The High Museum of Art today announces artist Jamal D. Cyrus as the 2020 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize in recognition of his contributions to the field of African American art. Awarded annually by the Museum since 2005, the prize demonstrates the High’s ongoing dedication to furthering innovation and research of African American artists and scholars.
Cyrus will receive the $25,000 cash award and be honored at the 16th annual Driskell Prize Dinner at the High on Friday, April 24, at 7 p.m. Proceeds from the dinner support the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Restricted and Endowment funds. Since the prize’s inception, the funds have supported the acquisition of 50 works by African American artists for the High’s collection.
Established by the High in 2005, the David C. Driskell Prize is the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African American art and art history. Past recipients include Huey Copeland (2019), Amy Sherald (2018), Naima J. Keith (2017), Mark Bradford (2016), Kirsten Pai Buick (2015), Lyle Ashton Harris (2014), Andrea Barnwell Brownlee (2013), Rashid Johnson (2012), Valerie Cassel Oliver (2011), Renee Stout (2010), Krista A. Thompson (2009), Xaviera Simmons (2008), Franklin Sirmans (2007), Willie Cole (2006) and Kellie Jones (2005). A cash award of $25,000 accompanies the prize. Proceeds from the High’s annual Driskell Prize Dinner support the David C. Driskell African American Art Restricted and Endowment Acquisitions funds, other ongoing African American initiatives and expenses associated with the David C. Driskell Dinner. The current balance of the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Endowment Fund is $1 million. Through the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Restricted Fund, the High has acquired works by artists including Romare Bearden, Rashid Johnson, Radcliffe Bailey, Nick Cave, Willie Cole, John T. Scott and Renee Stout.
David Driskell (American, born 1931) is a practicing artist and scholar whose work on the African Diaspora spans more than four decades. The High’s relationship with Driskell began in 2000 when the Museum presented the concurrent exhibitions “To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities” and “Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection,” which examined African American art in the broad historical context of modern and contemporary art. Born in Eatonton, Georgia, Driskell is distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Maryland,College Park. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in 1955 and his Master of Fine Arts degree from Catholic University in 1962. He also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 1953 and studied art history in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1964. More information about Driskell is available at www.driskellcenter.umd.edu.
Based in Houston, Texas, Jamal D. Cyrus works across media in a conceptual, research-driven practice that interrogates American history within the framework of black political movements, the influence of the African Diaspora and social struggle. Encompassing object-based to performance art, Cyrus’ work is a form of self-education, aiming to rectify gaps in the understanding of cultural and national heritage.Continue reading