Thursday, February 01, 2007

Riva Lehrer wins first Wynn Newhouse Award

I am forwarding an exciting announcement from David Mitchell, about a recent honor for the Chicago-based artist Riva Lehrer. What David doesn't say here is that he and his partner Sharon Snyder are at least in part responsible for raising the arts community's awareness of Riva Lehrer's work, through the DVD they produced and showed at film festivals and conferences across the country called "Self-Preservation: The Art of Riva Lehrer," 2004.

Simi Linton showed parts of "Self-Preservation as part of her Mini Course "Approaching Disability Through the Arts" sponsored by the Institute on Disabilities last Spring 2006.

Learn more about Riva Lehrer and her art on her website.

-----Original Message from David Mitchell-----

For those who haven't heard -- Riva Lehrer's art was just awarded the prestigious Newhouse Award for artists of excellence. This is a monumental achievement for her work and disability arts in general. Please send her your heartiest congratulations!


The Samuel I Newhouse Foundation announced today that Chicago artist Riva Lehrer is the winner of the first annual $50,000 Wynn Newhouse Award for artists of excellence. Ms Lehrer was selected from a group of eighteen nominees by a committee of persons respected in the arts community.

This award was established by collector Wynn Newhouse, who believe this program can draw attention to the work of the most talented artists having disabilities. He hopes this award will expose the art world and the public to important contributions made by these fine artists.

Ms Lehrer is currently on the faculty of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her recent Circle Series, includes expressionistic portraits of powerful and successful creative persons with disabilities. Over the years Ms. Lehrer has explored the schism between "normal" and "different" in her art with powerful results.

She believes, "Disability and art are natural partners. In order to have a good life with a disability, you have to learn to re-invent your world almost hour by hour. You discover ways to re-imagine everything, and how not to take the average answers to everyday questions. There is a great deal of creativity in disability if you decide that "reality" is just a raw material for you to mould. So many times, these re-inventions have been the keys to open new doors for everyone." Her recent work can be reviewed at

Four other artists tied as runners-up in this competition. They are: Darra Keeton of Houston and New York, Terrence Karpowicz of Chicago, Jonathan Sarkin of Gloucester and Sunaura Taylor of Berkeley.

In addition to Mr Newhouse, this competition was judged by Cheryl Brutvan, Beal Curator of Modern Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, William A Newman, artist and faculty member at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, Dr Olivia Raynor, scholar, author and Director of the National Arts and Disabilities Center at UCLA, and New York artist Dorothea Rockburne.

The foundation will soon begin the nominations process for the 2007 Wynn Newhouse Awards.
Questions about this awards program can be addressed to William R Butler by e-mail.


Daniel Goldberg said...

Riva Lehrer's work is stunning. It merits all the accolades, IMO.

Mike Dorn said...

Passing on some additional Disability Arts information from Stephanie Moore of VSA Arts:

Wanted to invite you to visit the VSA arts Artists Registry online, a computerized directory of 1,800 artists with disabilities working in the visual, performing, and literary arts.

The searchable online listing allows the public to identify artists based on a variety of criteria. Many artists have agreed to post their contact information so that you may reach them directly. To learn more about the Artists Registry and to begin connecting with the artists, visit:


Stephanie Moore
Director, Visual Arts
VSA arts
818 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20006
tel +1.202.628.2800
fax +1.202.429-0868
TTY +1.202.737.0645

an affiliate of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

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