Phoenix Art Museum presents two exhibitions of work by Arizona-based contemporary artists

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Phoenix Art Museum presents two exhibitions of work by Arizona-based contemporary artists
Gloria Martinez-Granados, Pupil, 2019. Handmade dress, digital print on fabric. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Reggie Casillas.

PHOENIX, AZ.- From September 17 through May 14, 2023, Phoenix Art Museum presents Sama Alshaibi: Generation After Generation and the 2021 Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards exhibitions. The two exhibitions respectively showcase works by the 2021 Arlene and Morton Scult Artist Award recipient, Sama Alshaibi, and the 2021 Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards recipients: Gloria Martinez-Granados, Chris Vena, and Merryn Omotayo Alaka and Sam Frésquez. Featured installations, paintings, mixed-media works, and more explore themes of cultural empowerment, multinational identity, and deep introspection.

“The Scult Artist Award and Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards exemplify one way Phoenix Art Museum is committed to supporting and amplifying contemporary artists inArizona,” said Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “We are elated to present this year's exhibitions and feature works by engaged and impassioned artists representative of our state's rich and diverse community."

Each year, the Arlene and Morton Scult Artist Award recognizes a mid-career Arizona artist. The recipient is chosen from a pool of candidates based on a number of criteria. Eligible candidates are artists who demonstrate artistic excellence through their work; are presently making and exhibiting new work; have demonstrated significant growth in their work over their careers; and have been residents of Arizona for a minimum of four consecutive years. The recipient is then selected based on the work they are currently producing, in addition to pieces they have created in the past. The award includes a monetary prize to support the creation of new work, as well as a solo exhibition at the Museum the following year.

This fall, the 2021 Scult Artist Award recipient, Sama Alshaibi, will exhibit Sama Alshaibi: Generation After Generation, presenting her latest projects of photographic imagery, video, and installation, which link themes of dispossession, mobility, peripheries, refuge, ecological entropy, and future and historical imaginings. As part of her award, the Tucson-based artist and 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient will also present a lecture on her work and practice on September 28, 2022 at Phoenix Art Museum.

Alshaibi’s practice interrogates the social codes found in images, texts, and artifacts to question the construction of history and its impact on a speculative future. Shaped by photography’s historic and outsized role in generating the gendered and flattened representations of Middle Eastern and North African people and their spaces, Alshaibi reframes this legacy by presenting the Arab female figure as a complex site that embodies the physical and psychic realms of the individual and community when resources, land, mobility, and political agency are compromised. Her sculptural objects and installations apply spatial voids to evoke the body’s absence, serving as counter memorials to war, forced migrations, and diaspora.

Also on view this fall, the 2021 Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards exhibition will feature works by emerging artists Gloria Martinez-Granados, Chris Vena, and Merryn Omotayo Alaka and Sam Frésquez. The Sally and Richard Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards (Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards) are presented annually by Phoenix Art Museum to provide recognition and financial support for emerging, professional, Arizona-based artists. Eligible candidates apply through an open call and must be considered emerging artists who are currently working and have resided in Arizona for a minimum of one year, among other requirements. Each recipient receives a grant to support the creation of new work and is invited to participate in a group exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum the year following the award.

Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, and now based in Phoenix, Gloria Martinez Granados migrated at a young age with her family to the United States. Her prints and other works serve as a memoir, reflecting on her experience growing up and living as an undocumented immigrant through digitally manipulated personal documents and photos. Chris Vena’s recent work examines the loneliness and unease of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. His paintings explore themes of loss, isolation, financial insecurity, and mass death. Merryn Omotayo Alaka and Sam Frésquez, who are presenting work jointly, work across media to facilitate conversations around race, gender, and queerness. In their collaborative practice and craftbased processes, they work with pop-culture iconography, contemporary trends, and historical references, tracing the evolution of material culture, including hair, jewelry, and textiles. Their work also examines pre-existing societal hierarchies and racialized and gendered stereotypes to question why their communities have been either undervalued or tokenized in the United States.

“I am excited to be working with this year’s group of artists,” said Gilbert Vicario, the Museum’s curator of contemporary art. “They each, in their own way, possess an incredibly singular aesthetic capacity coupled with a social urgency that connects these Arizona-based artists with deep conversations that are happening on a global scale.”

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