Visual artist, graffiti scholar and educator Will Kasso Condry of Brandon has been selected as the first recipient of the Vermont Prize, a new commitment to celebrate and support the best visual art made in Vermont today.
A collaborative initiative of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC), Burlington City Arts (BCA), The Current of Stowe, and Reading’s Hall Art Foundation, the Vermont Prize is judged by a representative from each of the four partner organizations and a juror special guest.
This year’s guest jury, Kelly Baum, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky, curator of contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said, “Will Kasso Condry impresses in every way. Based on deeply rooted ethical convictions, his visually stunning, highly chromatic and labor-intensive drawings and paintings draw inspiration from Afrofuturism, a philosophy that privileges black agency, creativity and excellence, forging a political language and aesthetic that acts as a corrective for past and present wrongs. Condry is an exceptional artist who does exceptional work in and for Vermont. “
“I use my art to weave the rich and layered stories of the African diaspora as an Afro-Futurist artist and educator,” Condry wrote in a statement from the artist. “Whether it’s fantastic or rooted in our current reality, my work reflects the multitude of dimensions and experiences that blacks navigate. I want the observer to be transported inside a universe full of infinite possibilities; to understand that black imagination is our key to liberation and that black joy is the root that binds everything “.
Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Condry studied fine arts and illustration at the College of New Jersey as a first-generation college student. He deepened his education with graffiti artist Daniel “POSE 2” Hopkins and muralist Dave McShane of Mural Arts Philadelphia. For over 20 years he has worked with young people through a variety of community organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club and the SAGE Coalition. He has served as an artist in residence at Princeton University and Middlebury College. With Jennifer Herrera Condry and Alexa Herrera Condry, he founded Juniper Creative Arts, a Vermont-based collective of black and Dominican families that “uses visual art to raise the voices of people on the fringes.” His work has been featured in solo and group shows, and his murals have been commissioned by public, private and corporate clients in New Jersey, California and Vermont.
The four jurors representing the partner organizations were BCA Curator and Exhibition Director Heather Ferrell, BMAC Exhibition Director Sarah Freeman, Hall Art Foundation Director Maryse Brand and current Executive Director Rachel Moore.
“It was an honor to be one of the jurors for the inaugural year of the Vermont Prize,” said Ferrell. “I was struck by the breadth of creative talent, as well as the level of artistic excellence represented by the diversity of nominations examined by the jury. The Prize responds to a vital need in supporting and elevating the role of artists in our community “.
Freeman and Brand also expressed appreciation for the opportunity to see the work of talented artists from across Vermont.
“I was thrilled to know many artists who are new to me and look forward to even more in the future,” Freeman said.
Brand added, “The fact that it was such a difficult choice speaks volumes about the caliber of the artists working in Vermont right now.”
The Vermont Prize is awarded to one artist each year. The winner is selected on the basis of artistic excellence, regardless of career stage. The winner receives $ 5,000 and their work is shown and archived on vermontprize.org and on social media. Applications are accepted from visual artists currently living and working in Vermont. The Vermont Prize is open to individuals and collaborating artists. Artists working in any visual medium are welcome to apply. The next application deadline is March 31, 2023.