Work by Renee Stout

"The Rootworker Possessed," a photographic self-portrait by Renee Stout. (Handout / September 26, 2007)

A half-dozen artists, ranging from a sculptor specializing in what he calls "tombstones for a cemetery that has turned carnival" to a photographer focusing on abandoned spaces and objects, have been announced as finalists for this year's $30,000 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.

Finalists for the seventh annual prize, awarded to an artist living and working in the Greater Baltimore area, are:

Lisa Dillin, a Silver Spring native raised in the Annapolis area whose interdisciplinary work stems from her interest in what organizers termed "the psychology of the contemporary individual contrasted with that of the primitive one." She is on the adjunct faculty of the Corcoran College of Art + Design and American University inWashington, D.C.

Jonathan Duff, who will be receiving his master's degree in fine arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art's Mount Royal School of Art in May, is a 2008 graduate of the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota whose sculptures and paintings have been exhibited throughout the Minneapolis area.

Hasan Elahi, an associate professor of art and director of the Digital Cultures and Creativity program at the University of Maryland Honors College, uses various media to produce art touching on issues of surveillance, citizenship, immigration, transport and borders and frontiers. He lives just outside Washington, D.C.

Matthew Janson received a Master of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he was a student in the Mount Royal School of Art. His mixed-media sculptures, for which he invokes the images of a cemetery-turned-carnival, are further described as "an up-close, colorful, detailed, opened and closed and multiplied menu of the body."

John McNeil received his master's degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2011 and is a member of the photography faculty there. He uses his photographs of abandoned spaces and objects to relate the stories they tell.

Renee Stout, who has lived in Washington since 1985, uses painting, drawing, mixed media sculpture, photography and installation to create works "that encourage self-examination, introspection and the ability to laugh at ourselves and the absurdities of life."

In addition to the winning prize, grants of $2,500 will be awarded to the other finalists.

Work from the six finalists will be displayed at the Baltimore Museum of Art June 16-July 29. The winner, based on work displayed in that exhibit, will be announced July 14, just one week prior to Artscape, which runs July 20-22, Baltimore's annual free celebration of the arts.

Last year's prize was won by filmmaker Matthew Porterfield.

The award is named for the late Walter Sondheim, a Baltimore civic leader for more than 50 years, and his wife, Janet. The competition is sponsored by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.

Chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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