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Smithsonian American Art Museum Announces Lucelia Artist Award Winner for 2002

Contact: Laura Baptiste BaptisteL[at]
Tel: (202) 275-1595
American Art's Web site:
Recorded information: (202) 633-8998

NEW YORK, April 9—The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced today that Liz Larner is the second annual winner of the Lucelia Artist Award, established by the museum in 2001 to encourage leading contemporary American artists.

"The Smithsonian American Art Museum sends a vibrant message of support to contemporary artists by establishing this beneficial award," said Larner. "The Lucelia Artist Award will make a significant difference in my life by allowing me more time in my studio to explore new ideas."

"The Lucelia Artist Award grants an accomplished young artist, such as Liz Larner, the freedom to try something bold and new," said Elizabeth Broun, the museum's Margaret and Terry Stent Director. "In her most recent work, Larner takes advantage of new technologies to create monumental sculptures, and I hope this award—part of the museum's support for contemporary American artists—encourages her exploration."

An independent panel of jurors chose Larner for the award in recognition of her outstanding sculptural work that uses the formal roots of modernism to question traditional notions of space and volume.

"Continually exploring new directions and rethinking ideas, Larner has shown herself to be a risk-taking, innovative artist with a non-formulaic approach to growth and creativity," wrote the Lucelia Artist Award jurors in their statement. "The Lucelia Artist Award pays tribute to the excellence of her past achievements and expresses confidence in her future development and experimental vitality."

The five jurors who selected the winner were: Bonnie Clearwater, director and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami; Matthew Drutt, chief curator at the Menil Collection in Houston; Russell Ferguson, deputy director for exhibitions and programs and chief curator at the UCLA Hammer Museum; Elizabeth Murray, contemporary artist; and Jerry Saltz, art critic at the Village Voice. Sidra Stich is the Lucelia Artist Award executive director and director of art•SITES, a series of contemporary art, architecture and design handbooks.

"Larner's work defies identification as either installation or sculpture," said Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, chief curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. "Larner creates the illusion of form without mass in her work with an animated line that is distinctly hers, while examining the perception of space and how it is defined by the viewer's relationship to the piece."


Larner was born in Sacramento, Calif. in 1960. In 1985, she received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the California Institute of Arts, Valencia. Currently, she lives and works in Los Angeles and teaches at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. Regen Projects in Los Angeles and 303 Gallery in New York City represent Larner.

Early in her career, Larner examined issues of transformation and decay in a series of petri dish cultures that she also photographed. Her subsequent installations and sculptures address the way an object defines the space it occupies and transforms the viewer's perception of that space. Larner's work has been widely shown in the United States and Europe, particularly in Austria, Germany and France. In 1999 she won a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles recently organized a retrospective of her work.

The Lucelia Artist Award was established to recognize annually an American artist under the age of 50 who has produced a significant body of artwork that demonstrates exceptional creativity. The $25,000 award is intended to encourage the artist's future development and experimentation. The inaugural winner in 2001 was Jorge Pardo of Los Angeles.

The award winner is determined by a panel of five jurors selected from across the United States, each with a wide knowledge of contemporary American art through experience as an artist, critic, author, curator or collector. Jurors each nominate five artists and remain anonymous until the winner is announced. Applications are not accepted for this award.

The New York-based Lucelia Foundation, which funds the award, supports the visual arts, specifically 19th-century American and contemporary art.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection began with gifts of art donated to the federal government in 1829 and has evolved into the world's most important American art holdings with approximately 39,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, photographs, folk art and contemporary crafts.

While the renovation of the museum's historic home—the Patent Office Building—continues, American Art offers a full program of exhibitions at its Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W.). For information about Renwick Gallery activities, call (202) 357-2700. Please visit the museum's award-winning Web site at