Last night a public declaration was made alongside the inauguration of an inclusionary award for the long absent ‘Girl Genius’ within the arts vicinity. A multitude of witnesses can attest as in a stroke of ‘genius’ a new initiative was launched during the opening night event for the annual Kudos Art Award at Kudos Gallery, 6 Napier Street Paddington.
BA Fine Arts Graduate and Honors candidate, Miranda Samuel proudly stood and announced an exciting new award which ‘stems from the very idea of the ‘girl genius’ as something that is virtually non-existent’. She rousingly explained the rapid growth which support for this project had sustained from the moment of its inception when communicating it to prominent women Australia wide.
Interestingly this young, attractive, intelligent, proactive girl with her well-earned self-confidence in announcing herself as co-founder of this initiative was met with amusement. Is not her attempt at inclusionary judgment and direct address toward gender imbalance in institutions something to be applauded? Hopefully this is exactly how she is received when presenting ‘Girl Genius: redressing gender imbalance’, alongside Tess Allas, Director of Indigenous Programs College of Fine Arts and Design UNSW, at Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), on the 24th October 2014. Maura Reilly, Professor and Chair of Art Theory at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University and writer of ‘Curatorial Activism and Ethical Responsibility’ is also presenting a ‘Masterclass – Curating Feminism conference’ the discovery of whom ‘helped buoy our confidence that something was not quite right’.
Tess has begun work with Miranda’s observations and redress of ‘the gender imbalance that exists at an institutional level’ as a departure point and ‘through a multifaceted ongoing project and a series of panel discussions, publications and exhibitions over the coming years we hope to begin a frank and open dialogue about the issues surrounding this imbalance.’
Marie Sierra, Deputy Dean & Head of School judged the award alongside Miranda and the other cash endorsements for prize funds came from Tess and Miranda, Penelope Benton, UNSW MFA candidate and Manager of Arc@UNSW Art & Design, Lisa Havilah-Director of Carriageworks, Dr. Kim Snepvangers-Program Director of Art Education, Associate Professor Joanna Mendelsson and Ms Rebecca Nicholson.
Yao Zhang, United horses for the year of the horse
The criteria for the award was simple; ‘a heartbreaking work of staggering girl genius’. The judging notes read, ‘We intended to have just one recipient of the award this year, but were completely captivated by two genius female entries so we’ve split the prize into one main winner, and a highly commended’. The only artwork from the printmaking discipline within the Kudos Award thankfully received a ‘Highly Commended’ and cash prize which was awarded to Yao Zhang for, United Horses for the year of horse’ (2014) for the ‘surreal nature of the imagery together with the superior technical rendering, and scale of the etching made this a standout’.
Claudia Nicholson, Baby I would climb the Andes
First Prize, cash prize and trophy went to Claudia Nicholson for ‘Baby I would climb the Andes’ an artwork of some high esteem. Claudia was recently chosen by 4A’s Visual Arts Advisory committee as one of only two Australian artists selected for the 2014 Bejing Studio Program at the studios of Chinese-Australian artist Shen Shaomin. She is also the current artist in residency at Firstdraft gallery and is a regular at Gaffa, Sydney. The judgment notes reading as, ‘Claudia uses cultural signifiers to explore identity politics and belonging. Her work offers a refreshing addition to the dialogues around this subject matter.
Girl Genius will no doubt take off to dizzying heights in its honorable search for equality in the arts with proud supporters actively jumping on board as honestly, who wouldn’t want to?
See the below link for the Girl Genius and other Master-classes alongside the Curating Feminism Conference, program of events;