloquial aesthetics in South Florida. His works can be found in numerous private collections as well as the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.

Dana Hargrove, Cairn, 2013, acrylic on MDF, 130” x 48.” Courtesy of Bridgette Mayer Gallery. © Dana Hargrove. Courtesy of Snap! Orlando.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dana Hargrove is a professor of studio art at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., where she resides. She concerns herself with ideas that frame our perceptions of the land and our sense of place and space, she employs a range of media that includes photography, collage, sculpture and installed paintings, including large-scale, site-specific works.

Hargrove has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally at such venues as alt_space gallery and Atlantic Center for the Arts, both in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.; Cornell Fine Arts Museum in Winer Park, Fla.; Bridgette Mayer Gallery in Philadelphia; and Greatmore Studios in Cape Town, South Africa. She has received several awards, including the National Young Painters Competition First Place Award, full artist-in-residence fellowships at Vermont Studio Center, CentralTrak at the University of Texas at Dallas Artists Residency, and Greatmore Studios artist in residence.

Mark Gerstein, Self Portrait, 2016, photographs, video projection, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. © Mark Gerstein

“In my work, I question the ties that surround our daily lives, whether cultural, political, religious or social. I look at how our ideals and values are shaped by the fabric of our society and our identity within a nation,” she says. “Life itself can become overproduced as we disengage and allow the boundaries between the representation and reality to become blurred. The apparently innocent space that is in actual fact strategically systemized within our urban existence is an interesting contradiction that I enjoy exploring. I lift and adapt visuals to document the way we often disconnect and fail to see this contradiction. Through my work, I inspire viewers to be more thoughtful in their approach to the everyday and become more connected with their own experience.

Lisa Iglesias is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in Queens, N.Y. who is an assistant professor of drawing at the University of Florida. She has attended residencies such as the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Neb., and exhibited at a variety of spaces, including El Museo del Barrio and the Queens Museum, both in New York.  She also works collaboratively with her sister Janelle as Las Hermanas Iglesias.

Aramis Gutierrez, Morgana, 2015, oil on canvas, 48” x 60.” Courtesy of the artist. © Aramis Gutierrez. Image courtesy of Markus Haugg.

Lisa creates a variety of artworks, and most often, uses drawing as a lens through which to process the world. Meticulous mark-making, repetition and de-contextualization of imagery are all mainstays of her practice and hark to Lisa’s interests in futility and time. Curious about a range of durational qualities-whether related to raising a child, moving a glacier or drawing a line, she engages with these various temporalities through image, process and association. Whether working with paper and graphite, concrete, textile or plaster, she uses drawing as an expansive site for inquiry.

Born in Haiti, Carl Juste was forced to flee his homeland along with his politically active family in 1965 under the threat of persecution. Settling in Miami’s Haitian community, Juste flourished academically and attended the University of Miami. He vigorously pursued photojournalism and, since 1991, has worked as a photojournalist for The Miami Herald, for whom he has covered many national and international stories.

Ralph Provisero, Ironsides, 2017, steel, bronze, 12 x 9 x 9 ft. Courtesy of the artist. © Ralph Provisero. Image courtesy of Raymond Martinot.

He has carried out extensive assignments for the Miami Herald in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, he has worked on three documentary projects for the Historical Museum of Southern Florida in Miami. Juste has been a guest lecturer for various national organizations and universities. He has been celebrated for his work, including winning the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. His work has been exhibited in various prestigious institutions and galleries in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the United States. Juste was one of the founders of Iris Photo Collective in 1998, a collaboration to create a new context to explore and document the relationship of people of color with the world.

The Miami-based Ralph Provisero is a contemporary American artist whose works have been exhibited in museums, galleries and public spaces in North America and Europe and are part of important collections, including the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum, the Deering Estate at Cutler and Miami-Dade County Public Schools. In addition, he is a member of the Curatorial Advisory Board of the Miami Dade College Museum of Art + Design. Currently teaching at New World School of the Arts, he has previously taught at Florida International University, Miami Dade College and the University of Miami and served as a visiting artist at Kansas City Art Institute and Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007, he received the Atlantic Center for the Arts/Joan Mitchell Foundation Scholarship for Visual Artists in Residence.

Carl Juste, Mask, 1993, Giclée print with archival paper and ink, 30” x 40.” Courtesy of the artist. © Carl Juste / Iris PhotoCollective.

Drawing on a broad range of philosophical, theological and artistic influences, Charles Westfall investigates the cultural meaning and societal function of violence. Through sometimes jarring combinations of graphic representation of torn human and animal flesh alongside geometric abstraction, his work gives equal voice to both the heat and brutality of the violent act and the cool, detached analysis to which he seeks to subject it. Though trained as a painter, Westfall’s practice encompasses a broad range of media, including painting, sculpture, installation, video and performance. Westfall received his BFA from the University of Florida in 2008 and MFA from the University of Georgia in 2011. From 2011 to 2013, he served as assistant professor of art at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn. He is currently the director of Gallery Protocol, a contemporary art gallery in Gainesville, Fla., and assistant director of ImperfectArticles.com. His work has been exhibited nationally at galleries and fairs such as Expo Chicago in 2015 with Imperfect Articles, as well as internationally in Germany and South Korea. He lives and works in Gainesville, Fla.

Installation view of Lisa Iglesias, Florida Prize in Contemporary Art 2017, Orlando Museum of Art. © Lisa Iglesias. Image courtesy of Orlando Museum of Art.

The Florida Prize in Contemporary Art highlights the Orlando Museum of Art’s commitment to supporting Florida artists. This award is generously underwritten by Gail and Michael Winn, who also provided funds for honoraria to each of the creators included in the exhibition, which provides an in-depth view of each artist’s practice by showcasing a selection of their recent body of work. The show is on view through Aug. 20.

Orlando Museum of Art is located at 2416 North Mills Ave. Orlando, Fla. 32803 |  www.omart.org.

Claire Fenton is an arts writer based in Jacksonville, Fla.