Hermitage Awards Two $30,000 Commissions In Visual Art And Dance; 2023 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Winners Announced

By: Jan. 10, 2023
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Hermitage Awards Two $30,000 Commissions In Visual Art And Dance; 2023 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Winners Announced

The Hermitage Artist Retreat (Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO), in collaboration with the Philadelphia-based Greenfield Foundation, has selected two recipients for the 2023 Hermitage Greenfield Prize, one in the discipline of visual art and one in the field of dance and choreography. The prize is awarded annually, rotating between the fields of music, theater, and visual art. This year's recipient in visual art is Sandy Rodriguez. Raised on the US-Mexico border, Rodriguez creates poignant landscapes that weave together history, social memory, contemporary politics, and cultural production. Past winners of this distinguished honor in visual art include Sanford Biggers, Trenton Doyle Hancock, and Coco Fusco, among others.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary season of the Hermitage and the 15-year legacy of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize, the Hermitage and the Greenfield Foundation decided to present a second award in the discipline of dance and choreography. This is the first time the HGP is recognizing dance, with a special prize going to Lorenzo 'Rennie' Harris. Harris has been a pioneer in the street dance movement since founding Rennie Harris Puremovement in the early 90s, bringing authentic hip-hop experiences to the dance concert stage and educational spaces around the world.

Harris and Rodriguez will each receive a six-week Hermitage Fellowship and a $30,000 commission to create a new work in their respective fields, which will have their first public presentations in Sarasota County in 2025.

"Amidst a truly extraordinary field of finalists for both dance and visual art, Rennie Harris and Sandy Rodriguez are both groundbreaking generative artists who impressed the respective juries with their compelling and inspiring proposals," says Hermitage Artistic Director Andy Sandberg. "Their dedication to their craft embodies the mission of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize - to bring into the world works of art that have a significant impact on the broad as well as the artistic culture of our society. We thank our distinguished jurors for their passion and dedication, and we congratulate all of our brilliant finalists, whom we look forward to welcoming at the Hermitage. We look forward to welcome Rennie and Sandy to Florida for the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner in April, and subsequently hosting them as Hermitage Fellows and sharing the first public presentations of their new commissions in Sarasota in 2025." The Hermitage's presenting partners for each of their works will be announced at a later date.

Lorenzo 'Rennie' Harris was born and raised in an African American community in North Philadelphia. In 1992, Harris founded Rennie Harris Puremovement, a street dance theater company dedicated to preserving and disseminating hip-hop culture through workshops, classes, hip-hop history lecture demonstrations, long-term residencies, mentoring programs, and public performances. Harris founded his company based on the belief that hip-hop is the most important original expression of a new generation. His company has toured internationally performing such original works as "Rome and Jules," a reimagining of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (2001 'Bessie' award in choreography), "Lazarus" as the first choreographer in residence for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2018, and "Lifted: A Gospel House Musical" a New York Times Critics' Pick when it premiered at The Joyce Theater in 2022, amongst many other productions and honors.

Based in Los Angeles, Sandy Rodriguez is a first-generation Chicana artist and researcher. Since receiving her BFA from the California Institute of Arts, she has exhibited her works at the Denver Art Museum, The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Garden, The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Busan, South Korea. Her works, such as Codex Rodriguez-Mondragón have been featured in BBC News: In The Studio, Hyperallergic, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and Spectrum News/NY1, and her works are in the permanent collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX, The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Garden, San Marino, CA, among others.

Hermitage Greenfield Prize recipients and finalists are nominated and selected by a jury of nationally recognized arts leaders. The 2023 jury in dance and choreography included Joseph V. Melillo (chair), BAM's Executive Director Emeritus and the first member of the Hermitage's National Curatorial Council; Michael Novak, Artistic Director of the acclaimed Paul Taylor Dance Company, and a longtime company member himself; and Charmaine Warren, performer, historian, consultant, dance writer, and the founding artistic director for "Black Dance Stories."

Three finalists for the 2023 Hermitage Greenfield Prize in Dance & Choreography include Dormeshia, hailed by The New York Times as "the queen of tap" and co-director of the tap program at Jacob's Pillow; Jamar Roberts, a Bessie Award winner for Outstanding Performance who has choreographed for such noted institutions as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York City Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet; and Christopher Williams, a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in choreography whose works have been seen all over the world including commissions from Baryshnikov Arts Center, The Joyce Theater, NYLA, Opéra Royal du Château de Versailles, and Perm Opera & Ballet Theater. All three dance finalists will receive a Hermitage Fellowship, in addition to a prize of $1,000.

"Rennie Harris belongs in the pantheon of American masters," says Joseph Melillo. "His usage of Hip-hop techniques, styles, and vocabularies has transformed the dance genre to an artistic plateau. He has accomplished this transformative achievement with humanity, intelligence, and grace."

"I am beyond thrilled that the prestigious Hermitage Greenfield Prize is generously supporting dance and choreographers this year, thereby reaching more audiences of all ages across our greater arts communities," says Michael Novak. "It means a great deal to offer this prize to Rennie Harris, an icon in our industry who has not only brought Street and Hip-hop dance - in all its powerful iterations - to the front and center of the concert dance landscape, but he has done so with a powerful passion for education, hope, inclusion, and supporting the next generation of dancers and dance-lovers."

"It makes sense that Dance Magazine long ago dubbed Rennie Harris the "high priest of hip hop," says Charmaine Warren. "When the often-shy, Philadelphia-born choreographer founded his company Rennie Harris Puremovement in 1992, he planted a prodigious seed in the dance world. Then and now, Harris' mission has been to examine, preserve, and share the culture of Hip-hop, decisively away from the commercially exploited view. This award from the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation will support Rennie's continued work in teaching the world about the American-born dance form."

"I'm always appreciative of when I'm seen because we all move in our own worlds, just figuring things out and never knowing who is watching. This is definitely a major surprise," said Harris upon hearing the news. "I am extremely grateful to everyone who thought of me and thinks that I'm worth the time to help support in this lifelong vision."

Rennie Harris' intended commission will focus on a work titled "Losing My Religion," a personal reflection on his own journey that weaves in thoughts on the world's collective dilemmas. Harris is known for challenging what has come to be expected of Street dance and Hip-hop culture and the degenerative social norms and beliefs that ground the struggles of our time. As a part of this new work, he plans to incorporate a reimagining of his renowned solo, "Endangered Species," an autobiographical work recounting his experience of being chased and shot down in Kingston, Jamaica while touring as a U.S. ambassador for President Reagan's 'American Embassy Tour.' The solo's inclusion in the work completes a story of systemic racism and revolt, shifting away from what was to what is and what can be. Harris plans to debut his own acrylic and collage visuals as part of the work and hopes the work will be a vehicle for his return to the stage, setting the work on his own body. "Losing My Religion" aims to be a haunting narrative of personal and systemic struggle and transformation, symbolic of an awakening and ultimately reminding us of our humanity. Harris adds, "This work, at its core, coincides with the mission of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize, invoking and promoting voice and expression of the human spirit."

Visual Art recipients and finalists of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize are similarly nominated and selected by a jury of nationally recognized arts leaders. The 2023 jury in Visual Art included Allison Glenn, Senior Curator at New York's Public Art Fund and curator of Promise, Witness, Remembrance (2021) at the Speed Art Museum, which The New York Times selected as one of the "Best Art Exhibitions of 2021"; Christine Kuan, President and Executive Director of Creative Capital, and the former CEO/Director of Sotheby's Institute of Art (NY); and Anne Patterson, acclaimed multidisciplinary visual artist and alumna Hermitage Fellow whose recent commission Ascendant Light is the anchor of Capital One's corporate headquarters.

Three finalists for the 2023 Hermitage Greenfield Prize in Visual Art include Maura Brewer, whose work has been exhibited at MoMA, Art in General in New York, the MCA in Chicago, the Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, and the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wein in Vienna, among other places; Azza El Siddique, who has exhibited work at noted intuitions such as MIT List Center, Helena Anrather (NY), Oakville Galleries (Ontario), The Gardiner Museum (Toronto), and The Museum of Contemporary Art (Toronto); and Joanna Keane Lopez, who has been supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and had work exhibited at The Momentary of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, SITE Santa Fe, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum, Akron Art Museum, and Sarasota Art Museum. All three visual art finalists will receive a Hermitage Fellowship, in addition to a prize of $1,000.

"Sandy Rodriquez is an artist very particular to this time," says Anne Patterson. "Her inspired thought-provoking work reveals neglected histories that urgently need to be unveiled." Fellow visual art jurors Allison Glenn and Christine Kuan echoed Patterson's remarks, describing Rodriguez as "dynamic," "remarkable," "compelling," and a "community builder."

"I couldn't be more thrilled to have this opportunity, and to think very deeply about what it means to create a site-specific installation that will engage with a range of constituents and communities to really move the field forward." said Sandy Rodriguez upon learning of her selection. "The finalist invitation from the Hermitage gave me a moment to pause and to contemplate what might be possible - how I might take this moment of radical expansion and growth and do something experimental and site-specific to this region and this organization. I am just absolutely overjoyed."

Sandy Rodriguez plans to use her commission to create a panoramic exhibition, the centerpiece of which will be a new large-scale map that depicts the southeastern topography and coastline marked by stories of resistance from the colonial period to the present. Created with hand-processed local mineral pigment watercolors on amate paper with an accompanying audio installation, the effect will be reminiscent of a 19th-century style panorama in the round. Rodriguez intends that the anticolonial panorama will make visible a history of the region for a wide range of contemporary audiences. Of interest at this preliminary stage are the histories of indigenous resistance after the arrival of Juan Ponce de Leon, migrations, and events drawn from contemporary news stories. The work will include depictions of endemic and endangered native plants and marine animals, and climate change as ongoing colonial aggression will also be addressed in the work.

Harris and Rodriguez will be celebrated at the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner on Sunday, April 16th, at 6pm at the Ca' d'Zan of The Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. Capacity will be limited, so early reservations are strongly recommended. Co-Chairs for this event are Tom & Sherry Koski, with The Ringling Museum Executive Director Steven High and Sarasota Art Museum Executive Director Virginia Shearer serving as Honorary Co-Chairs. Tables and sponsorships now available; additional information can be found at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

In addition to the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner on April 16th, the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Celebration will include programs and talks with current and past HGP winners and jurors throughout the weekend of April 14-16, 2023. These events will be presented on the Hermitage Beach and throughout Sarasota County with some also available online. Additional details about these programs will be announced at a later date. The Hermitage Greenfield Prize Celebration is presented in partnership with the Greenfield Foundation, with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County serving as the lead Community Sponsor.

In addition to the Hermitage Greenfield Prize, the Hermitage Artist Retreat launched the annual Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA) in 2021, newly established to recognize a playwright or theater artist with a $35,000 commission to create a new, original, and impactful piece of theater. Recipients of the HMTA to date include playwright Madeleine George (Only Murders in the Building on Hulu) and theater maker Shariffa Ali, both with anticipated developmental workshops in the fall of 2023, as well as the most recently announced recipient Imani Uzuri with an expected presentation of her work in the fall of 2024.

For more information about the Hermitage, the Hermitage Greenfield Prize, and upcoming Hermitage programs, visit HermitageArtistRetreat.org.


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