Thursday, February 20, 2014

MEDIA NEWS: High Museum of Art Names Lyle Ashton Harris 2014 Recipient of David C. Driskell Prize

Chuck Close, Lyle, 2006, Jacquard Tapestry, 103 x 79 in. (261.6 x 200.7 cm). Image via
Artist to be honored at the 10th anniversary Driskell Prize Dinner in Atlanta on May 2

From High Museum of Art press release:

The High Museum of Art has named artist Lyle Ashton Harris the 2014 recipient of the  David C. Driskell Prize. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the prize, which the High established in 2005 as the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African American art and art history.

For more than two decades, Harris has cultivated a diverse artistic practice ranging from photographic media and collage to installation and performance. His work explores intersections between the personal and the political, examining the impact of ethnicity, gender and desire on the contemporary social and cultural dynamic.

Known for his self-portraits and use of pop culture icons (such as Billie Holiday and Michael Jackson), Harris teases the viewers’ perceptions and expectations, recalibrating the familiar with the extraordinary. Harris’ works were previously on view in the Atlanta metro area in his spring 2013 exhibition “Accra My Love” at Kennesaw State University’s Zuckerman Museum of Art.

As the 10th Driskell Prize recipient, Harris will be honored at the Driskell Prize Dinner in Atlanta on May 2, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.

“Lyle Ashton Harris’ award-winning artwork has been widely celebrated with exhibitions, commissions and acquisitions,” said Michael E. Shapiro, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. director of the High. “His work tackles issues of global and personal relevance, and it is only fitting that we recognize his artistic excellence on the 10th anniversary of the David C. Driskell Prize.”

The Driskell Prize, named for the renowned African-American artist and art scholar, recognizes an early or mid-career scholar or artist whose work makes an original and important contribution to the field of African-American art or art history. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the award, the High is currently presenting the exhibition “A Decade of David C. Driskell,” which showcases works by Driskell as well as works by Driskell Prize honorees and others acquired by the Museum with the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisitions Fund and the David C. Driskell African American Art Endowment.

The selection process for the 2014 recipient of the Driskell Prize began with a call for nominations from a national pool of artists, curators, teachers, collectors and art historians. Harris was chosen from these nominations by review committee members assembled by the High Museum of Art, which this year included Michael Rooks, the High’s Wieland Family curator of modern and contemporary art; Naomi Beckwith, Marilyn and Larry Fields curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and  Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, 2013 Driskell Prize recipient and director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.

The 2014 Driskell Prize Dinner is co-chaired by Lovette Russell and Jack Sawyer with Honorary Chair F. Terry Stent. Tickets for the black-tie event can be purchased by contacting Rhonda Matheison at or 404-733-4403.

About Lyle Ashton Harris

Based in New York City, Harris is an associate professor at New York University and has exhibited his work internationally, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the 52nd Venice Biennale.

Harris’ work has been acquired by major international museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts Boston; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, among many others. His commissioned work has been featured in a wide range of publications, including The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker.

Born in New York City, Harris spent his formative years in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. He received his bachelor of arts with honors from Wesleyan University in 1988 and a masters in fine arts from the California Institute of the Arts in 1990. He recently joined the board of trustees of the American Academy in Rome.

Harris is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including the 2009 Goddard Award, the 2009 American Photography Award, the 2001 Rome Prize Fellowship, and the 1991 National Endowment for the Arts Regional Fellowship for the Visual Arts, among others.

About the David C. Driskell Prize

Established by the High in 2005, the David C. Driskell Prize is the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African American art and art history. Past recipients include Andrea Barwell Brownlee (2013), Rashid Johnson (2012), Valerie Cassel Oliver (2011), Renee Stout (2010), Krista A. Thompson (2009),  Xaviera Simmons (2008), Franklin Sirmans (2007), Willie Cole (2006) and Dr. Kellie Jones (2005). A cash award of $25,000 accompanies the prize. Proceeds from the High’s annual Driskell Prize Dinner go toward both the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisitions Fund and the David C. Driskell African American Art Endowment. Through the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisitions Fund, the High acquired works by artists including Rashid Johnson, Radcliffe Bailey, Nick Cave, Willie Cole, John T. Scott and Renee Stout.

About David C. Driskell

David Driskell is a practicing artist and scholar whose work on the African Diaspora spans more than four decades. The High’s relationship with Driskell began in 2000, when the Museum presented the concurrent exhibitions “To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities” and “Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection,” which examined African American art in the broad historical context of modern and contemporary art. Born in 1931 in Eatonton, Ga., Driskell is distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Howard University in 1955 and his master of fine arts degree from Catholic University in 1962. He also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 1953 and studied art history in The Hague, the Netherlands, in 1964. More information about Driskell is available at

About the High Museum of Art

Founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, the High Museum of Art is the leading art museum in the Southeastern U.S. With more than 14,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, folk art and African art. For more information visit

About The Woodruff Arts Center

The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not- for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. To learn more visit

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