SECA Art Award

Overview

2008 SECA Art Award winners (left to right) Jordan Kantor, Tauba Auerbach, Desirée Holman and Trevor Paglen; photo: Drew Altizer Photography
2008 SECA Art Award winners (left to right) Jordan Kantor, Tauba Auerbach, Desirée Holman and Trevor Paglen; photo: Drew Altizer Photography

The SECA Art Award recognizes innovative and talented Bay Area artists whose work has not been accorded substantial institutional recognition.

Since 1967 SFMOMA and its art interest group SECA have honored numerous Bay Area artists with the biennial award, which includes an SFMOMA exhibition, an accompanying catalogue, and an honorarium. Recipients are chosen through a nomination and studio visit process. Finalists and award winners are selected by SFMOMA's SECA Art Award exhibition curators.

The 2012 SECA Art Award exhibition, presented in the fall of 2013, featured artworks presented outside the gallery context. Nominees for this unique offsite iteration of the award, which coincided with the start of construction on SFMOMA's building expansion, were invited to submit a proposal for an off-site solo commission as part of their application materials. The four 2012 award recipients, Zarouhie Abdalian, Josh Faught, Jonn Herschend, and David Wilson, created projects online and in various locations around the Bay Area.

Other recent SECA Art Award recipients include Mauricio Ancalmo, Colter Jacobsen, Ruth Laskey, and Kamau Amu Patton (2010); Tauba Auerbach, Desirée Holman, Jordan Kantor, and Trevor Paglen (2008); Sarah Cain, Kota Ezawa, Amy Franceschini, Mitzi Pederson, and Leslie Shows (2006); Rosana Castrillo Díaz, Simon Evans, Shaun O'Dell, and Josephine Taylor (2004); and John Bankston, Andrea Higgins, Chris Johanson, and Will Rogan (2002).

Selection Process

SECA Co-chair Marcus Keller and 2010 SECA Art Awardee Colter Jacobsen; photo: Winni Wintermeyer Photography
SECA Co-chair Marcus Keller and 2010 SECA Art Awardee Colter Jacobsen; photo: Winni Wintermeyer Photography

SFMOMA solicits nominations for the SECA Art Award from numerous local arts professionals, including directors and curators of museums, nonprofit art spaces, and galleries, independent curators, deans and instructors of art schools, arts writers, noted artists, past SECA Art Award winners, and SECA members. Finalists for the award are selected by the SECA Art Award curators — two SFMOMA assistant curators who organize the award exhibition and accompanying publication — based on a review of applications from nominated artists. Following studio visits with finalists, led by the SECA Art Award curators and open to all SECA members, the award curators select the award winners.

Artist Eligibility

To be considered for the SECA Art Award, artists must be based in the Bay Area and out of school at the time of the award announcement. Artists working in all media are considered. As studio visits are essential to the search process, artists must reside in the Bay Area and be available to meet in person with the SECA Art Award curators and SECA members. SECA members, SFMOMA employees (full-time, part-time, or on-call), and previous SECA award recipients are not eligible for consideration. The award is intended for artists who have not yet been accorded substantial institutional recognition.

Application Review

Artists recommended for the SECA Art Award are invited to submit an online application, which includes six representative images or digital files of their work, an artist statement, and a resume. For the 2012 SECA Art Award, the application included a proposal for an off-site commission. Following application reviews with SECA members, the SECA Art Award curators select finalists for studio visits to discuss their practices.

Studio Visits

Studio visits are led by the SECA Art Award curators and are open to all SECA members. The visits occur on Saturdays, with two groups of 25 to 30 people attending each artist's studio or another proposed location. Each visit lasts approximately 30 minutes. It is helpful if artists leave time for questions. The main focus should be on recent work and work in progress.

Some artists prefer to discuss their work in an exhibition space or at an installation site rather than in their studio. Every effort is made to accommodate artists' preferences and to make the visits as rewarding as possible for both artists and their visitors.

While the ultimate purpose of the studio visits is the selection of SECA Art Award winners, the process offers opportunities for artists at a relatively early stage in their careers to show their work to individuals who are active in the local arts community.

Selection of Art Award Recipients

Following the completion of all studio visits, the SECA Art Award curators select one to four winners.

Exhibition and Catalogue

The SECA Art Award exhibition and publication are handled in the same way as any other SFMOMA-generated exhibition, with the staff of SFMOMA's curatorial, exhibitions, registration, education, installation, and marketing and communications departments managing all details.

Funding for the SECA Art Award exhibition and catalogue is provided by SECA and SFMOMA.

For more information contact the SECA coordinator at 415.357.4031 or seca@sfmoma.org.