The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation are pleased to announce that Sanford Biggers, 2010 Winner of the Greenfield Prize and its first visual art recipient, has installed his commission at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL. The exhibition Codex will be on display until October 14, 2012. The exhibit was inspired by Harriet Tubman and quilts used to signify safe houses along the underground railway. Clouds, stars and constellations are interspersed throughout the work, symbolic of those used by slaves as they found their way to freedom.
“I’ve not exhibited paintings or drawings for 15 years,” shared Biggers, an interdisciplinary artist, at the opening. “This project brought me back to those roots. The quilts, many donated to me by descendants of slave owners, were very inspiring to work with. The clouds are made from raw cotton grown in North Carolina. All my work is created from personal experiences. My hope is always that others will see it as a gateway, develop their own message and feel a part of the art.”
Dr. Matthew McLendon, the Ringling Museum’s associate curator of modern and contemporary art, added, “Codex plays a significant role in the continued maturation of Sanford Biggers’ work. Here we see the artist reconfiguring symbolism he has used before in three-dimensional forms through the return to his earliest form of expression, painting. As such, the works in Codex offer an unprecedented chance to see Biggers in the process of evolving his artistic practice.”
The Greenfield Prize was established in 2009 by longtime Sarasota residents Bob and Louise Greenfield through the Philadelphia-based Greenfield Foundation. The prize is a means by which a groundbreaking, enduring work of art will be created by a commissioned artist within two years of receiving the award. According to Bob Greenfield, “the intention of the Greenfield Prize is to bring into the world works of art that will have a significant impact on the broad as well as the artistic culture of our society.” Winners are rotated within three disciplines: theater, music, and visual art. The Prize consists of a $30,000 commission of an original work of art, a residency at the Hermitage, and a partnership with a professional arts organization to develop the work and assistance in moving the work forward into the American arts world.
“The Hermitage Artist Retreat is a big organization in a deceptively small package,” remarked Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers. “Beautifully situated on 8.5 acres on the Gulf of Mexico, we offer an amazingly inspiring environment in which to create art. We offer only invited residencies, selected by distinguished arts leaders in all disciplines. Some of the world’s busiest and most in demand artists are finding their way to us. The Greenfield Prize is a special opportunity to encourage new art making by commissioning a project of the artist’s choice. The results in the four short years since its inception have already been staggering. We look forward to continuing to support great artists in their quest to create important work.”
A distinguished seven-person panel consisting of some of the most highly respected authorities in American art select each Greenfield Prize recipient. Three voting members on each jury are joined by a producing partner representative, Joni Greenfield of the Greenfield Foundation, Hermitage Greenfield Prize Director Patricia Caswell and Hermitage Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers who facilitates. Jury for the Biggers selection included Chair Dan Cameron, chief curator Orange County Museum of Art, Franklin Sirmans, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) curator and artistic director of the Prospect.3 biennial and Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, Aspen Art Museum CEO, director and chief curator. In addition to Biggers, other prizewinners have been playwrights Craig Lucas (2009) and John Guare (2011), and composers Eve Beglarian (2009) and Vijay Iyer (2012).