September 28, 2008 - Smithsonian American Art Museum - 2008 Winner of the Annual Contemporary Artist Award
September 28, 2008

2008 Winner of the Annual Contemporary Artist Award

Mark Dion
Is the 2008 Winner of Smithsonian
American Art Museum’s
Annual Contemporary Artist Award

Eighth and F Streets NW
Washington, D.C.

Mark Dion is the 2008 winner of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lucelia Artist Award. He was selected by an independent panel of jurors for his prolific creativity and impressively varied body of work, which includes mixed-media installations, sculptures and public projects that explore the relationship between art, science and history through pseudo-scientific methods of investigation and display. Dion is the eighth annual winner of the 25,000 USD award, which is intended to encourage the artist’s future development and experimentation.

The five jurors who selected the winner are Mark Bessire, director of the Bates College Museum of Art; Allan McCollum, artist and senior critic in sculpture at the Yale University School of Art; Nancy Princenthal, senior editor at Art in America magazine; John Ravenal, the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; and Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, director and chief curator at the Aspen Art Museum.

“The Lucelia Artist Award acknowledges Mark Dion’s tireless imagination and ongoing achievement as an artist and educator,” the jurors wrote in their decision. “His archeological digs and museum interventions celebrate the value of exploration and learning, and invite audiences to embark on their own journey of intellectual discovery. This approach, coupled with a prodigious commitment to visual creativity, has inspired a generation of artists and established Dion as one of the most innovative contemporary artists working today.”

The jurors continued, “Dion’s interdisciplinary practice has yielded an expansive body of work that weaves together history, science and popular culture with ingenuity and wit. In taking on the various roles of naturalist, archeologist, entomologist, social historian and romantic traveler, Dion not only demonstrates a remarkable sense of curiosity, but also an abiding love for the natural and built environment. Over the last two decades, he has collaborated with cultural organizations around the world to explore how society accumulates and disseminates knowledge through the classification and display of artifacts. In so doing, Dion has moved beyond traditional modes of institutional critique, and become a passionate advocate for collections large and small.”

Dion’s work has been shown widely at museums and galleries as well as nature centers, parks and gardens in the United States, Canada and in Europe. Recent major exhibitions and installations have been on view at Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia, the Natural History Museum in London, the Miami Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, In Situ gallery in Paris, and the Tate Britain in London. In 2006, “Neukom Vivarium,” a permanent installation commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum, debuted in Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park. Dion is represented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York City.

In addition to Dion, the 2008 nominees were Doug Aitken, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Slater Bradley, Matthew Buckingham, Keith Edmier, Spencer Finch, Harrell Fletcher, Mark Grotjahn, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Rachel Harrison, Zoe Leonard, Suzanne McClelland, Wangechi Mutu and Dana Schutz.

The Lucelia Artist Award is part of the museum’s ongoing commitment to contemporary art and artists through annual exhibitions, acquisitions and public programs. Joanna Marsh, The James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum coordinated the jury panel selection and the nomination and jurying process for the award.

The Lucelia Artist Award, established in 2001, annually recognizes an American artist younger than 50 who has produced a significant body of work and consistently demonstrates exceptional creativity. Each year, five distinguished jurors nominate artists to be considered for the award; there is no application. Previous winners were Jessica Stockholder (2007), Matthew Coolidge, director of the Center for Land Use Interpretation (2006); Andrea Zittel (2005); Kara Walker (2004); Rirkrit Tiravanija (2003); Liz Larner (2002); and Jorge Pardo (2001).

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Eighth and F Streets NW
Washington, D.C.
Open daily 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Smithsonian American Art Museum
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