Museum of Arts and Design announces Indira Allegra as winner of 2019 Burke Prize

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Museum of Arts and Design announces Indira Allegra as winner of 2019 Burke Prize
Installation view of Burke Prize 2019 at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York (October 3, 2019 – April 12, 2020). Photo by Jenna Bascom.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Arts and Design announced Indira Allegra as the winner of the 2019 Burke Prize for contemporary craft. Named for craft collectors Marian and Russell Burke, the juried prize constitutes an unrestricted award in the amount of $50,000 given to an artist age forty-five or under working in glass, fiber, clay, metal, or wood. The Burke Prize recognizes the achievements of a young artist who is advancing the mediums and disciplines that shaped the American studio craft movement. The work of Allegra and her fellow finalists for the Burke Prize is on view in MAD’s galleries through April 12, 2020.

“The twenty-first century is turning into a transformative era for the advancement of craft in the United States,” said Chris Scoates, MAD’s Nanette L. Laitman Director. "Artists like Indira are enriching our knowledge of materials and techniques, and expanding their use in innovative ways that break historical barriers. The Museum’s Burke Prize captures this excitement and elevates the emerging voices expanding the field of craft.”

MAD Trustee Marian Burke, who endowed the prize together with her husband, Russell, said: “Rusty and I are delighted to support MAD in highlighting the exemplary works created by the 2019 Burke Prize finalists. We congratulate Indira on this extraordinary achievement. We also congratulate her fellow finalists. All sixteen artists demonstrate the exciting future of the craft movement.”

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Allegra (United States, b. 1980), now based in Oakland, California, makes sculptures, performances, texts, and installations investigating memorial practices and the unseen forces of generational trauma. Using the ideology and methodology of weaving, Allegra explores the intersections of forces, whether they be material, social, or emotional. She activates elements of looms and other weaving tools through movement and dance, using her body as the metaphorical thread to explore political and emotional tensions unspoken in society and carried within the body.

“It is tremendously encouraging that the Burke Prize has so generously recognized what my mind, intuition, and body can offer the field. I am honored,” said Allegra. “This generosity allows me to be more generous with the scale of my inquiry, work, and care for the constellation of art professionals with whom I will work throughout my career.”

Allegra is at the forefront of the performative craft movement which has evolved out of the physical processes of craft. The select works from Allegra’s “BODYWARP” (2017) series, currently on view in MAD’s Burke Prize 2019 exhibition, demonstrate the artist’s thoughtful and intimate choreography between maker, tool, and place. Elevating the process of making, Allegra precipitates connections between the work, the audience, and larger social issues.

A jury of professionals in the fields of art, craft, and design selected Allegra as the winner from hundreds of submissions. The 2019 jurors are Julia Bryan-Wilson, Doris and Clarence Malo Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of California, Berkeley; Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; and Cannupa Hanska Luger, 2018 Burke Prize Winner.

“Allegra embodies the future of craft celebrated by the Burke Prize through tactile investigations of the past that continue to be searingly relevant, activating cloth as a holder of memory to provide cogent and timely critiques of anti-black racism, sexism, and homophobia,” said Bryan-Wilson. “She epitomizes a dynamic, forward-looking orientation to craft that learns from the past in order to speak to the future.”

MAD is currently featuring works by Allegra and her fellow finalists in the accompanying Burke Prize 2019 exhibition, on view through April 12, 2020. The exhibition features thirty works, ranging from ceramics, to fiber and glass. The Burke Prize and exhibition furthers the Museum’s founding mission of championing artists working in craft media and methodologies, bringing attention to the breadth and variety of work being made by young artists from coast to coast.

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