The first figure skating prize, an annual award given to black artists, curators and scholars who advance racial justice in the arts, went to Meg Onli, associate curator at the University’s Institute of Contemporary Art from Pennsylvania.
The award, administered by Figure Skating, an arts space founded in 2019 by Virgil Abloh, Mahfuz Sultan and Chloe Wayne, includes a $ 50,000 scholarship for a research project led by Onlie, as well as an unlimited amount of $ 25,000. With her earnings, she will research the colonialist foundation of museums and also oversee a series of related programs in the spring of 2022.
In a statement, Onli said, “My project started out as an initial investigation into alternative curatorial practices and I am delighted to be able to develop my own practice through conversations with colleagues in the field.”
In 2017, Onli organized “Speech / Acts,” an interactive group exhibition at ICA Philadelphia that explored black experimental poetry and the role of language in the experiences of black Americans. This show was followed by his critically acclaimed three-part exhibition, “Colored People Time,” which focused on the radical impact of slavery and colonialism on life today and included works by Cameron Rowland, Aria Dean , Carolyn Lazard, Martine Syms, etc. A solo show by Jessica Vaughn curated by Onli is due to end at the ICA on May 9.
Onli has also won a Creative Capital / Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Fellowship, a Graham Foundation Fellowship and a Transformation Award from the Leeway Foundation, and was a 2018 Curatorial Fellow of the Warhol Foundation. In 2020, she appeared on ARTnewsthe list of “Decision-makers”.
“Figure skating is about documenting the aesthetic practices and traditions of black artists and intellectuals. It’s about writing our own stories and creating a space for our ideas to flourish independently of the traditional custodians of the art world, ”Abloh said in a statement. “We created the Figure Skating Award to amplify the work of the next generation of contemporary art leaders, and it is an honor to present the inaugural award to Meg Onli.