A Washington, D.C., artist who works in multiple media was awarded the 2012 Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize — a $30,000 purse — at a ceremony Saturday evening at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Renee Stout, whose painting, drawing, prints, sculpture and photography explore her African-American heritage, beat five other finalists for the honor, according to a statement from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, which sponsors the competition.
The Pittsburgh native is taking home the biggest pot in the prize's seven-year history. The premium was increased by $5,000 this year. The other finalists — Lisa Dillin, Jon Duff, Hasan Elahi, Matthew Janson and John McNeil — will take home grants of $2,500.
The collection she entered represented an interest in otherworldly New Orleans culture, expressed in paintings, prints and items such as an altar of icons.
Stout, who graduated with a fine arts bachelor's from Carnegie Mellon University in 1980, has also received awards from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, according to her online resume.
"Originally trained as a painter, I came to realize that my creative vision was so expansive it would be confining for me to limit myself to creating in one medium for my entire career," Stout writes in her artist's statement. "When an idea hits me, I immediately decide which materials will best allow me to make that idea tangible."
The Sondheim Prize is named for the longtime Baltimore civic leader and his wife. It is intended to help support visual artists in developing new works.
Stout and the other finalists' work will be on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art through Sunday, July 29. Artscape, Baltimore's celebration of the arts, is scheduled for next weekend along Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street.