Cauleen Smith and vanessa german have been named the 2022 recipients of the Heinz Award for the Arts. The unrestricted $250,000 cash prize, given annually by the Pittsburgh-based Heinz Family Foundation to “honor individuals whose work and accomplishments are producing an impact that endures,” is one of the world’s largest. Past awardees include Conceptual artist Sanford Biggers, cartoonist Roz Chast, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Rita Dove, and interdisciplinary artist Ralph Lemon, among others.
“This year’s recipients are engaging the arts as a tool for healing,” founder Teresa Heinz said about the winners, who also include individuals who have made significant contributions to the fields of the Economy and the Environment. “We honor them for their courage and resilience, and for the example they set in showing us what individuals can achieve for the betterment of our world.”
The North Carolina-based vanessa german is a visual and performance artist as well as the founder of ARThouse, a space for children to learn artmaking, gardening, reading, theater and play which was open in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh until it was badly damaged in a 2021 fire. (A GoFundMe page has since raised the money to restore it). According to the Heinz Award website, german’s assemblage sculptures, installations, and spoken word works “confront racism, violence, homophobia and hate, while also expressing hope for healing.” Her show “Sad Rapper” is currently on view at Kasmin Gallery in New York City through October 22.
Although perhaps best known as an experimental film- and videomaker, Cauleen Smith has expanded her practice to include installation, sculpture and painting. “Smith’s politics are serious, but even more fundamental to her outlook is an ethic of care, both of oneself and of others,” wrote Siddhartha Mitter in “Waking Life,” his essay on the artist that appeared in Artforum’s May 2019 issue, which also features Smith’s work on the cover. A visiting professor at UCLA Interdisciplinary Studio in the department of Art and Architecture, Smith will take part in the 2023 exhibition “Musical Thinking,” an exploration of the powerful connections between video art and popular music, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.