MARÍA MARTÍNEZ-CAÑAS RECIPIENT OF THE OOLITE ARTS 2020 MICHAEL RICHARDS AWARD
The award was created in tribute to Michael Richards (1963–2001), an incisive, provocative and poetic artist whose body of work primarily addresses racial inequity and social injustice. An Oolite Arts alum, Richards passed away tragically in his art studio in the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The award of $75,000 was created to honor an eminent Miami-Dade artist who has created a recognized body of high-quality works, and who is achieving the highest levels of professional distinction in the visual arts through their practice. The award will support this practice over a two-year period, including a commission to create a work of art to be exhibited at The Bass.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Maria Martinez-Cañas has been widely recognized during a prolific career spanning over 40 years, with works of art in permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ford Foundation, International Center of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Walker Art Center and the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, amongst others.
She began her photographic work with a Polaroid Swinger camera that she received from her parents when she was 8, and ever since her career has been marked by an insatiable drive to experiment with different techniques. She received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Photography Fellowship and has been the recipient of many awards and grants, including a National Endowment for the Arts grant (1988) and a Civitella Ranieri Foundation fellowship (2014) in Umbertide, Italy.
Martínez-Cañas received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the Philadelphia College of Art and a Master of Fine Arts in photography from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has also been a professor at New World School of the Arts since 1996, where she has mentored dozens of the city’s visual artists.