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Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art Celebrates Fifth Anniversary with the Sackler Center First Awards

The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum is celebrating its fifth anniversary by honoring fifteen contemporary women with the Sackler Center First Awards. Each of the recipients has broken a gender barrier to make a remarkable achievement and contribution in her respective field. The awards ceremony will take place in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum on Wednesday, April 18, from 4 to 6 p.m. 

The event will be hosted by broadcaster and best-selling author Laura Flanders and CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien. The Sackler Center First Awards will be presented by Elizabeth Sackler and Gloria Steinem

Recipients of the Sackler Center First Awards are: 

* Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (Ret.), the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court (1981) 

* Marin Alsop, Music Director of the Baltimore Orchestra, the first woman to be appointed to direct a major American orchestra (2007) 

* Connie Chung, broadcast journalist, who became the first person of Asian Pacific descent to hold a network anchor position when she joined Walter Cronkite as co-anchor of the CBS Evening News (1971) 

* Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, the first African American woman president of Spelman College (1987) 

* WilhelMina Cole Holladay, a founder and chairman of the first museum devoted exclusively to women artists, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (1987) 

* Sandy Lerner, a developer of the first commercial router and founder of Cisco Systems (1984) 

* Lucy R. Lippard, leader of the first generation of feminist art critics; her first book on the subject was From the Center: Feminist Essays on Women's Art (1976) 

* Wilma Mankiller (deceased), the first woman chief of an American Indian nation (Cherokee Nation, 1985) 

* Toni Morrison, the first African American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (1993) 

* Linda Nochlin, leader of the first generation of feminist art historians, known for her essay "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" (1971) 

* Jessye Norman, youngest recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor (1997) 

* Judith Rodin, who became the first woman to lead an Ivy League institution when appointed president of the University of Pennsylvania (1994), and the first woman president of the Rockefeller Foundation (2005) 

* Muriel Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange (1967) and known as "The First Woman of Finance" 

* Susan Stroman, the first woman commissioned by the New York City Ballet to choreograph a full-length ballet (Double Feature, with music by Irving Berlin and Walter Donaldson, 2004) 

* Faye Wattleton, the first woman and the first African American president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (1978) 

All the awardees will be present with the exception of posthumous honoree Wilma Mankiller, and Justice O'Connor (Ret.) and Marin Alsop, who will participate with filmed acceptance speeches. Each recipient will receive a commemorative glass sculpture created by artist Judy Chicago, inspired by the Millennium Triangle Runners in her iconic feminist work The Dinner Party, which is on permanent view in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. The recipients will become twenty-first century, permanent members of the symbolic fourth wing of The Dinner Party

Tickets to the event, which will be free and open to the public, may be obtained by calling (718) 501-6589 or by e-mail at

The award recipients were selected by a panel of women that included Dorothy Abbott, Beverly Ehrlich, Nicole Ehrlich, Stephanie Ingrassia, Carol Jenkins, Helen Kornblum, Myrna Ruskin, Elizabeth Sackler, Gloria Steinem, Regina Tully, and Lola West. 

For the past five years, the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art has continued to fulfill its commitment to the past, present, and future of feminist art. Using its award-winning exhibition and education spaces, the Sackler Center strives to raise awareness of feminism's cultural contributions. Dialogue and debate about feminist art, theory, and activism take place in the Sackler Center's Forum, and groundbreaking exhibitions are held in its Feminist Art and Herstory galleries. The Council for Feminist Art, a membership group enjoying the benefits of special events, supports the ongoing educational programming and the continuing success of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. The Sackler Center has attracted more than half a million visitors since it opened in March of 2007. The only public space of its kind in the United States, the dramatic 8,000-square-foot award-winning space was designed by architect Susan T. Rodriguez, a partner in Ennead Architects. 

"We are enormously grateful to Brooklyn Trustee Elizabeth Sackler for her generous support in creating the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum and for the gift of The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. Watching the growth and development of the Sackler Center during the course of its five-year history into an international resource for educating new generations about the significance of feminist art, and its development into a dynamic learning facility, has been a remarkable and rewarding experience for me and the entire staff of the Brooklyn Museum," comments Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman. 

The Sackler Center First Awards were conceived by their benefactor Elizabeth Sackler. A public historian, arts activist, American Indian advocate, and matron of the arts, she was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Museum in 2000. Elizabeth A. Sackler, Ph.D. is president of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation. A writer and lecturer, she has been the recipient of numerous awards and citations, among them ArtTable's prestigious Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts Award in 2006 and the Jewish Women's Archive 2012 "Making Trouble/Making History" award. 

Of the Sackler Center First Awards, Elizabeth Sackler states, "This is the culmination of the month-long series of events celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Sackler Center's emergence as a cutting-edge hub of feminist and women's art. It is the perfect moment to recognize and honor contemporary women, women of our lifetime, who, as women first in their fields, have not only broken gender boundaries, but who, through their service and successes, have bettered our country and our world through their achievements in art, science, the humanities, politics, and human rights. I thank them for accepting the Sackler Center First Awards, and welcome them as a permanent part of the Sackler Center of the Brooklyn Museum." 

The First Awards are made possible with generous support from the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation. 

The Sackler Center First Awards ceremony immediately precedes the 2012 Brooklyn Artists Ball, the major annual fundraising event of the Brooklyn Museum. This year's ball will celebrate women artists and the fifth anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. During the evening, Elizabeth Sackler will be presented with the Augustus Graham Medal, named after a founder of the Museum and awarded each year in recognition of a strong commitment to the arts and continued support of the Brooklyn Museum.

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