Among the winners at last night’s ceremony for United States Artists (USA) were architects Neil Denari, Laura Kurgan, and architect/activist Rick Lowe. The $50,000 unrestricted awards are given each year “to ignite the creativity that makes this country great,” according to the organization’s website. USA was started in 2005 with seed money from the Rockefeller, Ford, Prudential, and Ramuson foundations to support artists in the wake of dwindling public funding for the arts.
They praised Denari as a “leading voice in the pedagogy and practice of contemporary architecture,” and commended him for showing that “progressive ideology is buildable.”
Kurgan’s work employs “data network information and uses it as a visual device to inform and educate the general public on social issues and their physical implications to the built environment.”
The jurors referred to Texas-based Lowe as “an artist, architect, urban designer, developer, businessman, and activist who is a catalyst for social outreach for underserved neighborhoods.” They praised his Project Row House as a “template for others to follow on how to bring local people together to engage their own creative energies and aesthetic values to produce a ‘collective expression’ to reinstate a community.”
The fashion designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte were also given an award by the design committee.
The Architecture and Design selection committee includes Art Institute of Chicago’s Curatorial Chair for Architecture and Design, Joe Rosa, Mabel O. Wilson, a professor of architecture at Columbia, Peter Zellner, architect and principal of ZELLNERPLUS in Los Angeles, Karen Fiss, a professor of visual studies at the Califonia College of the Arts in San Francisco, and Stephen Burks, director of ReadyMade Projects in New York.