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Studio Museum in Harlem Awards $50,000 Wein Prize to Diedrick Brackens

Diedrick Brackens has been named the winner of the Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2018 Joyce Alexander Wein Prize, a $50,000 award that honors the artistic achievements of African American artists who demonstrate “great innovation, promise, and creativity.” The institution made the announcement at its fall gala at the Park Avenue Armory on Thursday evening.

Born in Mexia, Texas, in 1989, Brackens is a Los Angeles–based artist who employs African, American, and European textile techniques to create tapestries conveying abstract and figurative scenes that often deal with issues of identity, sexuality, and race. A storyteller who draws on his memories as a child raised in the South and on his experiences as a queer black man in America, Brackens told Artland in a recent interview: “I embody a lot of identities that happen to be under threat in society and sometimes this means making work about things that happen to deal with death, pain, and danger, but I am simply telling stories that resonate with my experience like so many other artists, there is also joy and beauty— weaving is not created with a singular thread.”

Brackens’s work has been featured in group exhibitions at a number of institutions such as the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, and the Berkeley Art Museum in California. His most recent solo shows include “a slow reckoning” (2017) at the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita; “No More Trauma” (2016) at the Steve Turner Gallery in Los Angeles; and “This is Real Life” (2015) at Johansson Projects in Oakland, California.

The Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize was established in 2006 by jazz impresario, musician, and philanthropist George Wein as a way to honor his late wife, Joyce Alexander, a longtime trustee of the Studio Museum who died in 2005. Previous winners of the award include Simone Leigh—who was awarded the 2018 Hugo Boss Prize in a ceremony at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York last night—Derrick Adams, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Samuel Levi Jones.