Both artists will receive $30,000 in unrestricted fund$ to use as they wish. Waters, White, and the six other runners-up will all get featured in a Neddy exhibition opening in March at the University of Washington's Jacob Lawrence Gallery. Here's some of what National Juror Amber Esseiva, who selected this year's winners, had to say about Waters' and White's work:
The COVID 19 pandemic has revealed many things to us but above all else what this global pandemic has exemplified are the ways in which inequities can become further substantiated in times of economic and social decline. This pandemic has unevenly affected those in the service industries while it also has led to a drastic rise in consumption from companies such as Amazon. In a time where race, equity, and identity have become central to many conversations in the field Waters and White provide access and insight into issues related to identity and mass consumption that feel necessary.
When reached for comment, White told me the news is "surreal" and still "sinking in," but he is excited at the possibilities the prize gives him the latitude to do.
"I know this award will allow me to experiment in and out of the studio in ways I have only dreamt of (scale, collaboration, techniques, etc), and it will also allow me to move forward with some of the bigger community-oriented projects that have been in-the-making or on the backburner for a long time now," he said.
I've reached out to Waters for comment and will update this post whenever I hear back. In the meantime, you can read more about Esseiva's thoughts on both Waters and White's work and follow exhibition updates here.