Houston, TX – Artadia is pleased to announce the Awardees for the 2017 Houston Artadia Awards: Regina Agu and Kaneem Smith. As the 2017 Houston Artadia Awardees, Agu and Smith will receive $10,000 in unrestricted funds, as well as access to the ongoing benefits of the Artadia Awards program. This is Artadia’s eighth time providing unrestricted Awards to artists in Houston since the first Houston Artadia Awards in 2003. The 2017 Awards application was open to visual artists living in Harris County, TX for over two years, working in all media, and at any stage of their careers. Agu and Smith join an exalted group of 61 artists who have received the Houston Artadia Award.

In the first round of jurying, Ryan N. Dennis, Public Art Director and Curator, Project Row Houses, Houston, TX; Claire Gilman, Senior Curator, The Drawing Center, New York, NY; and Los Angeles-based artist Ryan Trecartin selected five Finalists: Regina Agu, Catherine Colangelo, Gabriel Martinez, Kaneem Smith, and Sarah Welch.

Evan Garza, Director, Rice Public Art, Rice University, joined Dennis for the second round of jurying, conducting studio visits with the five Finalists to determine the Awardees.

“I am so happy to have spent the day visiting studios with my colleague Evan Garza. We were impressed with all the candidates and know that while all couldn’t be awarded this time around, there will be opportunity in the future,” Dennis said. Garza also expressed his excitement about the Finalists: “Sarah Welch, Catherine Colangelo, and Gabriel Martinez each demonstrated incredible skill and exceptional promise. Each artist is deserving of further recognition and they represent the incredible caliber and disciplinary diversity of contemporary practice in Houston.”

Dennis said of the Awardees: “Regina Agu and Kaneem Smith represent two dynamic women working in different mediums, but both are very focused and articulated the vision of their work with grace and passion. Regina, an artist that has a collaborative spirit, is informed by deep research and presents text-based work along with collage and photography, and is weaving narratives together in a refreshing way. Kaneem, who moves between sculpture and fiber works, pushes the viewer to think about African American history and the Diaspora poetically and powerfully. I could not be more thrilled to award these two artists and look forward to seeing what they accomplish with this support.”

Garza stated: “Regina Agu and Kaneem Smith are incredibly deserving of the Houston Artadia Awards. Each artist is spectacularly focused in her respective practice, demonstrating skill, exceptional critical rigor and thought, and whose works are pioneering and impressive in subject and presentation. Artadia is fortunate to be able to provide these artists with the recognition and support they so deserve.” He also elaborated on the jurying process: “I’m grateful to Artadia for the opportunity to meet and award some of Houston’s most talented artists. As a new member of Houston’s curatorial community, Artadia made it possible for me to get to know these artists and their exciting work.”

Artadia is now holding Awards cycles in each one of its program cities every year, allowing the organization to provide more consistent support to distinct arts communities across the United States. The 2018 Houston application will be open from April 15 – May 15.

The 2017 Houston Artadia Awards are generously supported by The Brown Foundation, the Houston Endowment, Artadia’s Board of Directors, and Council members.

Image, from left to right: Regina Agu, Sea Change (installation view at Project Row Houses), 2016, vinyl print, 80 x 6 feet; Kaneem Smith, (left to right) Reap and Sow, 2014, linen, encaustic wax, cotton bolls 4 x 5 x 3 inches; Wring Out, 2014, green cotton, burlap, encaustic wax.