Sondheim Finalists Unveil Work at The Walters

Sara Dittrich’s collection, inspired by philosopher Henri Lefebvre, explores how the human body interprets external rhythm.

North Charles Street is known for its charm, history, and of course, The Walters Art Museum, where seven finalists of the 2017 Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize will show their work, from June 17 to Aug. 13.

Finalists Mequitta Ahuja, Mary Anne Arntzen, Cindy Cheng, Sara Dittrich, Benjamin Kelley, Kyle Tata and Amy Yee are competing for a $25,000 fellowship to further their careers as visual artists in the Greater Baltimore area.

Tata, who created an abstract photography series, is a finalist for the second time. His work comments on the “corporatization of people’s personal information.”

“I’m a little bit more calm now, but the past month has been pretty crazy making this work and stuff,” he says. “It feels good to have it raised up on the wall, so now it’s real.”

Kyle Tata used a film mask with a pattern from a security envelope to create photographs that comment on the increasing value of personal information.

The Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA) produces the competition in conjunction with Artscape, the city’s annual arts festival. The show is the climax of a half-year long process, Kim Domanski, who worked in a curatorial capacity through BOPA, says.

Antzen spent the last month working in her studio to create abstract, geometric paintings.

“That was so wonderful to be able to just focus on art for that amount of time, and just be producing and feel good about what I was doing and about what was happening,” she says.

Although the winner won’t be announced until July 15 (following exhibition reviews and interviews with jurors) Ahuja says showing her work at Walters is a prize. She’s very much inspired by America’s origins in the colonial era and black people’s role in the creation of the nation.

“You can see how I’m thinking about history—and I’m thinking about the history of painting—so to be in this museum that is that history, that’s really exciting,” she says.

Mequitta Ahuja’s work, inspired by figurative paintings of the colonial era, reveal the presence of African-Americans and black creatives during that time.

BOPA carefully chooses jurors from outside of Baltimore to give them a taste of the city’s art scene and to give its artists more exposure, Domanski says.

“[Artists] make the city a vibrant, interesting place,” she says. “Artists are great partners for social change, they’re great partners to make our neighborhoods safer, they’re great partners in making the city a better place and a more interesting place to live.”


All photos by Kirstyn Flood.

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