Annual Award

Michael Rakowitz, "The invisible enemy should not exist (Lamassu)," 2018. Trafalgar Square, London, 2018. Middle eastern food packaging and newspapers, glue, labels, sound, drawings. Photo credit: "190101 1937," by steeljam, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Michael Rakowitz is the recipient of the 2020 Public Art Dialogue (PAD) Award for achievement in the field of public art!

Rakowitz is an Iraqi-American artist who currently lives and works in Chicago. Rooted in socio-politically motivated conceptual art, social practice and relational aesthetics, his work is part of permanent collections in numerous institutions, and he has been exhibited worldwide, including at DOCUMENTA (13), MoMA PS1 , MassMOCA, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, and the 10th and 14th Istanbul Biennials, in addition to solo shows. In 1998, Rakowitz developed one of his most notable early works, paraSITE, for which he designed custom inflatable tents for the homeless that connected to existing outtake vents on the exteriors of buildings. Enemy Kitchen (2003-ongoing) is a project mounted in Chicago and elsewhere in which Baghdadi food, sometimes served by Iraq War veterans and cooked by Iraqi refugee chefs, serves as a conduit for conversations on conflict and culture. In 2018, Rakowitz was selected to create an installation in London’s Trafalgar Square for the Fourth Plinth project. The invisible enemy should not exist (2007-ongoing) is a full-scale recreation of a 700 BCE lamassu (stone statue/deity that guarded the gates of the ancient city of Nineveh) destroyed by Daesh terrorists in 2015. The sculpture, comprised of 10,000 empty Iraqi date syrup cans, is just one of the many works Rakowitz has developed as part of a larger project to re-create the approximately 7,000 objects looted from the Iraq Museum following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Rakowitz’s recent actions, aimed at a critique of cultural institutions and their philanthropic ties, have quickly gained international attention, including his request earlier this year that PS1 pause his video installationRETURN (2004-ongoing), in protest of two MoMA board members’ investments in private prison and defense industries. The ongoing back and forth between Rakowitz and the museum, which ignored his request, has turned a spotlight on the accountability of the institution and its stakeholders.

Rakowitz has been honored with many awards, including (but not limited to) the 2020 Nasher Prize for Sculpture, a 2012 Tiffany Foundation Award, a 2008 Creative Capital Grant, and a 2006 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Architecture and Environmental Structures.

Please join us in honoring Michael Rakowitz during the 108th CAA Annual Conference in Chicago at a ceremony and reception at the DePaul Museum of Art on Thursday, February 13 from 6:00-7:30 PM. The event is sponsored by PAD and Taylor & Francis.

The PAD award for achievement in the field of public art is given annually to an individual whose contributions have greatly influenced public art practice. Awardees are chosen from nominations made by PAD members. 

Image: Michael Rakowitz, "The invisible enemy should not exist (Lamassu)," 2018. Trafalgar Square, London, 2018. Middle eastern food packaging and newspapers, glue, labels, sound, drawings. Photo credit: "190101 1937," by steeljam, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Past Recipients

2019 - fierce pussy

Formed in New York City in 1991 through their immersion in AIDS activism, fierce pussy brought lesbian identity and visibility directly into the streets. The collective responded to the urgency of the time, using readily available resources: old typewriters, found photographs, their own baby pictures, and the printing supplies and equipment accessible in their day jobs. fierce pussy was composed of a fluid cadre of members. Four of the original members — Nancy Brooks Brody, Joy Episalla, Zoe Leonard, and Carrie Yamaoka — continue to work together.

2018 - Judy Baca

In 1974 Judy Baca founded the first City of Los Angeles Mural Program, which evolved into the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), where she is the artistic director. Baca’s inspirational career as an artist, scholar, and activist has immeasurably impacted urban visual culture.

2017 - Mierle Laderman Ukeles

Since 1977, when Mierle Laderman Ukeles became the official, unsalaried Artist-in-Residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation – a position she still holds – she has created art that deals with the endless maintenance and service work that “keeps the city alive,” urban waste flows, recycling, ecology, urban sustainability and our power to transform degraded land and water into healthy inhabitable public places.

2016 - Kirk Savage

Kirk Savage has written extensively on public monuments within the larger theoretical context of collective memory and identity. He is the author of two prizewinning books. Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (2009) reconsidered key public monuments and spaces of the capital within a narrative of nation building, spatial conquest, ecological destructiveness, and psychological trauma.

2015 - Tom Finkelpearl
Tom Finkelpearl is the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. In this role he oversees city funding for nonprofit arts organizations across the five boroughs and directs the cultural policy for the City of New York. Prior to his appointment by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Commissioner Finkelpearl served as Executive Director of the Queens Museum for twelve years starting in 2002, overseeing an expansion that doubled the museum’s size and positioning the organization as a vibrant center for social engagement in nearby communities.
2014 - Jack Becker
PAD recognizes Jack Becker's longstanding contributions to the field of public art as founder and executive director of Forecast Public Art, established in 1978. As a public artist and program administrator, Jack specializes in projects that connect the ideas and energies of artists with the needs and opportunities of communities. He has organized more than 70 exhibitions, 50 publications, and numerous special events.
2013 - Penny Balkin Bach
Penny Balkin Bach is Executive Director of the Association for Public Art (formerly Fairmount Park Art Association), the nation's first private non-profit public art organization, chartered in 1872 and dedicated to the integration of public art and urban planning. As a curator, writer, and educator, Bach provides artistic direction for the organization. She works with artists, architects, civic leaders, city agencies, community groups and cultural organizations.
2012 - Ben Rubin
Ben Rubin is a media artist based in New York City. His work features in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the San Jose Museum of Art; and the Science Museum, London, and has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum in New York; the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid; the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris, and the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe. Rubin has created large-scale public artworks for the New York Times, the City of San José, and the Minneapolis Public Library.
2011 - Anne Pasternak
Creative Time began commissioning innovative art in New York City in 1972, introducing millions of people every year to contemporary art while making sure it plays an active role in public life. In 1994, Anne Pasternak joined Creative Time as its President and Artistic Director. Her goal has been to present some of the most adventurous and historically important art in the public realm.
2010 - Mary Jane Jacob
Mary Jane Jacob is a curator who holds the position of Professor in the Department of Sculpture and Executive Director of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As chief curator of the Museums of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Los Angeles, she staged some of the first U.S. shows of American and European artists.
2009 - Suzanne Lacy
Suzanne Lacy is an internationally known artist whose work includes installations, video, and large-scale performances. Often investigating social themes, public policy, and urban issues, one of Lacy’s best known works to date is The Crystal Quilt (Minneapolis, 1987) a performance featuring 430 older women, broadcast live on Public Television. During the nineties she worked with teams of artists and youth to create an ambitious series of performances, workshops, and installations.