A national awards program, QUEER|ART|PRIZE honors the work of LGBTQ+ artists in areas of Sustained Achievement and Recent Work, with a ceremony that celebrates the entire Queer|Art community.


Queer|Art|Prize presents two $10,000 awards to LGBTQ+ artists based in the United States: one for Sustained Achievement and the other for Recent Work. The award is possible through Queer|Art’s ongoing partnership with HBO and was developed in collaboration with the Queer|Art artist community. Featuring a Nominating Committee of up to 40 esteemed arts professionals from around the country, Queer|Art|Prize confirms the impact of Queer|Art’s programming and support on a national level and immediately establishes itself as one of the most significant awards specifically created to recognize the artistry and contributions of LGBTQ+ artists.







For her perennial impact on queer culture over the course of an extensive career, on behalf of Queer|Art and the 2017 Queer|Art|Prize Nominating Committee and Judges, we hereby award Catherine Opie the 2017 Queer|Art|Prize for Sustained Achievement.

The trajectory of Catherine Opie’s career has been long and formidable. Her dedication to radical stances, both personally and in her work, has catapulted issues and stories usually relegated to the fringes to the front and center of a national conversation. The formal strength of Catherine’s work, and the scope and breadth of her subjects, has given her lasting influence as an artist while producing a powerful platform of visibility and nobility for those she depicts. Though many know her for her early portraits of queer and S&M subcultures, the subversiveness of Catherine’s use of traditional formats has carried beyond queer subject matter, exemplifying an expansive vision for her practice as well as her complexity as an individual. We are inspired by the brand of womanhood Catherine presents to the world. She is a mentor, an agitator, an activist, and a mother where motherhood is radical. As herself and with her work, Cathy has expanded the popular image of queer people in the public imagination—from the Guggenheim to the White House to the queerest corners of Los Angeles, where she calls home—and in doing so, cleared space for the full existence of our community.

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Catherine Opie was born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1961. Opie investigates the ways in which photographs both document and give voice to social phenomena in America today, registering people’s attitudes and relationships to themselves and others, and the ways in which they occupy the landscape. Opie received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute (1985), an MFA from CalArts (1988), and since 2001 has taught at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has received many awards, including the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Women’s Caucus for Art (2009); United States Artists Fellowship (2006); Larry Aldrich Award (2004); and the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts (2003). Her work has appeared in major exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2011); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2010); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008); MCA Chicago (2006); and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002). Catherine Opie lives and works in Los Angeles, California.





For doing urgent documentary and archival work, for bringing artfulness to the telling of underseen history, and for demonstrating an important emerging vision, on behalf of Queer|Art and the 2017 Queer|Art|Prize Nominating Committee and Judges, we hereby award “The Personal Things” by Tourmaline the 2017 Queer|Art|Prize for Recent Work.

When a work combines pressing political content with strikingly personal style, it merits our attention. The winning work for the Recent Work category is an extensively researched archiving of and tribute to a figure who has often been overlooked by dominant histories. While the level of specificity and rigor that marks this work is often reserved for academia, this piece remains approachable, accessible, and innovative in form. Simultaneously highly personal and highly professional, the work succeeds in a difficult balancing act of productorial polish and compelling intimacy that clearly demonstrates the artist’s dedication to the subject matter and their belief in the importance of the stories therein.

“I am so honored to be awarded with the Recent Work award. It is truly meaningful to bring the conversation back to Miss Major, who this film is about—meaningful to bring all of the people who have been relegated and denigrated into the background to the foreground. I want to say that queer art to me is about really centering the people and the voices that are most vulnerable, the people who history often forgets.Whenever we get a chance to say ‘actually your voice matters—actually, not only does your voice matter, but you’re part of the reason why we’re here today looking so fabulous’—that is a thing to celebrate.

—Tourmaline, accepting her award


Tourmaline is an activist, writer, and filmmaker. Along with Sasha Wortzel, Tourmaline wrote, directed and produced Happy Birthday, Marsha! a short film about legendary trans activist Marsha P. Johnson starring Independent Spirit Award winner Mya Taylor. A long-time community organizer, Tourmaline worked as the membership director at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project from 2010 to 2014 to lift the voice and power of trans and gender nonconforming people and helped lead the successful campaign to end healthcare discrimination against low income trans and gender nonconforming New Yorkers. She also worked at Queers for Economic Justice where she directed the Welfare Organizing Projected and produced A Fabulous Attitude, documenting low-income LGBT New Yorkers surviving inequality and thriving despite enormous obstacles. Tourmaline is a 2007 Soros Justice Fellow, a 2009 Stonewall Community Foundation Honoree, and the recipient of the 2016 Ackerman Institute Community Award. Her work has been supported by the Open Society Foundation, Art Matters Foundation, and the Astraea Foundation’s Global Arts Fund. She was a 2012-2013 Queer/Art/Mentorship fellow. Along with Eric Stanley and Johanna Burton, Tourmaline is an editor of the forthcoming New Museum anthology, Trap Door, on trans art and cultural production to be published by MIT Press in 2017.


The Finalists for the Recent Work award, honoring specific projects, include Yance Ford for Strong Island (2017), a “powerful, personal, and very disturbing” (New Yorker) documentary film about the racialized nature of Ford’s brother’s murder and the ways it was overlooked by the justice system; Tourmaline for "The Personal Things” (2016), an animated short film tribute to trans activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, released on Trans Day of Resilience/Remembrance; photographer/House of LaBeija dancer Kia LaBeija for her Self Portraits (2016-2017), expressing with profound frankness moments of both self-love and vulnerability throughout her young life as a woman of color born with HIV; and Sarah Schulman for Conflict Is Not Abuse, a “nonfiction call to shift the paradigm around how we communicate about conflict and difference…that basically everyone should read” (Bitch Media).


 Strong Island (2017) by Yance Ford


Self Portraits (2016-2017) by Kia LaBeija


"The Personal Things" (2016) by Tourmaline


Conflict is Not Abuse (2017) by Sarah Schulman


Nominations for each award were made by a diverse committee of over 40 esteemed arts professionals from around the country, including museum directors, art historians, critics, curators, musicians, visual artists, performing artists, writers, and filmmakers with various intersecting commitments to queer culture. The winner of the Sustained Achievement Award was chosen by a panel of three judges: visual and performance artist Narcissister; performance artist, activist and author Ivan Monforte; and writer and cultural critic C. Carr. The four finalists and the winner of the Recent Work award have been chosen by another panel: speculative fiction author Janani Balasubramanian; critic, curator, and Light Industry founder Ed Halter; and curator and Participant Inc. founder Lia Gangitano.

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Erin Markey

An invite-only awards ceremony on November 2 will gather guests in a space replete with performances, video, and text installations that encapsulate works from some of today’s most visionary and uncompromising artists. The night will be emceed by Erin Markey, with performances by Shea Diamond and Kia LaBeija, and a dance party with DJ May Kwok

An immersive video installation provides a tribute to the Queer|Art community, featuring work by artists who have participated in Queer|Art’s programs since 2009. Works by more than 30 of the 250+ artists who make up the ever-growing Queer|Art community will be showcased, offering a sweeping view of the vast scope of queer expression with which the organization has been affiliated. An additional installation commissioned specifically for this event—The Queer|Art Community Portrait Project—will feature a series of recent large format digital portraits of artists and organizers who are part of the Queer|Art community, by photographer Eric McNatt.