This is Martha Rosler, the first winner of The New Foundations biennial 100K Prize.
The first winner of The New Foundation's biennial 100K Prize is Martha Rosler, above. Courtesy of The New Foundation

The New Foundation, founded by Shari D. Behnke, has created a prize of $100,000 to be given every two years to "an influential, U.S.-based woman artist in honor of her exemplary artistic achievements and enduring commitment to her practice."

Martha Rosler is the first recipient. She wins a $100,000 unrestricted cash award from the Foundation, and in addition, the Foundation sponsors a year of exhibitions and public programs around her work in Seattle.

"The 100K Prize is a new initiative that builds on the philanthropic interests of the Foundation's founder, Shari D. Behnke: supporting artists, empowering women, and catalyzing social change," the press release reads. "The Prize presents an opportunity for the Foundation to honor an influential artist while connecting audiences to the recipient’s work and the ideas it generates over an extended period of time."

Rosler is a major artist of the 20th century. She emerged in the late 1960s with a series of photomontages called House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, in which she inserted images of the Vietnam War into advertising pictures of pretty American living rooms and kitchens.

She later revisited the theme in a follow-up series on the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those two series will be exhibited in 2016 at Seattle Art Museum as part of the Prize.

Rosler has worked in many mediums, creating pieces that are historical touchstones: white, middle-class feminist videos like Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975) and Vital Statistics of a Citizen (1977) (two videos I personally love, so acknowledging their—my—demographic is not a dig), and the conceptual/social text and photography installation regarding poverty and perception, The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems.

“I am honored and delighted to be the first recipient of The 100K Prize from The New Foundation Seattle, an award instituted in recognition of women artists whose work has shown a commitment to social justice,” says Rosler. “It is especially gratifying that this generous prize seeks to support artists like me, who are trying to think through the role of art in the activation of communities, and that this is reflected in the year-long programming dedicated to opening social questions to broad publics in different locales around the city.”

It's a little like when a city chooses a book to read together. Rosler's work is our book; the crisis of vanishing affordable housing in Seattle is its general subject.

The full cycle of events in Seattle will be called Housing Is a Human Right. Its basis is a continuing exploration of a three-exhibition cycle Rosler originally created at Dia Art Foundation in 1989, called If You Lived Here....

The 2016 Seattle events will include an exhibition at The New Foundation plus public happenings created with partners the Seattle Public Library, the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Seattle Art Museum, and the University of Washington School of Art + Art History + Design. (Aside: the newest art historian at UW, Adair Rounthwaite, has researched and written about If You Lived Here.... I heard her speak last week at the UW conference on Socially Engaged Art in Japan, and read her work on the Rosler piece; both have been great.)

A full schedule will be published in January, so check back.