Hamza Walker, Director of Education and Associate Curator of The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago

Congratulations to Hamza Walker, curator at The Renaissance Society — it has just been announced that he’s won the Ordway Prize from Creative Link for the Arts and the New Museum! Walker, along with artist Artur Zmijewski, will receive an unrestricted award of $100,000. Here’s the text of the announcement in full:

“Creative Link for the Arts and the New Museum have announced Hamza Walker, the Director of Education and Associate Curator at Chicago’s Renaissance Society, and Polish artist Artur Zmijewski, as the recipients of the Ordway Prize. An international panel of Nominators and a Jury of leading arts world figures-led by Jennifer McSweeney, Director of Creative Link for the Arts, and Richard Flood, Chief Curator at the New Museum-selected the Ordway Prize recipients from a global pool of nominees. Walker and Zmijewski will each receive an unrestricted cash prize of $100,000.

“Working with artists is a reward in itself, and I feel privileged at being so generously honored for my passion. I wish I had a grand vision for the award, but as it stands, the bricks and mortar of my life are in severe need of tuckpointing,” said Hamza Walker.

“I was happy to be nominated for the Ordway Prize, but winning was quite unexpected. My art is important to me, and now it has been recognized by others in a significant way and that pleases me immensely. The considerable amount of money that comes with this award will surely help to realize my future projects,” said Artur Zmijewski.

The Ordway Prize is named for the naturalist, philanthropist, and arts patron Katherine Ordway. The prize acknowledges the contributions of a Curator/Arts Writer and an Artist whose work has had significant impact on the field of contemporary art, but who has yet to receive broad public recognition. Nominees for the Ordway Prize are midcareer talents between the ages of forty and sixty-five, with a developed body of work extending over a minimum of fifteen years.

Jennifer McSweeney, Director of Creative Link for the Arts, noted that “the award honors past achievements, but it is equally dedicated to future promise. Hamza Walker’s and Artur Zmijewski’s work investigates and reveals the possibilities of humanity and is dedicated to celebrating life with all its limitations and aspirations. Both use their immeasurable talents to expose the frailties and conundrums that challenge mankind’s psyche, all the while giving hope to the viewer via the enlightenment offered by their difficult and honest questions.”

Richard Flood, Chief Curator at the New Museum said, “It’s very easy to fall in love with the young and reward them for being young. It’s a different thing to reward contributors like Hamza and Artur who have quietly and steadfastly dedicated their lives to the continuity of creativity. The Ordway Prize is a way of saying thank you for holding down the fort and moving the conversation forward; thank you for changing the way we understand the world.”

The Ordway Prize is the only unrestricted international award of this caliber that recognizes a Curator/Arts Writer and it is also one of the most generous awards given to a contemporary Artist. Past Ordway Prize recipients have included: Curator/Arts Writer Ralph Rugoff and Artist Doris Salcedo (2006); and Curator/Arts Writer James Elaine and Artist Cildo Meireles (2008).


Ordway Prize Winner: Curator/Arts Writer
Hamza Walker
was born in 1966 in New York City, and currently lives in Chicago, where he is the Director of Education and Associate Curator for the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. He is also on the faculty of The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. He has written for Trans, New Art Examiner, Parkett, and Artforum, and penned catalogue essays on Darren Almond, Rebecca Morris, Giovanni Anselmo, Thomas Hirschhorn, Moshekwa Langa, and Katharina Grosse. Walker’s most recent exhibition at the Renaissance Society, a solo exhibition of photographs by Chicago-based artist Anna Shteynshleyger, is currently on view through February 14, 2010. He will also organize the first United States exhibition of works by Antwerp native Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven in 2010. Past curatorial projects at the Renaissance Society include “Several Silences” (2009); “Black Is, Black Ain’t” (2008); “Katerina Sedá” (2008); “Meanwhile, in Baghdad” (2007); “All the Pretty Corpses” (2005); “A Perfect Union…More or Less” (2004); and “New Video, New Europe” (2004). Walker currently is on the boards of Noon, a literary annual publishing short fiction; Lampo, a new and experimental-music presenter; and The Chicago Public Art Group. Prior to his work at the Renaissance Society, Walker was the Public Art Coordinator for the City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs. He has served on numerous panels locally and internationally, and is the recipient of the 1999 Norton Curatorial Grant and the 2005 Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement.

Ordway Prize Winner: Artist
Artur Zmijewski
was born in 1966 in Warsaw, Poland, where he currently lives and works. Most recently, Zmijewski presented a selection of works for the Museum of Modern Art’s “Projects 91” series. His latest film, Sculpture Plein-air. Swiecie 2009, which premiered as part of “Projects 91”, records one of a series of staged workshops organized and documented by the artist in which the participants are invited to create art. ?mijewski asked seven artists from different parts of Poland to collaborate with steel workers in Swiecie, a small city disengaged from the contemporary art world, to create and install public sculptures. The project was modeled after similar collaborations between artists and workers in Elblag, Poland, in the late 1960s, which were inspired by utopian goals of a classless society and the union of art making and industrial technology. In 2009, the Cornerhouse presented the artist’s first major United Kingdom survey. In 2008, Zmijewski showed Oko za Oko (An Eye for an Eye) in the New Museum’s “After Nature” exhibition. In 2007-08, he was a DAAD Artists in Residence in Berlin, Germany. Zmijewski participated in Documenta 12 in 2007, and Manifesta 4 in 2002. In 2005, his film Repetition was shown in the Polish Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale. In 2000, he was given the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Per L’Arte Prize for Oko za Oko. He studied at the Faculty of Sculpture of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw from 1990-95, and received his diploma from the studio of Professor Grzegorz Kowalski in 1995.

Creative Link for the Arts is a privately funded nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating partnership in philanthropy and forging innovative relationships between art institutions, nonprofits, corporations, and philanthropists interested in supporting the arts and creating a cultural legacy.

Founded in 1977, the New Museum is a leading destination for new art and new ideas. It is Manhattan’s only dedicated contemporary art museum and is respected internationally for the adventurousness and global scope of its curatorial program. For more information, visit newmuseum.org.”