Winners of 2013 Baker Artist Awards announced

An installation artist who sculpts with mirrors and salt, an innovative cellist and a self-taught photographer whose work has been informed by the four decades that she has spent battling a rare genetic illness are the winners of the 2013 Baker Artist Awards.

The $25,000 awards, announced Thursday night on Maryland Public Television's "ArtWorks," are being bestowed upon Dariusz Skoraczewski, the principal cellist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; sculptor Jonathan Latiano, a recent graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art; and photographer Lynne Parks.


The three winners will showcase their work in February at an exhibition and performance at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

"Doctors, cancer treatments, scans, tests, hospitals are part of the fabric of my life. I carry this with me when I photograph, and it informs my work," says, Parks, 45. "Winning the Baker somehow legitimizes every huge effort I make to be active and creative and that my endeavors are meaningful."


The juried award, which was established in 2008, is designed to encourage local talent and to foster Baltimore's creative community. It's given annually to up to three regional artists across a range of disciplines. Artists are encouraged to nominate themselves, using an application process that includes text, video, audio and images.

In addition to the major awards — which are called the Mary Sawyers Baker Prize — nine artists also won $1,000 "b-grants": Donna Jacobs, Leah Cooper, Jenny O'Grady, CJay Philip, Ruby Fulton, Katherine McCord, Robby Rackleff, Nichole A. Martinell and Todd Marcus.

Latiano, 30, of Baltimore, says he'll use the award money to pay the rent on a studio that's large enough to accommodate his oversized works, and to consult with outside experts.

His installations incorporate elements of biology, astronomy, physics and geology, and frequently are made of wood, salt and mirrors. Latiano boils down the salt to break it apart chemically, and then uses the resulting silt to coat hard surfaces such as wood.

"As it evaporates, it rebonds to itself and forms its own structures," he says. "I realized that letting the material be itself creates far more beautiful and more interesting forms than I could ever do to if I were trying to force it."

A Polish-born Peabody alumnus, Skoraczewski, 41, now lives in Elkridge. He'll use the award to help pay for his new, custom-designed cello and to record Bach's suites for unaccompanied cello.

"I'm an independent person," he says. "I don't just perform; I'm also a self-taught engineer. That way, I have much more control over the outcome, from the final sound to the packaging. I've found that then I'm much more satisfied with the result."

Parks, 45, has a bachelor's degree in creative writing and film from Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. She says that the award will go toward paying medical bills and purchasing photographic equipment — including, she hopes, a new camera.


Since Parks was 14 years old, she has been contending with a serious inherited illness that causes three types of aggressive tumors, some cancerous.

"I find my images in marginal places," she says, "alleys, scrap yards, junk piles and abandoned buildings. Since I have had several tissue transplants, I identify with broken, patched-together things. I'm a Patchwork Girl."