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Museum of Arts and Design announces Cannupa Hanska Luger as winner of the inaugural Burke Prize
Cannupa Hanska Luger. Photo by Jenna Bascom; courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Arts and Design announced Cannupa Hanska Luger as the winner of the inaugural Burke Prize for contemporary craft. Named for craft collectors Marian and Russell Burke, the prize constitutes an unrestricted award in the amount of $50,000, given annually to an artist age forty-five or under working in glass, fiber, clay, metal, or wood. Luger is the first recipient of the Burke Prize, which recognizes the achievements of a young artist working in and advancing the media and disciplines that shaped the American studio craft movement for which the Museum was founded.

MAD Trustee Marian Burke, who endowed the prize together with her husband, Russell, said: "This first iteration of the Burke Prize has been more successful than we could have hoped. Rusty and I congratulate Cannupa on this outstanding achievement. We also congratulate his fellow finalists, all fifteen of whom are impressive representatives of the future of craft. MAD's destiny is sure to be exciting!"

"Honoring an artist like Cannupa reinforces MAD's commitment to illuminating for our visitors the breadth and variety of works being made by young artists nationwide, not just in the major city centers," said Shannon R. Stratton, MAD's William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator. "We are endlessly inspired by his commitment to creating art and projects that directly and urgently impact people's lives."

A multidisciplinary artist of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian, and Norwegian descent, Cannupa Hanska Luger (United States, b. 1979) was raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, which also serves as the site for several of his works and performances. His work includes community-based projects that focus on issues facing indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada, often addressing environmental issues such as land and water protections, as well as the high rate of assaults and other violent crimes committed against female, queer, and trans members of indigenous populations.

"The Burke Prize is a complete honor to receive, and it has provided critical validation to the direction my practice is heading," said Luger. "Receiving this award supports the future of my work in creating monumental installations which emerge from diverse communal engagements. I am grateful, and I look forward to what is next."

Luger's interests lie in creating monumental installations that incorporate ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel, and cut paper. He activates his work through performance elements and political activism in order to communicate stories about twenty-first-century indigeneity. Often incorporating calls to action, Luger's multifaceted projects provoke diverse publics to engage with indigenous people and values outside the lens of colonial social structuring. Through his work, he places emphasis on his role as an indigenous maker in the current era. The artist states:

I define craft differently than most institutions or craft practitioners. My exposure to craft is colored by my Indigeneity. The process of surviving in the world as an Indigenous maker is unlike the survival of other craftspeople; the preservation of our people feels urgent and is deeply tied to the survival of our craft traditions.

Mirror Shield Project (2016), of which two components are currently on view at MAD as part of The Burke Prize 2018: The Future of Craft Part 2, exemplifies Luger's focus on craft as a community endeavor. The project began as an instructional video, teaching viewers how to make a mirror shield out of plywood and reflective Mylar. Participants were invited to send the mirror shields to the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) camp at Standing Rock, for use during the 2016 demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In addition to Mirror Shield Project: Mirror Shield (2016), the exhibition at MAD features the video Mirror Shield Project: Water Serpent (2016), which documents the use of the mirror shields by the water protectors at Standing Rock in a performance organized by the artist.

Also on view is the installation Every One (2018), which likewise began as an instructional video, this time for Luger's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Queer and Trans People (MMIWQT) Bead Project. The video invited communities across the United States and Canada to create and donate two-inch clay beads, which Luger fired, stained, and strung together to make a monumental curtain. Each handmade bead in Every One is a memorial to one of the four thousand cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, queer and trans people in Canada, thereby humanizing the statistics of the lost members of the indigenous community and bringing awareness to a long history of violence.

The Burke Prize winner was determined by a jury of professionals who demonstrate unparalleled expertise in the fields of art, craft, and design. The 2018 jurors are Michael Radyk, Director of Education for the American Craft Council and Editor in Chief of the journal American Craft Inquiry; Jenni Sorkin, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and Namita Gupta Wiggers, Director of the Master of Arts in Critical and Historical Craft Studies at Warren Wilson College, North Carolina.

"Cannupa Hanska Luger exemplifies craft as connected to the past as much as to the future," said Wiggers. "He employs a range of materials, many of which break traditional associations with craft, while still attending to careful making that is as much about form and process as it is content. Most of all, for me, he shows us a contemporary moment in which craft enables indigeneity and modernity to occupy the same space."

In conjunction with the award, MAD is featuring works by Luger and his fellow finalists in the exhibition The Burke Prize 2018: The Future of Craft Part 2, on view through March 17, 2019. The exhibition includes thirty-five works, ranging from jewelry to installation, furniture, and digital media. Representing nine states and thirteen cities across the United States, the winner and the fifteen finalists comprise an ethnically and racially diverse group with an equitable gender breakdown. The Burke Prize and exhibition continue 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 nationwide.

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