Photo by Alexa Condry
Vermont Business Magazine Burlington City Arts (BCA) in collaboration with The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, The Current, and Hall Art Foundation, is thrilled to announce the winner of the first annual Vermont Prize: renowned Brandon-based visual artist, graffiti scholar, and educator Will Kasso Condry. As the recipient of this prize, Condry receives a monetary prize of $5,000, and his work will be showcased and archived on vermontprize.org and on social media.
Launched in 2022 as a partnership between these four Vermont arts organizations, The Vermont Prize accepts submissions from visual artists currently living and working in Vermont. Each prize cycle is juried by a team consisting of one representative from each of the four partner organizations, as well as a fifth independent and unaffiliated juror. The prize winner is selected on the basis of artistic excellence, regardless of career stage. This year's independent juror was Kelly Baum, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
"Will Kasso Condry impresses in every way," Baum writes. "For Condry, it is abundantly clear that the form and content of his work matters just as much as how, why, and for whom he makes that work. 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.
In the works submitted for the Vermont Prize, Condry uses acrylic, ink, and marker to conjure up new, extraordinary forms of Black humanity. Adapting African traditions, his “more than humans” are almost always armored and ornamented and immersed in fantastical, otherworldly landscapes. Together they amaze and inspire. Condry’s larger practice is equally worthy of accolades, marrying as it does a commitment to pedagogy, collaboration, social justice, and community engagement. Condry is an exceptional artist doing exceptional work in and for Vermont."
Condry studied fine art and illustration at The College of New Jersey as a first-generation college student. He furthered his education in the art of aerosol painting with the mentorship of legendary graffiti artist Daniel "Pose 2" Hopkins and refined his artistry in large-scale mural production under the tutelage of Dave McShane at Mural Arts Philadelphia.
Condry has taught courses on the origins and politics of Graffiti and Street Art and the elements of Hip-Hop culture at Middlebury College, and he has taught elementary school classes on the art of illustration, puppet making, and mural painting. For over 20 years, he has worked with young people through a variety of community organizations including the Boys & Girls Club and his former non-profit organization SAGE Coalition.
"My work centers on unlimited imagination without borders," Kasso Condry writes in his artist statement. "I speak through color and composition. Whether with the stroke of a brush or the spray of a can, I become one with whatever medium is at my fingertips. I am a storyteller in the great traditions of the griots of West Africa. I use my art to weave the rich and layered stories of the African diaspora as an Afro-futuristic artist and educator. Be it fantastical or rooted in our current reality, my work reflects the multitude of dimensions and experiences Black people navigate. My work is a journey towards freedom of boundless expression and a form of enlightenment through imagination. 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."
In addition to Baum, jurors for the inaugural Vermont Prize included Maryse Brand, Director at the Hall Art Foundation, Heather Ferrell, Curator and Director of Exhibitions at Burlington City Arts, Sarah Freeman, Director of Exhibitions at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, and Rachel Moore, Executive Director & Director of Exhibitions at The Current.
About the Four Partner Organizations
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center is a non-collecting contemporary art museum focused on the art of our time. An anchor of southern Vermont’s vibrant cultural life, BMAC brings notable art and artists to Brattleboro and provides a platform for its region’s many artistic riches. BMAC presents 15-20 exhibitions annually, complemented by 60-70 public programs and extensive educational offerings developed in partnership with area schools and service organizations.
For over 30 years, Burlington City Arts (BCA) has helped cement Burlington, Vermont’s reputation as one of America’s most livable cities for the arts. BCA’s physical locations include the BCA Center, a multilevel, year-round exhibition space, as well as BCA Studios, which hosts art classes, camps, and open studio hours in our state-of-the-art facilities. BCA also produces city-wide festivals, events, concerts, films, artist markets, and more.
Founded in 2007, the Hall Art Foundation makes available postwar and contemporary art works from its own collection and that of Andrew and Christine Hall for the enjoyment and education of the public. In Reading, Vermont, its campus of converted galleries, situated on a former dairy farm, consists of a 19th century stone farmhouse, three barns, as well as a reception center and cafe. The property’s five historic buildings make up approximately 6,000 square feet of museum-quality exhibition space, and are surrounded by approximately 400 acres of pastures, hayfields and extensive woodland. Outdoor sculptures by world-renowned artists are installed throughout the grounds.
The Current, a center for contemporary art located in Stowe, Vermont, was established in 1981 as Helen Day Art Center with a mission to enhance the human experience through the visual arts. The Current produces major exhibitions featuring a range of artists representing diverse geographies and career stages. Exhibitions are accompanied by a robust interpretive learning program including lectures, panels, and film screenings free to the public. The Current provides progressive arts education programs for all ages, with year-round classes, tours, workshops, and other interactive programs.
BURLINGTON, VT—Burlington City Arts 6.30.2022