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Kandis Williams Receives 2020 Mohn Award

Kandis Williams, photo by Ezra Petronio; Fulton Leroy Washington (MR. WASH), photo by Theo Ponchaveli; Monica Majoli, photo by Kathryn Vetter Miller.

The Hammer Museum has announced that Kandis Williams will receive the $100,000 Mohn Award honoring artistic excellence, in conjunction with Made in L.A. 2020: a version. The museum will also produce a monograph of Williams’s work as part of the Mohn Award. Monica Majoli will receive the Career Achievement Award honoring brilliance and resilience, and Fulton Leroy Washington (MR. WASH) will receive the Public Recognition Award, as chosen by visitors to the Made in L.A. 2020 exhibition at both the Hammer Museum and The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Majoli and MR. WASH will each receive $25,000.

Funded by Los Angeles philanthropists and art collectors Jarl and Pamela Mohn, the Mohn Awards have been given to artists with each edition of the Made in L.A. biennial, which began in 2012. In conjunction with this year’s awards, the Mohns have committed an additional $5.15 million to create two endowments to support future Mohn Awards, the Made in L.A. exhibitions, and acquisitions of emerging or under-recognized artists.

“Kandis Williams challenges the status quo with not only her art practice but also in her writing and publishing work. The Mohn Award celebrates the clarity and strength of her polymath voice,” said Ann Philbin, Director of the Hammer Museum. “The Career Achievement Award recognizes Monica Majoli’s contributions as an integral part of the Los Angeles art community as artist and teacher. And it’s no surprise that MR. WASH’s heartfelt paintings resonated with our visitors who voted him their favorite artist for the Public Recognition Award. We are thrilled to honor these three artists and their work. I am also full of gratitude for Jarl and Pamela Mohn, who have been so committed to the Los Angeles art community through their continuing support of Made in L.A. and this incredible trio of awards.”

“It’s been great to co-present Made in L.A. 2020 and engage these remarkable contemporary artists within our galleries and through public programs,” said Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence. “We encourage visitors to visit the biennial in its final weeks and enjoy The Huntington, the Hammer, and off-site installations.”

“It is still so exhilarating to discover new art and artists through each edition of Made in L.A. After five iterations, Pamela and I remain unwaveringly dedicated to supporting emerging L.A. artists by funding these awards and supporting the exhibition. Our gift will ensure the Mohn Awards and biennials continue to be an important part of that support system for the brilliant Made in L.A. artists.” said Jarl Mohn.

Made in L.A. 2020: a version was organized by independent curators Myriam Ben Salah and Lauren Mackler, with the Hammer’s Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi, assistant curator of performance, in partnership with The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. The exhibition is on view through August 1, 2021.

A jury of professional curators, including Jamillah James, senior curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA); Mia Locks, independent curator; and Diana Nawi, independent curator, selected the Mohn Award and the Career Achievement Award. The jury stated, “The last year has furthered our belief in artists not just as creators but also as active participants in the larger world of art, politics, and culture around them. Each of the awarded artists has an incredible individual practice as well as a vital role in caring for and cultivating their communities. Made in L.A. has long had an ethos that reflects the generosity of exchange that is possible in this city, and this selection of artists embodies the beautifully interdependent nature of cultural production in Los Angeles.”

The Public Recognition Award was determined by visitors to the Hammer Museum and The Huntington. More than 60,000 people have visited the exhibition so far and had the opportunity to vote for their favorite artist in the biennial.

“Kandis Williams’s works are revelatory, holding an intense spectrum of human experience and emotion. Her densely layered collages contend with the pleasures and horrors of representation, and the deep histories of racialized and gendered violence. Her collages at the Huntington, in particular, which were created specifically for the show, resonated with us for their attention to the fraught histories of colonial exploration and modern scientific discovery and attention to their context. This award is in recognition not only of Williams’s studio practice, but also of her role as a writer, editor, cultural commentator, and public intellectual. In the past few years, she has really distinguished herself as someone whose thinking can help us contend with the current moment, the histories that brought us here, and, importantly, point a way forward, ” stated the Made in L.A. 2020 jury.

In reference to the Career Achievement Award, the jury wrote, “Monica Majoli’s work keeps history alive by experimenting with the display of archival materials alongside newly created works. Her breathtaking installations in Made in L.A. shows us the profound potential of vulnerability to bring us together. Her works on paper are tender, intimate, and seductive, revealing sex and self-presentation as acts of beauty and connection. Majoli is also a deeply respected educator and mentor to many younger artists, and her influence has touched so many artists working in Los Angeles and beyond.”

The Mohn Award is among the largest art prizes in the world. The award, along with the Career Achievement Award and Public Recognition Award, is dedicated to recognizing the work of emerging and under-recognized artists based in greater Los Angeles. In 2018, Lauren Halsey received the Mohn Award, Daniel Joseph Martinez received the Career Achievement Award, and EJ Hill received the Public Recognition Award. In 2016, dancer Adam Linder received the Mohn Award, Wadada Leo Smith received the Career Achievement Award, and Kenzi Shiokava received the Public Recognition Award. In 2014, Alice Könitz received the Mohn Award, Magdalena Suarez Frimkess and Michael Frimkess received the Career Achievement Award, and Jennifer Moon received the Public Recognition Award. And in 2012 Meleko Mokgosi received the Mohn Award, which was selected by both a professional jury and the public.

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