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    High Names Scholar Valerie Cassel Oliver as 2011 Recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize

    ATLANTA, March 2, 2011 – The High Museum of Art has named scholar Valerie Cassel Oliver as the 2011 recipient of The David C. Driskell Prize. Named for the renowned African American artist and art scholar, the Driskell Prize is an annual award that recognizes a scholar or artist in the beginning or middle of his or her career whose work makes an original and important contribution to the field of African American art or art history. As the seventh Driskell Prize recipient, Cassel Oliver will be honored at the Driskell Prize Dinner in Atlanta on Saturday, April 16, 2011.

    “Valerie Cassel Oliver represents the new generation of innovation and influence in the field of African Diaspora and African American art,” said Michael E. Shapiro, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director of the High. “Her work as a curator, writer and lecturer qualifies her as an important voice in this group and makes her an exemplary recipient of the 2011 Driskell Prize. Now in its seventh year, this award continues to reflect the High’s commitment to supporting scholarship and creativity in this field.”

    In her role as senior curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), Cassel Oliver has organized numerous group and solo exhibitions. Her debut exhibition “Splat Boom Pow! The Influence of Cartoons in Contemporary Art” (2003) toured both nationally and internationally, “Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since the 1970s” (2005) was received with critical acclaim and “Black Light/White Noise” (2007), which featured light and sound works created by two generations of African American artists was groundbreaking. Her 2008 exhibition “Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970” was nominated by the United States section of the International Art Critics Association (AICA/USA) in the “digital media, video or film” category. Co-organized by Dr. Andrea Barnwell-Brownlee, director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the exhibition highlighted the contributions of African American female artists to the cinematic and visual arts arenas, and was presented in Atlanta in two parts (2007/2008) and at CAMH (2009). Cassel Oliver’s most recent exhibitions include “Hand+Made: The Performative Impulse in Art and Craft” (2010), “Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us” (2010) and “Perspectives 173: Clifford Owens,” which is currently on view at CAMH through April 3. Forthcoming exhibitions by Cassel Oliver include “Donald Moffett: The Extravagant Vein” (2011), a 20-year survey of work by painter Donald Moffett, and “Perspectives 177: MacArthur Binion” (2012).

    In 2009 Cassel Oliver was one of ten curators in the U.S. chosen to participate in the fellowship program of the Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL), a distinguished organization that trains curators for leadership positions. She was also the recipient of the prestigious Curatorial Fellowship Award from the Getty Foundation, which funded the initial research for “Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us.”

    Prior to her tenure at CAMH, Cassel Oliver was director of the Visiting Artists Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1995–2000) and program specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts (1988–1995). In 2000 she was selected as one of a team of curators to organize the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

    Cassel Oliver received her certificate of executive management from Columbia University in 2009. She also holds a master’s degree in art history from Howard University and a bachelor’s degree in communications from The University of Texas at Austin.

    The David C. Driskell Prize
    Established by the High in 2005, The David C. Driskell Prize is the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African American art and art history. Past recipients include artist Renee Stout (2010), scholar Krista A. Thompson (2009), artist Xaviera Simmons (2008), curator Franklin Sirmans (2007), artist Willie Cole (2006) and curator Kellie Jones (2005). A cash award of $25,000 accompanies the prize. Proceeds from the High Museum’s annual Driskell Prize Dinner go toward both the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisitions Fund and the David C. Driskell African American Art Endowment. Through the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisitions Fund, the High has acquired works by artists such as Radcliffe Bailey, Nick Cave, Willie Cole, John T. Scott, Renee Stout and, most recently, Julie Mehretu.

    David C. Driskell
    David Driskell is a practicing artist and scholar whose work on the African Diaspora spans more than four decades. The High’s relationship with Driskell began in 2000, when the Museum presented the concurrent exhibitions “To Conserve a Legacy” and “Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection,” which examined African American art in the broad historical context of modern and contemporary art. Born in 1931 in Eatonton, Georgia, Driskell is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in 1955 and his Master of Fine Arts degree from Catholic University in 1962. He also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 1953 and studied art history in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1964. More information about Driskell is available at www.driskellcenter.umd.edu.

    High Museum of Art
    The High Museum of Art, founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 12,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s media arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005, the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, please visit www.high.org.

    The Woodruff Arts Center
    The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. To learn more about the Woodruff Arts Center, please visit www.woodruffcenter.org.