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.





Ms. Davis, in a written statement, shared her thoughts on the personal significance of receiving this award: 

"Sustained achievement can be the first leap in the mentoring process of future generations of Qu*A*re stem cells and embryos infinitum. Just don’t forget to take the A in Blackamoor and put it in the middle of Queer. Having been born and raised in Los Angeles California, the city of cars, Sustained Achievement for me means being fortunate enough to have never learned to drive a car therefore I avoided contact with law enforcement because if you drive a car you will eventually be stopped by the police and if you are stopped by the police you might get killed, so I avoided death and because of that I am able to have a very long career as an artist that now is being recognized. Hallelujah!"


For her tremendous impact on black, latinx, punk, and queer culture over the course of an extensive career, on behalf of Queer|Art and the 2018 Queer|Art|Prize Nominating Committee and Judges, we hereby award Ms. Vaginal Davis the 2018 Queer|Art|Prize for Sustained Achievement.

Vaginal Davis is a genius performer who reminds us of the true meaning of queerness in an era of homonormativity. She holds space for others with her generous spirit despite the constraints of a politically-correct realm. For her, performing political correctness is less important than how she cares about people being with each other in the room.

Vaginal Davis’s politically uncompromising artwork continues to reach and inspire an intergenerational queer audience. She takes whatever ghastly political situation we find ourselves in and confronts it with flawless wit and nerve. This practice has always spoken to the audience member who is literally on the margins of the room– not the person who paid full price for the performance, but the one who had to sneak in to witness her brilliance.

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Vaginal Davis was born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles. Davis disrupts hetero and homonormativity as an originator of the homo-core punk movement with her genderqueer art-music performances. Set apart from gallery-centered art, and Hollywood movies, Vaginal Davis’ low-budget performance, experimental film, and video practices critique exclusionary conceits from the outside. In addition, her lecture performances and films refuse to ease conservative tactics within gay and black politics. Her work has appeared in major platforms at the New Museum, New York (2017); Creative Time Summit (2017); Performa 09, New York (2009); and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2008).



For honoring queer spaces that exist within the margins, for prompting what it means for these queer establishments places to be erased, and for merging a processional performance with the issue of displacement in the city of San Francisco, on behalf of Queer|Art and the 2018 Queer|Art|Prize Nominating Committee and Judges, we hereby award “The Hook Up/Displacement/Barhopping/Drama Tour” by Xandra Ibarra the 2018 Queer|Art|Prize for Recent Work.

The processional performance is raw and immediate as a compelling masquerade that leads people through a bar history of a city with a rich queer history. The accessibility of the work provides a different kind of experience for the audience since the work is not just inside of a venue. Newcomers and people from the street along with friends are all welcome to take part with the artist in the recognition of queer history.

Vivian Crockett (left) with Xandra Ibarra (right); photo by Eric McNatt

Vivian Crockett (left) with Xandra Ibarra (right); photo by Eric McNatt

photo by Robbie Sweeney

photo by Robbie Sweeney

"Esto es un gran honor! Thank you for selecting "The Hook Up/Barhopping/Displacement/Drama Tour" for the Recent Work award. This performance, bar crawl, makeout session party was to celebrate the three decades of queer, trans latino and lesbian life that was displaced in San Francisco’s Mission district. And now I feel their spirits will be called upon forever through this award

Queer art to me is a nod to abjection, messiness, what Debra Vargas calls suciedad," Ibarra continued. "The neoliberal economy is trying to disappear and clean us up with SESTA/FOSTA, restrictive immigration policies, aggressive law enforcement, and prisons. But they can’t gentrify and disappear everything, sterilize our bodies and neighborhoods. We won’t allow them to sterilize our cities in preparation for the upwardly mobile. Bring back the drama! Let’s be messy, undisciplined, obscene, abject, hypersexual and celebrate our excess and never become normal...because who the fuck wants that!? 

Thank you for this very queer award."

-Xandra Ibarra, accepting the award

Xandra Ibarra is an Oakland-based performance artist from the US/Mexico border who sometimes works under the alias of La Chica Boom. Ibarra uses hyperbolized modes of racialization and sexualization to test the boundaries between her own body and coloniality, compulsory whiteness, and Mexicanidad. Ibarra’s work has been featured at El Museo de Arte Contemporañeo (Bogotá, Colombia), Broad Museum (LA, USA), Popa Gallery (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Joe’s Pub (NYC), PPOW Gallery (NYC), Anderson Collection (Stanford) and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF) to name a few. She has been awarded the Art Matters Grant, NALAC Fund for the Arts, ReGen Artist Fund, and the Franklin Furnace Performance and Variable Media Award. Her work has been featured in Artforum, Hyperallergic, Huffington Post, ArtNews and in various academic journals nationally and internationally. She is currently curating a year long performance art series at The Broad Museum (LA) with Nao Bustamante entitled EN CUATRO PATAS. As a community organizer, Ibarra’s work is located within feminist immigrant, anti-rape and prison abolitionist movements. Since 2003, she has actively participated in organizing with INCITE!, a national feminist of color organization dedicated to creating interventions at the intersection of state and interpersonal violence. She currently lectures within the Critical Studies program at California College of the Arts.






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 Elegance Bratton for My House (2018), a ten-part documentary series on Vice that follows the best voguers in the world as they prepare for competition; Rafa Esparza for cumbre: look as far as you can see in every direction–north and south, east and west (2018), a response to his personal, familial histories of immigration into the United States and the deeply complex history of downtown Los Angeles; keyon gaskin for [a swatch of lavender]: a self portrait (2018), a series of self-portrait performances choreographed in the artists’ apartment in Portland, Oregon, recontextualized for contemporary gallery spaces; and Xandra Ibarra for The Hook Up/Displacement/Barhopping/Drama Tour (2017), a community performance tour and bar crawl of the former sites of San Franciscan queer clubs and venues.

My House  (2018)  by Elegance Bratton

My House (2018)
by Elegance Bratton

[a swatch of lavender]: a self portrait  (2018)  by keyon gaskin

[a swatch of lavender]: a self portrait (2018)
by keyon gaskin

cumbre: look as far as you can see in every direction–north and south, east and west  (2018) by Rafa Esparza

cumbre: look as far as you can see in every direction–north and south, east and west (2018) by Rafa Esparza

The Hook Up/Displacement/Barhopping/Drama Tour  (2017)  by Xandra Ibarra

The Hook Up/Displacement/Barhopping/Drama Tour (2017)
by Xandra Ibarra


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 20 esteemed arts professionals from around the country, including arts residency directors, art historians, critics, curators, choreographers, cultural organizers, visual artists, performing artists, teaching artists, writers, producers, directors, and filmmakers with various intersecting commitments to queer culture. The winner of the Sustained Achievement Award was chosen by a panel of three judges: Melissa Anderson, Ted Kerr, and An Duplan. The four finalists and the winner of the Recent Work award have been chosen by another panel: kara lynch, Allen Frame, and Mx. Oops.



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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Moe Angelos (left) and Ryan Haddad (right)

Moe Angelos (left) and Ryan Haddad (right)

The 2017-2018 Queer|Art|Mentorship Annual opened with a public reception that happened on Thursday, November 1, hosted by performance and theater artists Moe Angelos and Ryan Haddad, who have worked closely together throughout the past year as Mentor and Fellow. The reception occasioned the production and preview of the 2018 Queer|Art Community Portrait Project, presented as part of an annual series of newly commissioned portraits spotlighting Queer|Art’s diverse and vibrant community of over 150 artists. This year’s commission was given to photographer Lia Clay. The reception continued with the awards announcements for the 2018 Queer|Art|Prize and concluded with a dance party with DJ Sissy Elliott bringing the epic night of queer revelry, sweat, and celebration to its climax.



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.