Cannupa Hanska Luger, Every One, 2018. Photo: Jenna Bascom.

New York’s Museum of Arts and Design Names Cannupa Hanska Luger Winner of Inaugural Burke Prize

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York announced that Cannupa Hanska Luger has won the inaugural Burke Prize for contemporary craft. Named for collectors Marian and Russell Burke, the $50,000 award will be given annually to an artist forty-five years old or younger whose work advances the media and disciplines that shaped the American studio craft movement.

Luger is a New Mexico–based artist and activist best known for his community-oriented projects on issues facing indigenous populations in the US and Canada. He was raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, which also serves as the site for several of his works and performances, and creates monumental installations incorporating ceramics, video, sound, fiber, and steel, among other materials, that often include a call to action.

Commenting on his work, Luger said: “I define craft differently than most institutions or craft practitioners. My exposure to craft is colored by my Indigeneity. The process of surviving in the world as an Indigenous maker is unlike the survival of other craftspeople; the preservation of our people feels urgent and is deeply tied to the survival of our craft traditions.”

Featured in the exhibition “The Burke Prize 2018: The Future of Craft Part 2” are two of the artist’s works. Mirror Shield Project, 2016, began as an instructional video that teaches viewers how to make a mirror shield out of plywood and reflective Mylar. Participants were then invited to send the mirror shields to the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) camp at Standing Rock for use during the 2016 demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Also on view is the installation Every One, 2018, another project that began as an instructional video. The work invited people to create and donate two-inch clay beads, which Luger fired, stained, and strung together to make a monumental curtain. Each bead is a memorial to one of the four thousand cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, queer people, and trans people in the US and Canada.

“Cannupa Hanska Luger exemplifies craft as connected to the past as much as to the future,” Namita Gupta Wiggers said in a statement. “He employs a range of materials, many of which break traditional associations with craft, while still attending to careful making that is as much about form and process as it is content. Most of all, for me, he shows us a contemporary moment in which craft enables indigeneity and modernity to occupy the same space.”

“The Burke Prize 2018: The Future of Craft Part 2,” which includes thirty-five works ranging from jewelry to installation, furniture, and digital media, will remain on view through March 17, 2019.