vera list center for art and politics announces 2022-2024 jane lombard prize for art and social justice

Aboriginal artist collective proppaNOW honored with $25,000 prize for outstanding achievements in art and politics

L-R: Tony Albert, Jennifer Herd, Gordon Hookey, Megan Cope, Richard Bell, Vernon Ah Kee. Photo: Rhett Hammerton

New York, October 24, 2022 - The Vera List Center for Art and Politics is honored to announce the recipient of the 2022–2024 Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice is Australian Aboriginal arts collective proppaNOW for the significance and impact of their collective activities since 2003.

The four finalists for the Prize are also honored and appointed as 2022–2024 Jane Lombard Fellows. They are Colectivo Cherani for Cherán Cultural Center; Khalil Rabah for The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind; KUNCI Study Forum & Collective for School of Improper Education (SoIE); and The Africa Cluster of the Another Roadmap School (ARAC).

The selection of proppaNOW was made unanimously by a jury chaired by Simone Leigh, and comprising Carin Kuoni, Cuauhtémoc Medina, Wanda Nanibush, and Rasha Salti. In their jury citation they comment:

“We are honored to bestow the 2022–2024 Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice on proppaNOW, the First Nations artist collective from Brisbane, Australia. Founded in 2003 to combat the invisibility of urban Aboriginal contemporary art that addresses the issues of our time, it has broken with expectations of what is proper (‘proppa’) in Aboriginal art; created a new sovereign space for First Nations artists internationally outside colonial stereotypes, desires for authenticity, and capitalist capitulations; and opened new political imaginaries.

Confronting the ongoing presence of settler colonialism, proppaNOW’s work demonstrates the synergy of the struggles for artistic representation and social change. The artists remain grounded in community, family, and the love grown of the grassroots. With their center in Brisbane, individual and collaborative artworks, and interventions in public space, they forge ways to share and transfer knowledge to emerging generations. As their work weaves between communal assembly and individual creativity, they offer politically generative practices that can serve as models for political empowerment throughout the world.”

International in scope, the Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice honors outstanding achievements in art and politics, and recognizes an experienced artist or group of artists for a project that engages political themes and advances social justice in profound and visionary ways. The Jane Lombard Prize is awarded on the basis of a project’s long-term impact, boldness, and artistic excellence, and considered in relation to the Vera List Center’s two-year research theme. For this prize cycle, the 2022–2024 Biennial Focus is Correction*.

“We are thrilled to honor proppaNOW for work that has changed the paradigms for how we see, learn of, teach, and support Indigenous art throughout the world” said Carin Kuoni, Senior Director and Chief Curator of Vera List Center for Art and Politics. “As the Vera List Center turns 30 and reflects on the multiple needs for correction–including reparations or course correction–it will be enormously helpful and influential for the New School students and faculty as well as our publics to have proppaNOW’s exemplary work exhibited in New York next fall.”

The Prize carries a cash award of US$25,000 and a limited edition artwork commissioned from Yoko Ono. Additionally, emphasis is placed on the prize as a catalyst for a series of in-depth activities over two years that spawn new scholarship and strengthen teaching and learning opportunities on the role of the arts in advancing social justice. Through an exhibition of the prize-winning project in October 2023, the concurrent Vera List Center Forum 2023, an online and print publication, and other means for dissemination, the Vera List Center aims to foster an ongoing public conversation that engages audiences in New York City, nationally and around the world.

OCCURRENT AFFAIR, the work for which proppaNOW was nominated for the Prize,isa major exhibition featuring new and recent works by the Meanjin/Brisbane-based Aboriginal artist collective. Conceived as a collaborative activist gesture, OCCURRENT AFFAIR addresses current socio-political, economic and environmental issues, while celebrating the strength, resilience and continuity of Aboriginal culture. Originally exhibited at The University of Queensland Art Museum, an interaction of the exhibition is touring Australia with Museums & Galleries of NSW from 2023 to 2025.

An essential part of the Jane Lombard Prize is the cohort of Jane Lombard Fellows, finalists for the prize who will participate in the Vera List Center Forum 2023. Part of a short-term residency in New York, this is an opportunity not only to present their projects to new audiences and further discourse around their politically salient work, but also to connect with the other fellows and their communities.

The inaugural Jane Lombard Prize was awarded in 2012 to Theaster Gates for The Dorchester Projects, the second in 2014 to Abounaddara for their weekly films documenting contemporary life during the Syrian revolution, the third 2016 to Brazilian artist Maria Thereza Alves for her twenty-year project Seeds of Change, the fourth to the Pan-African collective Chimurenga for their Pan-African Space Station, and most recently to Avni Sethi for Conflictorium.

Simone Leigh, chair | New York
Carin Kuoni, ex officio | New York
Cuauhtémoc Medina | México
Wanda Nanibush | Toronto, Canada
Rasha Salti | Beirut; Berlin

Nabila Abdel Nabi | U.K         
Tony Albert | Australia
Meskerem Assegued | Ethiopia
Zach Blas | U.K.; U.S.
Dawn Chan | New York, U.S.
Özge Ersoy | Turkey; Hong Kong
Fatin Farhat | Palestine
Amanda De La Garza Mata | Mexico
Natasha Ginwala | India; Germany
Ariel Malka Goldberg | Chicago, U.S.
Qinyi Lim | Singapore
Lizaveta Matveeva | Russia
Yomna Osman | Egypt; U.S.
Pablo José Ramirez | Guatemala; UK
Nishant Shah | India; The Netherlands
Paulina Varas | Chile

About proppaNOW
Queensland’s leading Aboriginal art collective, proppaNOW was set up in Meanjin/Brisbane in 2003 to give urban-based Aboriginal artists a voice. They present a unique and controversial perspective of black Australia which is sometimes confronting and always thought-provoking. Current members include Vernon Ah Kee, Tony Albert, Richard Bell, Megan Cope, Jennifer Herd, and Gordon Hookey who are all established artists and well respected in their own right. The late founding member Laurie Nilsen is today represented by his daughter, Lily Eather. Collectively, they are an Australian success story.

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics is a research center and a public forum for art, culture, and politics. It was established at The New School in 1992—a time of rousing debates about freedom of speech, identity politics, and society’s investment in the arts. A leader in the field, the center is a nonprofit that serves a critical mission: to foster a vibrant and diverse community of artists, scholars, and policymakers who take creative, intellectual, and political risks to bring about positive change.

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence. 



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