Painting + Printmaking student named AXA Art Prize finalist

Charcoal drawing by Amuri Morris, Self-Portrait as a Grandma

Painting + Printmaking student Amuri Morris was among 40 student artists who were selected for the third AXA Art Prize Exhibition.

Morris’ charcoal drawing, titled Self-Portrait as a Grandma, explores the contrast between self-identity and social identity—a common theme in her work.

“The viewer sees this figure as a grandma and imposes their own connotations/identity with that,” Morris writes in the submission. “This identity could have sexist or ageist implications, and so on. However, this identity is a facade. Underneath this guise, my own self-identity remains intact. This piece explores the dissonance between the world that you know and what you mean as a symbol in public. This is often a lived reality for many groups such as African Americans, where, for example, people see race over the person.”

The AXA Art Prize launched in 2017 and is viewed as one of the premier student art competitions in the U.S. The prize is open to figurative paintings, drawings and prints made by undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in courses in the U.S.

More than 400 submissions were received from 125 different schools, including both undergraduate and graduate programs. Submissions for the Prize were first reviewed by regional jurors—including VCUarts Painting + Printmaking professor Ruth Bolduan—from the Prize’s Strategic Advisory Board of 34 major art schools and programs in the U.S. The final 40 works in the exhibition were chosen by an Exhibition Jury comprised of Ian Alteveer, Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Lauren Haynes, Curator of Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Brett Littman, Director of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Museum; and Eugenie Tsai, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue featuring expert insights from curator and writer Antwaun Sargent. For the first time, the exhibition will be available to view virtually. This gallery will launch in September and feature works from the 2020 finalists, as well from previous winners of the prize.

Image: Amuri Morris (2019). Self-Portrait as a Grandma, charcoal on paper, 30 x 22 inches