Visual artist, graffiti scholar, and educator Will Kasso Condry of Brandon has been selected as the first recipient of The Vermont Prize, a new endeavor aimed at celebrating and supporting the best visual art being made in Vermont today.
A collaborative initiative of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC), Burlington City Arts (BCA), The Current of Stowe and the Hall Art Foundation in Reading, The Vermont Prize is juried by one representative from each of the four partner organizations and one special guest juror.
This year’s guest juror, Kelly Baum, the Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, said “Will Kasso Condry impresses in every way. Premised on deeply held ethical beliefs, his visually stunning, highly chromatic, labor-intensive drawings and paintings take their inspiration from Afrofuturism, a philosophy that privileges Black agency, creativity, and excellence, forging a political and aesthetic language that serves as a corrective to past and present wrongs. Condry is an exceptional artist doing exceptional work in and for Vermont.”
“I use my art to weave the rich and layered stories of the African diaspora as an Afrofuturistic artist and educator,” Condry wrote in an artist statement. “Be it fantastical or rooted in our current reality, my work reflects the multitude of dimensions and experiences Black people navigate. I want the observer to be transported within a universe filled with infinite possibilities; to understand that the Black imagination is our key to liberation, and that Black joy is the root that binds it all.”
Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Condry studied fine art and illustration at The College of New Jersey as a first-generation college student. He furthered his education with graffiti artist Daniel “POSE 2” Hopkins and muralist Dave McShane of Mural Arts Philadelphia. For over 20 years, he has worked with young people through a variety of community organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club and SAGE Coalition. He has served as artist-in-residence at Princeton University and Middlebury College. With Jennifer Herrera Condry and Alexa Herrera Condry, he founded Juniper Creative Arts, a Vermont-based Black and Dominican family collective that “uses visual art to uplift the voices of people on the margins.” His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions, and his murals have been commissioned by public, private, and corporate clients in New Jersey, California, and Vermont.
The four jurors representing the partner organizations were BCA Curator and Director of Exhibitions Heather Ferrell, BMAC Director of Exhibitions Sarah Freeman, Hall Art Foundation Director Maryse Brand, and The Current Executive Director Rachel Moore.
“It was an honor to serve as one of the jurors for the inaugural year of The Vermont Prize,” Ferrell said. “I was impressed by the breadth of creative talent, as well as the level of artistic excellence represented by the diversity of applications the jury reviewed. The Prize serves a vital need in supporting and elevating the role of artists in our community.”
Freeman and Brand also expressed appreciation for the opportunity to view work by talented artists from across Vermont.
“I was excited to learn about a lot of artists who are new to me, and I look forward to seeing even more in the future,” Freeman said.
Brand added, “The fact that it was such a tough choice speaks volumes about the caliber of the artists working in Vermont right now.”
The Vermont Prize is awarded to one artist annually. The winner is selected on the basis of artistic excellence, regardless of career stage. The winner receives $5,000, and their work is showcased and archived at vermontprize.org and on social media. Applications are accepted from visual artists currently living and working in Vermont. The Vermont Prize is open to individuals as well as collaborating artists. Artists working in any visual medium are welcome to apply. The next application deadline is March 31, 2023.