Cheng is named winner of 2017 Sondheim Artscape Prize

Baltimore artist Cindy Cheng has been named the winner of the 2017 Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.

Cheng’s work is a collection of graphite drawings and sculptures that explore the concept of three-dimensional space. She was announced the winner of the $25,000 prize Saturday evening.

“You apply for things like this, and you just don’t think you’re going to get that far,” said Cheng, 35. “It’s fantastic and surprising when you move along, and winning the award itself, having a show with these amazing artists is amazing.”

Cheng, who teaches drawing at Maryland Institute College of Art, was a semifinalist for the prize in 2013.

The six other finalists — Mequitta Ahuja, Mary Anne Arntzen, Sara Dittrich, Benjamin Kelley, Kyle Tata and Amy Yee — will each receive $2,500.

Nat Trotman, one of three jurors, said all seven Baltimore artists’ work was impressive, but Cheng’s stood out.

“The three of us together felt Cindy’s work held a tremendous amount of potential,” said Trotman, who is the curator of performance and media at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Ruba Katrib, a curator at the SculptureCenter in Long Island City, N.Y., and Clifford Owens, a New York-based contemporary artist, also served as jurors.

Trotman said the jurors thought that Cheng would benefit most from the award, which is intended to advance the career of an artist in the Greater Baltimore area.

Cheng is trained in drawing but said she is interested in “the gray area between drawing and sculpture, and how they can come together.”

Next, Cheng said, she wants to experiment with architectural themes, such as furniture, as way to make her art more interactive.In an interview shortly after being named the winner, Cheng said she was “in a bit of a daze.”

She said the prize was a huge honor not only because of the amount of the award but because it gave her the opportunity to participate in an exhibition with the other finalists.

“It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often,” she said.

Cheng’s work and that of the other finalists is on display at the Walters Art Museum through Aug. 13.

The finalists exhibition is produced by Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts in partnership with the Walters and MICA. It is held in conjunction with Artscape, the annual free arts festival coordinated by the BOPA.

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