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Nancy Chunn Wins Artists’ Legacy Foundation’s $25,000 Artist Award

The Artists’ Legacy Foundation of Oakland, California, has chosen Nancy Chunn as the recipient of its 2018 Artist Award. Established in 2007, the $25,000 merit prize is awarded to a painter or sculptor who has made significant contributions to their field.

Born in 1941 in Los Angeles, the New York–based artist is best known for her vibrant, witty narrative paintings that densely layer symbols from pop culture, everyday life, cartoons, and geopolitical conflicts onto the canvas. With a nearly forty-year-long career, Chunn, a self-described “political junkie,” says that she has “never stopped working, except when I teach my classes at the School of Visual Arts.” Once she “gets ideas through words,” she devotes nearly all of her time to cycles of paintings that can take years to complete.

“The level of craft in her paintings is marvelous,” noted juror and Art in America contributing editor Stephen Westfall in an official statement. “She has tremendous control of her surfaces, and when she applies collage to large paintings the combination of painting and collage is virtually seamless.” The panel of jurors for 2018 also included Palm Springs Art Museum executive director Elizabeth Armstrong and painter Hung Liu.

Chunn’s “Front Pages” series—in which she applied collages of text and imagery to the front page of each issue of the_ New York Times _from January 1, 1996 to December 31, 1996—was described by critic David Frankel as “provocative, gorgeous.” Her recent 2003–16 painting installation Chicken Little and the Culture of Fear featured over five hundred acrylic and digitally printed paintings, made from altered found clip art images, that represent a post-9/11, Kafkaesque, cartoon world.

Chunn’s paintings have been shown in solo and group exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Flag Art Foundation, among other institutions. She previously received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009 and the Anonymous Was a Woman Award in 2005, along with two painting grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1985 and 1995.