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Exhibit Spotlights Award Winners

You might not expect to see a home office and a tropical house at a museum, but those are just a few of the things you’ll see at the Smithsonian American Art Museum this fall.

On Friday, the museum introduces its newest exhibit: “Celebrating the Lucelia Artist Award, 2001-2006.” While each installation was shipped to the gallery and assembled in the space while visitors were allowed to watch the construction, the show officially will launch at the end of the week.

The exhibit displays the works of the six winners of the award, which is presented annually to an American artist. These recipients include Jorge Pardo, Liz Larner, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Kara Walker, Andrea Zittel and Matthew Coolidge.

“These six artists are engaged in challenging pursuits that expand thinking about the character and function of art and the creative process,” guest curator Sidra Stitch said in a release.

The artists were judged on their bodies of work but were asked to submit only one piece to display. The installations range from Walker’s “Virginia’s Lynch Mob,” which features silhouette cutouts of an angry mob scene, to Larner’s “RWBs,” a pile of tin tubes covered in red, white and blue flags.

“It is energizing to see strong, representative work from each of the Lucelia Artist Award winners transforming the museum’s gallery space,” said Elizabeth Broun, the Margaret and Terry Stent director at the museum.

As part of the exhibit, Tiravanija, the 2003 award winner, will perform on the museum’s steps on April 17, 2008, followed the next day by a symposium that will feature past winners and jurors.

The first Lucelia Award was given to Pardo, who is known for blurring the lines between art, architecture and design. Many of his sculptures are composed of everyday items such as lighting fixtures and desks. His body of work goes so far as to include the Los Angeles house he designed, built and lives in. Pardo has a series of 70 glass-blown lamps on display as a part of the Lucelia Award show.

Since the award’s establishment in 2001, a jury of five art professionals, including artists and curators, has chosen the winner. Each juror is asked to nominate several artists who they feel demonstrate outstanding creativity. The jury then secludes itself to make a decision, resulting in what Stitch calls “absolutely engaging discussions.” The winner, who usually is chosen unanimously, is then presented with a $25,000 cash prize that Stitch explained is to help further the winner’s art rather than act as a scholarship.

The show’s opening coincides with the announcement of New York-based artist Jessica Stockholder as the 2007 winner, though her work is not currently on display at the museum.

“Celebrating the Lucelia Artist Award, 2001–2006” runs through June 22, 2008, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, located at Eighth and F streets Northwest. The museum is open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

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