Congratulations to two Duke University Press contributors, Wangechi Mutu and Willie Burch, who have won $50,000 fellowships from United States Artists. United States Artists (USA) invests in the fundamental value individual artists contribute to American society. Representing eight creative disciplines, the award recognizes America’s most accomplished and innovative artists.
Wangechi Mutu's first solo show in the U.S., Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey, began its nationwide tour at Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art in 2013. Duke University Press published the gorgeous full-color catalog for the show. It is now featured at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1972, and now based in Brooklyn, Mutu renders the complex global sensibility of the early twenty-first century through a distinctly hybrid aesthetic. She combines found materials and magazine cutouts with sculpture and painted imagery, sampling from sources and phenomena as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the fashion industry, and science fiction. In her work, Mutu marries poetic symbolism with sociopolitical critique to explore issues of gender, race, war, colonialism, and, particularly, the exoticization of the black female body.
Willie Birch's striking black and white illustrations of New Orleans musicians bring the characters in Matt Sakakeeny's 2013 book Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans to life. Birch is an international artist who lives in New Orleans, where he was born in 1942. Birch received his BA from Southern University New Orleans in 1969 and his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 1973. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the State of Louisiana Governor's award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His works are part of the permanent collections of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Congratulations to these two talented artists!