The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art awarded the African Art Awards for the first time.
Recognizing the best in contemporary African art and philanthropy on the continent, this annual event will honor the artistic achievements and generosity of individuals who are influencing the way our global community experiences the dynamic and diverse arts of Africa.
The 2016 honorees are internationally renowned artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, rising star of the art world Ato Malinda, and the Ford Foundation. James Beard Award-winning celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, founder of the Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, will use his talents to design a distinctive menu for the evening’s dinner.
“We are delighted to recognize Yinka Shonibare MBE, Ato Malinda and Ford Foundation for their remarkable achievements, which highlight the diversity of Africa that is connected so closely to our mission,” said Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the museum. “Each awardee is exemplary in their field, continually working to make a difference on and off the continent.”
The 2016 Awardees
Ato Malinda has gained recognition for her thought-provoking multimedia. The Kenyan artist often explores sexuality, gender and nationality, advocating for women and the LGBTQ community in Africa. Her work is currently being shown at the Brooklyn Museum’s Agitprop! exhibition. Her video On fait ensemble was on view in The Divine Comedy exhibition at the National Museum of African Art in 2015.
Yinka Shonibare MBE is one of the world’s most celebrated artists working today. The British-Nigerian artist has consistently explored exchange, history, and hybrid identity in the post-colonial era. His work is found around the globe in numerous public and private collections. His video Un Ballo in Maschera is currently on view in the museum’s Senses of Time exhibition.
The Ford Foundation was established by Edsel Ford in 1936, with an initial gift of $25,000. Today, they are stewards of a $12 billion endowment. Over the past 80 years their social justice mission and vision have guided through transformations in the foundation, the communities it serves, and the world at large. Across eight decades, their mission has sought to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.