In a quaint corner of West Palm Beach's Norton Museum of Art, art creators and lovers alike joined together to honor five up-and-coming photographers. One, in particular, walked away the recipient of a new photography award, as well as one hefty check.
On December 4, Los Angeles-based photographer Analia Saban was awarded the inaugural Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers and a check for $20,000.
Beth Rudin DeWoody, a Palm Beach resident and daughter of the late real estate developer Lewis Rudin, established the award to both foster new art and honor her father's memory. "The prize is named after my father, an amazing man who never really collected art, but, as he said, collected people," DeWoody remarked during the award ceremony.
The Rudin Prize, which will now be awarded biennially, recognizes emerging photographers on the leading edge of their field, but who have not yet had a solo museum exhibition. An international award, this year's finalists hail from Mexico, Italy, England and the United States. A panel of world-renowned artists nominated the finalists, each selecting one photographer. "Each of these photographers represents a unique and vital approach to the medium and its potential," Tim B. Wride, the curator of photography at Norton, said in a press release.
The Museum's Photography Committee, made up of Norton curators, collectors and trustees, adjudicated the exhibition and selected a winner. In the end, 32-year-old Analia Saban took home the top prize.
"Analia Saban is leading the field in inventive, engaging new work," said Wride. "She provides visually elegant and philosophically potent answers to the issues of photography's materiality and meaning that have dogged the medium since its beginnings."
Argentinian by way of Los Angeles, Saban holds a BFA in visual arts from Loyola University and a MFA in new genres from the University of California, Los Angeles. Saban's work (predominantly monochromatic prints, in the case of the Rudin exhibition) requires a double take due to her manipulation of materials. She constructs three-dimensional pieces by scraping the photographic emulsion and redeploying it across the canvas. In doing so, Saban uses her original medium (photography) to create a new drawing material.
Scrapped (Family), a 2011 print, exemplifies Saban's aesthetic. Traces of the original photograph bleed into Saban's manipulations; what was once a family portrait becomes something else entirely. Swimming Pool (2012) also illustrates this innovative technique. Starting with a photograph of a swimming pool as a base, Saban uses photographic emulsion to mimic ripples in the water. As a whole, Saban's work depicts a certain level of sensitivity to the materials used, one that speaks volumes to her innovation and integrity as an artist.
Works from all five finalists are on display through December 11. Following the close of the exhibit, the Norton Museum of Art will acquire work from each artist, including two pieces (Grid and Folded Horizon) by Saban. In this way, the Rudin Prize guarantees an influx of new material by emerging artists into the museum every two years. This effort reflects Norton's commitment to supporting living artists and building a strong arts community in West Palm Beach.
To learn more about the 2012 Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers, visit Norton.org.