Raven Chacon is the inaugural Ree Kaneko Award winner

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Raven Chacon is the inaugural Ree Kaneko Award winner
Postcommodity, Do You Remember When?, 2009; Site-specific intervention and mixed media installation (cut concrete, exposed earth, light, sound); Installation view, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 18th Biennale of Sydney; Courtesy of the artist and Postcommodity.

OMAHA, NEB.- Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts announced that Raven Chacon is its first Ree Kaneko Award winner. As part of Bemis Center’s 40th anniversary, the organization increased and renamed its annual Alumni Award in honor of Ree Kaneko, Bemis Center co-founder, first Executive Director and Board Member Emerita. Her vision and passion embody the spirit of this unrestricted annual award designed to provide financial support to increase the capacity of a Bemis alum’s practice. Established in 2019 at $5,000, the Ree Kaneko Award is $25,000 thanks to individual donors. The annual award is by nomination only and is selected by a panel of renowned curators and art historians.

"I am very honored and humbled to receive the inaugural Ree Kaneko Award. The months I spent at the Bemis residency were highly productive for me, and was a beautiful time to connect with other visiting artists as well as those locally who make Omaha a site of creativity," said Chacon.

Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and installation artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. As a solo artist, collaborator, or with Postcommodity, Chacon has exhibited or performed at Whitney Biennial, documenta 14, REDCAT, Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Chaco Canyon, Ende Tymes Festival, 18th Biennale of Sydney and The Kennedy Center. Each year, he teaches 20 students to write string quartets for the Native American Composer Apprenticeship Project (NACAP). He is the recipient of the United States Artists Fellowship in Music, The Creative Capital Award in Visual Arts, The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation artist fellowship and the American Academy’s Berlin Prize for Music Composition. He lives in Albuquerque, NM.

"I am very honored to have this award given in my name, as a founder and the director of Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts for 20 years. It's a perfect gesture to highlight my passion for supporting artists, which I have done the majority of my professional life," said Ree Kaneko. "I'm very excited to see how this award will continue to serve our alumni and artists that have worked with the Bemis over the 40 years of its growth and success."

Chacon was Bemis Center's inaugural Sound Art and Experimental Music Artist-in-Residence May-August 2019 and provided valuable expertise and guidance on how to best support artists within the field. Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts launched its Sound Art + Experimental Music Program in May 2019 with generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Embedded within Bemis Center’s renowned international Residency Program, this program offers a unique experience for artists working in sound, composition, voice, and experimental music. Chacon also co-curated Inner Ear Vision: Sound as Medium, on view at Bemis Center July 11, 2019–September 14, 2019, along with artists Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and art historian Maria Elena Buszek, as part of the events surrounding the launch of the program.

"Over the past few years, Raven Chacon's authentic artistic voice and expertise has profoundly influenced Bemis's programs, especially with his involvement in launching our sound art program," said Chris Cook, Bemis Center Executive Director. "I am thrilled the jurors selected him to be the first recipient of the Ree Kaneko Award. Their decision is warranted on so many levels and I'm proud Bemis can give back to him in this meaningful way."

Bemis alumni artists were nominated for the 2021 Ree Kaneko Award and the winner was selected by Carla Acevedo-Yates, Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Andrea Andersson, Founding Director and Chief Curator, Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought; Franklin Sirmans, Director, Pérez Art Museum Miami; and Rachel Adams, Chief Curator and Director of Programs, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE.

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