2021 Florida Prize in Contemporary Art

June 4 – August 8, 2021 - Multiple Galleries

Installation shot

Installation shot

Tra Bouscaren

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Matthew Cornell

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Reflecting on Reliquaries #1 Saint Casimir Reliquary, “I would rather die than be dishonored”. (Soldani, 1687, Medici)

Richard Heipp

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Drifting Cabinets

Sean Miller

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Isla and Parker, Pinecraft, Sarasota

Lauren Mitchell

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R. Bridges (From the series In the Malediction of Cham)

Marielle Plaisir

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The Promised Land

Robert Rivers

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Fountain (From FloodZone series)

Anastasia Samoylova

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Tuft Titty, Said the Kitty

Clara Varas

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The Fragility of the Promise

Kedgar Volta

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The Florida Prize in Contemporary Art is organized by the Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) to bring new recognition to the State’s most progressive artists. With the 2020 exhibition on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 will now be the seventh exhibition. Each year OMA surveys artists working throughout the State before inviting ten to participate, with one to receive a $20,000 monetary award.  Artists range from emerging to mid-career, often with distinguished records of exhibitions and awards that reflect recognition at national and international levels. In all cases they are artists who are engaged in exploring significant ideas of art and culture in original and visually exciting ways. The Florida Prize in Contemporary Art and accompanying catalogue underscore OMA’s commitment to the art of our time, and to supporting artists who live and work in our State. 

The Florida Prize in Contemporary Art Award is generously underwritten by Gail and Mike Winn.

Generous support for the 2021 exhibition was provided by: the Rita and Jeffrey Adler Foundation, Inge and Gene Gross, Mrs. James W. Mahaffey, Caroline and Jeffrey Blydenburgh, The Henner Family, George Poelker and Judy Black, and R.J. Santomassino.



This year's artists are:

  • Tra Bouscaren, Tallahassee
  • Matthew Cornell, Orlando
  • Richard Heipp, Gainesville
  • Sean Miller, Gainesville
  • Lauren Mitchell, Orlando
  • Marielle Plaisir, Miami
  • Robert Rivers, Maitland
  • Anastasia Samoylova, Miami
  • Clara Varas, Miami
  • Kedgar Volta, Jacksonville 

The work of these artists is as widely varied as the range of practices and media they use. Tra Bouscaren and Kedgar Volta have created interactive multimedia installations that engulf the visitor in immersive experiences. Richard Heipp and Matthew Cornell paint in virtuosic styles that invite the viewer to consider the nature of photographic and painterly realism. Sean Miller’s portable museums of gulf coast natural history investigate what is threatened by climate change and mismanagement in the region, while Anastasia Samoylova’s large scale photographs explore the imminent danger of rising sea levels in Miami. Lauren Mitchell’s documentary photographs look at life in Central Florida, frequently transforming the familiar and mundane into surprise and revelation. Transformations of the ordinary also occurs in Clara Varas’s complex, evocative installations assembled from found and discarded materials that are animated by dynamic abstract painting. Memory and loss haunt Robert River’s epic cycle of drawings about an American soldier killed in the War in Afghanistan. Marielle Plaisir’s multimedia works confront the viewer with the history and ongoing trauma of colonialism in the Caribbean and her homeland Guadeloupe.  These diverse artists offer visitors an opportunity to explore an array of ideas that are relevant today as expressed in challenging and provocative works of art.

NOTE: When the current iteration of the Florida Prize exhibition was postponed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, OMA’s curatorial team conducted virtual studio visits, which were packaged into a series of videos produced with generous support from the Art Bridges "Bridge Ahead" initiative. View the series HERE »

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