Elana Mann and Erik L. Peterson win Stone & DeGuire Contemporary Art Awards

Each artist receives $25,000 to advance studio practice

Composers/musicians Micaela Tobin (right) and Sharon Chohi Kim (center) perform with Elana Mann’s “hands-up-don’t-shoot-horns” Sept. 29, 2018, at the Pitzer College Art Galleries, Claremont, California, in conjunction with Mann’s solo exhibition “Instruments of Accountability.” (Photo: Courtesy Elana Mann)

Los Angeles sculptor Elana Mann and Chicago public artist Erik L. Peterson have won the 2019 Stone & DeGuire Contemporary Art Awards.

Presented by the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, the Stone & DeGuire awards are open to all alumni of the Sam Fox School’s bachelor of fine arts and master of fine arts programs (with the exception of full-time Sam Fox School faculty). Recipients are chosen by faculty committee. Each winner receives $25,000 to advance their studio practice.

“Elana and Erik are both wonderful, thought-provoking artists,” said Carmon Colangelo, the Ralph J. Nagel Dean of the Sam Fox School. “Elana creates intricate, sculpturally complex sound instruments designed to highlight the act of listening. Erik’s slyly provocative installations and social interventions challenge viewers to reexamine their own navigations of the urban landscape.

“The Sam Fox School is deeply proud to support their work.”

Erik L. Peterson, “Seep” (2016). Installed in the old Texaco building in downtown Norfolk, Va., this neon piece “oozes down the wall just as floodwaters often rise up, threatening the city.” (Photo: Courtesy Erik L. Peterson)

Elana Mann, BFA 2003

Blurring the lines between meditative object, sonic exploration and community engagement, Mann’s multidisciplinary projects — often created in collaboration with performers, activists, musicians and community organizers — ask viewers to navigate the personal and political by simultaneously hearing both themselves and one another. “Many view listening as passive and weak,” Mann said. “However, my artwork argues that true listening involves the greatest powers we have as human beings: the power to empathize, the power to heal, and the power to create change within ourselves and our world.”

Elana Mann, “#metoo-rattle-battle (F.U.J.M.+S.S.),” from the “blame-game rattle” series (2018). Ceramic, wood and glass, 6″ x 9″ x 16″. Installation view, Pitzer College Art Galleries. (Photo: Courtesy Elana Mann)

Mann’s work has been presented in museums, galleries and public spaces across the United States as well as in Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, Germany, Iraq and Mexico. Since 2005, she also has collaborated with artist Audrey Chan as Chan & Mann. Her writing has been published in Afterall Journal, Art21 and The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, among others. Mann was named a 2017-18 Cultural Trailblazer by the City of Los Angeles. Other honors include residencies, fellowships and grants from Pitzer College, the California Community Foundation, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. In 2018, Mann co-edited, with John Burtle, the performance score anthology “Propositional Attitudes: What do we do now?” (Golden Spike Press).

Mann will use the award to fund materials and production costs for a large-scale, six-person “mega-kazoo-horn.” The custom-built aluminum horn — which is based on an instrument she first encountered at the Folk Music Center in Claremont, Calif. — will then be featured in a series of performances addressing issues of poverty and homelessness.

Erik L. Peterson, BFA 2004

Infused with absurdist humor and a welcoming spirit, Peterson’s practice encompasses a wide range of forms and materials, from large-scale public works to neon installations to edible ice-cream sculptures. His performances and subtle choreographies, often staged within busy urban settings, encourage viewers to become active participants in the creation of their own civic spaces.

Erik L. Peterson, “Tip Tap Tow” (2015). This urban tap dance was performed Jan. 30, 2015, on an exploded stage at various locations throughout Chicago’s South Loop. It was produced with support from the A+D Gallery at Chicago’s Columbia College. (Photo: Courtesy Erik L. Peterson)

Peterson has created more than a dozen public commissions across Chicago, St. Louis and the Southeastern seaboard, including: “Ashland” (2018) for the City of Chicago’s “Year of Public Art”; “Checks and Balances” (2017) for Loyola University; and “The Oasis” and “Seep NFK” (2016) for the Arts Club of Chicago and the N.E.O.N. District in Norfolk, Virginia, respectively.

His work has been featured in a dozen solo exhibitions and nearly 40 group shows, including “Infinite Games” (2018) for the School of the Art Institute and Open House Contemporary; and “Ontology of Influence: Ron Leax and Alumni Exhibition” (2016) for the Sam Fox School’s Des Lee Gallery. He is a founder of Hyde Park Kunstverein, a community museum and solo project space, and Qeej Hero, a transcultural video game highlighting the titular Hmong wind instrument.

The Stone & DeGuire award will allow Peterson, along with fellow artist Bryan Saner, to build a woodshop within the recently renovated Julia C. Lathrop Public Housing Complex, a 35-acre, mixed-income development located on the Chicago River. The Lathrop Cooperative Woodshop will enable Peterson and Saner to make art and public benches from reclaimed wood and to teach woodworking and boat-building skills to low-income residents and families. “The woodshop will be an innovative model for sustainable urban forestry and public skill-sharing,” Peterson said, “and will show how artists can be the creative catalysts for community development, offering a truly social practice.”

Erik L. Peterson, “Ashland” (2018). This giant sculptural ribbon of reclaimed ash wood, located in Chicago near the shores of Lake Michigan, also serves as a utilitarian piece of urban furniture. (Photo: Courtesy of Erik L. Peterson)

About the award

The Stone & DeGuire Contemporary Art Award was created by Nancy Stone DeGuire (1947-2013) and Lawrence R. DeGuire Jr. (1947-2006) via a bequest to the Sam Fox School; it was their desire to help fellow alumni artists advance their own studio practices. The couple, who worked closely together, met and married as undergraduates in the BFA program. Their work frequently investigated alternatives to the traditional picture plane, coalescing around the ties that bind rather than those that separate.

For more information, visit the Stone & DeGuire Contemporary Art Award page on the school’s website.

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