This year’s winner of the Hadley Prize for Visual Art is KCJ Szwedzinski, a graduate student at UofL’s Hite Art Institute who works in mixed media and glass.
The prestigious $5,000 award is an opportunity for local artists to enhance their careers through a targeted enrichment experience of their own design.
“My most recent body work has been on Jewish memory, identity and legacy,” said Szwedzinski. “As an artist, I am continually mindful of who I intend as my audience. I question why it is important for me to make work about Judaism and how my work connects to contemporary issues.”
Szwedzinski will use the award to visit the Jewish Contemporary Museum and the Holocaust Center in San Francisco, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Archives in Washington, D.C., and the Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as well as to take a course at the Rare Book School in Philadelphia.
“I believe that the act of remembering is a powerful tool in fostering empathy and breaking barriers of bias,” Szwedzinski said. “It’s important, now more than ever, to remind people that when true diversity is present in a community is when we all thrive.”
Louisville Visual Art honored Szwedzinski with a reception June 21.
The Hadley Prize is awarded from the George and Mary Alice Hadley Fund at the Community Foundation of Louisville. Focused on the arts and humanities, particularly visual arts, crafts, theater and the Louisville Free Public Library, the endowment has supported the community for more than 25 years.
The winner is selected through a blind process by a diverse panel of arts professionals from Louisville and the surrounding area. The 2018 prize drew 40 applicants from the greater Louisville area, including Southern Indiana, whose work demonstrated mastery in ceramics, graphic design, drawing, crafts, painting, photography, sculpture, video, film and printmaking.
“Art soothes and calms our collective souls. Art causes us to question and to think. Through the years, art has been used to tell the story of those who came before. The work of KCJ Szwedzinski is powerful and will cause those who see her work to pause and reflect on this horrific period in our history,” said LVA’s Executive Director, Lindy Casebier. “Louisville Visual Art is pleased to partner with the Community Foundation of Louisville in support of KCJ’s growth as an artist and in turn share that personal growth with others in our community.”
Szwedzinski’s itinerary has been designed to fuse personal history and artistic inspiration, “to synthesize seemingly disparate bodies of knowledge – archival practices for historical information and my personal inherited legacies.”
“This experience will broaden my ability to make work that is rooted in my own Judaic heritage,” said Szwedzinski, “while facilitating engagement of a more universal audience.”
The Hadley Prize is just one of the ways that the Community Foundation of Louisville supports local artists. Hadley Creatives is the Foundation’s six-month comprehensive professional development program for working artists that recently celebrated its inaugural class with an exhibition running through July 1 at KMAC Musuem. Five Hite graduates participated in the program and exhibition: Miranda Becht (MFA 2017), Sandra Charles (BFA 2015), Rebecca Norton (BFA 2004), Cynthia Norton (MAT 2004) and Autumn Lindsey (BFA 2017).