Hats off to Sam Durant, recipient of the Rappaport Prize, given annually by the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. The prestigious honor — which comes with a check for $25,000 — is given to a contemporary artist with strong connections to New England.
Durant, who grew up in Massachusetts and is now based in Los Angeles, works in a variety of media — painting, sculpture, installations, and more — drawing on US history to address the varying relationships between culture (southern rock, for example) and politics (the civil rights movement, for example).
Durant received a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts College of Art and a Master of Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts. He currently teaches at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Calif.
“[Durant] has an impressive record of international and solo exhibitions and a substantial history of scholarly and critical attention,” said deCordova executive director John Ravenal in a statement. “His thoughtful and timely exploration of social justice and civil rights aligns perfectly with the Rappaport Foundation’s commitment to a better society through supporting leadership in public policy, medicine, and the arts. And his Boston roots affirm deCordova’s deep engagement with New England artists.”
Said Durant: “I am a New Englander to the core — its remarkable history has profoundly shaped and inspired me. The deCordova Museum was a big part of my formation as an artist, and my teacher George Greenamyer’s work ‘Mass Art Vehicle’ at deCordova was one of the first public sculptures I loved.”
Recent Rappaport winners include Barkley Hendricks, Matt Saunders, Liz Deschenes, Ann Pibal, Suara Welitoff, Orly Genger, Liza Johnson, Dave Cole, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. In 2010, the prize was endowed in perpetuity by the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation.