Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize winner: Rodney McMillian

The Contemporary Austin, Austin / USA

November 1, 2016

The Contemporary Austin
700 Congress Ave 
Austin, TX 78701

Rodney McMillian will receive an unrestricted award of 100,000 USD along with a solo exhibition and scholarly publication.

The Contemporary Austin is pleased to announce that artist Rodney McMillian is the winner of the first Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize. In addition to receiving the award in the amount of 100,000 USD, he will receive a solo exhibition at the museum’s downtown venue, the Jones Center, with the option to extend the exhibition to the museum’s 14-acre outdoor site, the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria. A publication and public programming will also accompany the exhibition, which is scheduled to open to the public on February 3, 2018. 

McMillian has worked in a range of mediums and materials, including sculpture, painting, video, performance, and immersive environments, to explore themes of class, gender, race, social history, and culture. His work  integrates found and scavenged materials—what the artist has labeled “post-consumer objects”—as well as techniques of interactivity and performativity, resulting in unique forms with a deep relevance to their context and time. “An award such as this can enable an artist to reimagine what is possible for one’s practice or one’s self,” says winner Rodney McMillian. “In some cases, it could actually be a lifeline. I am very honored and thrilled to be a recipient. Thank you to Ms. Booth, The Contemporary Austin, and the advisory committee.” 

McMillian was selected by an independent advisory committee made up of renowned curators and art historians from across the U.S. Led by Heather Pesanti, Senior Curator of The Contemporary Austin, this year’s inaugural advisory committee included Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator and Head of Modern Art Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Naomi Beckwith, Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Peter Eleey, Chief Curator, MoMA PS1; Hamza Walker, Executive Director, LAXART; and Heidi Zuckerman, Nancy and Bob Magoon CEO and Director, Aspen Art Museum. 

“It’s been an incredible learning experience to be part of laying the groundwork and process for the inaugural Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize. The opportunity that the prize and its correlated resources present to the artist have the potential to be immeasurable and profound,” states Senior Curator Heather Pesanti. “Rodney is at the perfect moment in his career for this prize, an artist who has been well exhibited and respected in the field, but for whom the resources provided through this opportunity will ideally be a catalyst for new paths in his work.” 

“In establishing this prize for The Contemporary Austin, my hope was to reinforce the museum’s mission of transformation: first and foremost the Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize intends to be transformative for the selected artist, but beyond that, for the institution and the community,” says founder of the prize Suzanne Deal Booth. “The selection of Rodney McMillian reflects the guidance and decision of an exemplary advisory committee of curators from around the country who allowed us to broaden our reach. As the patron, I look forward to witnessing the project as it unfolds, and to seeing the dynamic possibilities that Rodney brings to the museum and the city of Austin.”

“The Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize brings both established and emerging talent—from the U.S. and abroad—to audiences here in Central Texas and visitors from around the world,” says Louis Grachos, Ernest and Sarah Butler Executive Director and CEO of The Contemporary Austin. “When I joined The Contemporary in 2013, my goal was to bring in artists and exhibitions that added to the ongoing dialogue in the contemporary art world. We are so privileged to administer this prize—built through the forward-thinking generosity of Suzanne Deal Booth—which aligns with the institution’s mission to reflect the spectrum of contemporary art through thoughtful exhibitions, commissions, and educational programs. On behalf of The Contemporary, I am very pleased to be working with Suzanne, Heather Pesanti, and our esteemed advisory committee to help realize and ultimately present McMillian’s work in 2018.”