At the Studio Museum in Harlem’s gala at the Javits Center on Wednesday night, Torkwase Dyson, a Brooklyn-based artist who creates abstract compositions that explore the relationships between subjects as varied as the continuity of movement, climate change, architecture, and black spatial justice, was named the winner of the 2019 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize. The annual $50,000 award recognizes the artistic achievements of African American artists who demonstrate great innovation, promise, and creativity.
Through her interdisciplinary practice, Dyson examines the ways in which space is perceived and negotiated by black and brown bodies to highlight environmental racism and black liberation strategies. Currently, a solo show of her work, “1919 Black Water,” is on view at Columbia University’s Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery. She also participated in the 2018 Whitney Biennial and the most recent Sharjah Biennial. Commenting on winning the award, Dyson told Artforum: “I want to thank George Wein and Joyce Alexander Wein for this special prize. And as I go about the world trying to make art work for us, this strengthens my commitment to black spatial justice. I’m so excited for this new sense of belonging.”
The prize was established in 2006 by jazz impresario, musician, and philanthropist George Wein to honor his late wife, Joyce Alexander (1928–2005), a longtime trustee of the museum. Wein conceived of the award as an extension of the institution’s mission to support experimentation and excellence in contemporary art. Past recipients of the honor include Diedrick Brackens, Simone Leigh, Derrick Adams, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby.