Since 2014, the James W. Ray Awards—administered by The Artist Trust | Frye Art Museum Consortium and with support from the Raynier Foundation—has been shelling out the out the big bucks—about $80,000—to three artists working in different genres (like visual art, dance, and literature) in Washington state.
This year, two artists will receive $15,000 each, and one artist will get a sweet chunk of change—$50,000—to live the dream. In addition, all of the recipients will be able to present their work at the Frye Museum, as well. In fact, one of last year’s James W. Ray Award recipients, Tlingit artist Alison Marks, has a fantastic solo show currently on display at the Frye right now.
Anyway, enough context. And the recipients are…
Poet and literary artist Jane Wong is this year’s James W. Ray Distinguished Artist. Her work focuses on migration, violence, and “forgotten histories.” Her 2016 debut collection, Overpour, prompted critic Rich Smith to write: “Wong's precise and gritty-gorgeous images pass over you one by one like the most intense screen saver you've ever seen.”
The award will help Wong, who’s also a curator for poetry collective Margin Shift, complete two manuscripts: a second book of poems, and a collection of nonfiction essays about her family, its subjects ranging from her time working in the family Chinese take-out restaurant, to her father’s gambling addiction.
Tacoma-based visual artist Christopher Paul Jordan, along with collaborator Arnaldo James, will receive $15,000 to develop a series of collaborative public murals across the island of Trinidad and Tobago called Mission Black Satellite.
Jordan helped organize a “die in” at the Tacoma Art Museum’s Art AIDS America show in 2015 to protest the lack of representation of black artists in the exhibit. His recent installation, Latent Home Zero, was set up at the Olympic Sculpture Park this past fall, and dealt with black perceptions of displacement and home.
Finally, Veronica Lee-Baik, the other “Venture Project Award” recipient, is a performing artist and founder of The Three Yells dance company in Seattle. She choreographed Giselle Deconstruct, a ballet that debuted at On The Boards in early 2017 that dealt with the rise in suicide rates among Asian-American women.
Her project, to be called A Crack in the Noise, will be a collaborative work blending elements of ballet and modern dance, and will include other mediums like written text and origami, to raise awareness around issues of immigration.