UMBC artists recognized for excellence through highly competitive awards

Funding for individual artists is often scarce and always highly competitive, but the Baltimore-Washington region is fortunate to have both state and private organizations awarding funds directly to individual artists. Award announcements this spring include many UMBC students, alumni and faculty, whose recognition speaks to ongoing artistic excellence at UMBC.

The Maryland State Arts Council’s annual Individual Artist Award (IAA) “recognizes the importance of artists and their works of excellence to the cultural vibrancy of Maryland.” The award categories cycle every three years and this year awards were given within the disciplines of Creative Non-Fiction/Fiction, Media/Digital/Electronic Arts, Theater Solo Performance, Painting, and Works on Paper. Selected from more than 585 applicants, the 2016 awardees receive grants for $1,000, $3,000 or $6,000 to honor their achievement and to support further advancement of their career.

This year’s recipients, announced March 30, 2016, include Lynn Cazabon, associate professor visual arts; Dominique Zeltzman, M.F.A. ’14, imaging & digital arts; Mina Cheon, M.F.A. ’02, imaging & digital arts; and David Anthony Brown ’99, visual and performing arts. Lynn Cazabon, whose project Portrait Garden includes photographic images of plants selected to represent eleven women incarcerated at Maryland Correctional Institution for Women and audio statements, received the highest award level in Digital Medi. She commented: “This is my 4th MSAC grant since 2003 and the first time winning it in the Digital Media category. The recognition and validation of the award is valuable in and of itself but also the merit basis means the funds can support any aspect of my work, not just a specific project.”

Finalists for the 11th Annual Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize were also recently announced and include Christos Palios ’02, visual and performing arts, a fine art photographer “whose work probes ideas and aspects of identity, memory, and isolation within urban, industrial, and natural spaces.” Palios’ work can be found in public and private collections all over the country, and has appeared in such online publications as F-Stop Magazine and Dotphotozine. The award is designed to support artists working in the Greater Baltimore area, and the winner, to be announced July 9 at the Baltimore Museum of Art, will receive a $25,000 fellowship to further their career. The work of the seven finalists will be presented in the Thalheimer Galleries at the Baltimore Museum of Art from Wednesday, June 22 through Sunday, July 31, 2016.

UMBC community members who were semifinalists for the prize include Marian Glebes, M.F.A. ’09, intermedia and digital arts; Jason Hughes, M.F.A. ’15, intermedia and digital arts; Vincent Carney ’06, visual arts; Ben Marcin ’80, economics; and Lynn Cazabon, associate professor of visual arts. An exhibition of the semifinalists’ work is shown in the Decker and Meyerhoff galleries of MICA on Friday, July 15 through Sunday, July 31, 2016. An opening reception for the semifinalist exhibition takes place July 14, 2016, 6-9 p.m. at MICA, located at 1303 W. Mount Royal Avenue.

Finalists for the 2016 Baker Artist Award were also recently announced and include Vin Grabill, associate professor of visual art; Richard Chisolm ’82, interdisciplinary studies; Stephanie Schafer ’00, visual and performing arts; and current Intermedia and Digital Arts (IMDA) students Jeffrey Gangwisch, M.F.A. ‘18 and Christopher Kojzar M.F.A. ’18. This year, five artists will be selected to win $85,000 in prizes: the $50,000 Mary Sawyers Imboden Prize, the $20,000 Mary Sawyers Baker Prize, and three $5,000 prizes (the Semmes G. Walsh, Nancy Haragan, and Board of Governors Awards). These prizes will be awarded “to artists who exemplify a mastery of craft, commitment to excellence, and a unique and compelling vision.” Awardees will be announced on May 12 on a special episode of Maryland Public Television’s “Artworks” program.

Images by Lynn Cazabon: Above left, installation of Portrait Garden interactive poster in Baltimore Light Rail car; above right, Portrait Garden (C, Echinacea purpurea), 22″ x 23″, 2014