The Orlando Museum of Art (Website) will be celebrating the opening of the 2021 Florida Prize in Contemporary Art at an exhibition preview party from 6-10 p.m. Friday, June 4, and will feature a live DJ, an opportunity to meet this year’s participating artists, and food inspired by this year’s exhibition created by a number of local chefs and restaurants.

The Florida Prize in Contemporary Art is organized by the Orlando Museum of Art to call attention to the most progressive, cutting-edge artists in the State. With the 2020 exhibition put on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 will now be the seventh exhibition of the Florida Prize. Each year the OMA presents working artists from around the State of Florida with one chosen to receive a $20,000 prize. 


Artists range from emerging to mid-career, often with distinguished records of exhibitions and awards that reflect recognition at national and international levels. In all cases, they are artists who are engaged in exploring significant ideas of art and culture.

The artists for this year include Tra Bouscaren, Tallahassee; Matthew Cornell, Orlando; Richard Heipp, Gainesville; Sean Miller, Gainesville; Lauren Mitchell, Orlando; Marielle Plaisir, Miami; Robert Rivers, Maitland; Anastasia Samoylova, Miami; Clara Varas, Miami; and Kedgar Volta, Jacksonville.


The work of these artists is as widely varied as the range of practices and media they use. Tra Bouscaren and Kedgar Volta have created interactive multimedia installations. Richard Heipp and Matthew Cornell paint in styles that invite the viewer to consider the nature of photographic and painterly realism. Sean Miller’s portable museums of Gulf Coast natural history investigate what is threatened by climate change and mismanagement in the region, while Anastasia Samoylova’s large-scale photographs explore the imminent danger of rising sea levels in Miami. Lauren Mitchell’s documentary photographs look at life in Central Florida. Transformations of the ordinary also occur in Clara Varas’s complex, evocative installations assembled from found and discarded materials that are animated by dynamic abstract painting. Memory and loss haunt Robert River’s epic cycle of drawings about an American soldier killed in the War in Afghanistan. Marielle Plaisir’s multimedia works confront the viewer with the history and ongoing trauma of colonialism in the Caribbean and her homeland Guadeloupe. 

For more information on the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art, the artists, the sponsors, and the opening Preview Party, please visit www.omart.org. Funds from the event will support the Florida Prize exhibition and education programs.   


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