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The College Art Association will honor Barkley L. Hendricks, professor of studio art, with the 2010 Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work at the association´s annual conference Feb. 10.
Announcing Hendricks as the winner of this national award, the College Art Association said his work "transformed how African Americans saw themselves, and how they were seen." First presented in 1988, the Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work is a peer award given to an artist for exceptional work through exhibitions, presentations, or performances. Recent winners include Yoko Ono, Betye Saar and Krzysztof Wodiczko.
"This prestigious national award caps a decade of exhibitions discovering the art of Professor Hendricks and giving him the national reputation he has long deserved," Robert Baldwin, associate professor of art history at Connecticut College, said. "More than most modern artists, Hendricks has pursued his own vision, regardless of what was selling in fashionable galleries."
Hendricks is widely known for his portraiture and landscapes. A major retrospective, "Barkley Hendricks: The Birth of the Cool," is currently touring the United States, most recently in Philadelphia. The exhibition, which will be on display at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston beginning Jan. 30, features more than 50 paintings, including Hendricks´ striking life-sized portraits of people of color.
"Hendricks´ images are empowering and sometimes confrontational as they explore the complexity of Black identity," Bobbi Booker wrote in a review of the retrospective for the Philadelphia Sunday Tribune. He added, "Hendricks´ pioneering contributions to African-American portraiture and conceptualism melds American realism, pop culture and post-modernism in a way uniquely his own."
Hendricks said he has always loved art, but noticed at an early age the people depicted in the famous paintings in museums didn´t look like him. "I was inspired by the masters and how they painted, but there was an absence of people I could recognize," he said. "There is logic to an artist´s direction, which is to relate to what they know, and that is what I do."
Hendricks will travel to Chicago Feb. 10 to accept the award at the College Art Association´s annual conference.