Anonymous Was A Woman Award
The Anonymous Was A Woman Award is a program that awards grants to women artists who are over 40 years of age, in part to counter sexism in the art world. It began in 1996 in direct response to the National Endowment for the Arts' decision to stop funding individual artists.
The award comes with a grant of $25,000 and is designed to enable exceptional woman artists to further develop their work. Awardees are chosen on the basis of their past accomplishments, their originality and artistic growth, and the quality of their work. Since 1996, some 220 women have received the award and approximately 5.5 million USD has been awarded in total.
The award was founded by a New York artist who originally chose to remain anonymous. She named the award in reference to a line from Virginia Woolf’s book A Room of One’s Own and in recognition of all the women artists through the ages who have remained anonymous for various reasons. Nominators, who include art writers, curators, art historians, and previous winners, are likewise unnamed.
In July 2018, the artist Susan Unterberg was revealed as both the founder and funder of the award. Before 2018, she had remained anonymous so that her artwork would be evaluated in its own context, without being influenced by her contributions. In an interview, she described her reasons for coming forward, stating "It’s a great time for women to speak up. I feel I can be a better advocate having my own voice," and that she can now work openly to further the organization's cause and to encourage philanthropists and women artists. On top of the awarded grants, Unterberg is considering other forms of programs, possibly seminars, to complement the grants.
Listed below are the winners of the award.
- Dotty Attie - Painting
- María Magdalena Campos-Pons - Photography, performance, painting, sculpture, film, and video
- Patty Chang - Performance, video, writing, installation
- Beverly Fishman - Painting
- Kate Gilmore - Installation, video, performance
- Heather Hart - Multi-disciplinary
- Deborah Roberts - Mixed media
- Rocío Rodríguez - Painting
- Michèle Stephenson - Film
- Betty Tompkins - Painting
- Nancy Bowen - Sculpture and drawing
- Martha Diamond - Painting
- Stephanie Jackson - Painting
- Jennie C. Jones - Mixed-media
- Marisa Morán Jahn - Sculpture, film, video, public art, performance
- Amalia Mesa Bains - Visual art
- Amy Sherald - Painting
- Michelle Stuart - Visual art
- Mia Westerlund Roosen - Sculpture
- Carrie Yamaoka - Visual art
- "The Award". Anonymous Was A Woman website.
- Dobrzynski, Judith H. "Anonymous Gifts for Art, So Women Creating It Aren't". New York Times, Oct. 12, 1997.
- Pogrebin, Robin (2018-07-20). "She Gave Millions to Artists Without Credit. Until Now". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
- Nechamkin, Sarah (2018-07-20). "Woman Who Anonymously Gave Millions to Female Artists Reveals Herself". The Cut. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
- Cascone, Sarah (2018-07-25). "'The Reaction Has Been Overwhelming': Susan Unterberg Comes Forward as a Major Anonymous Patron of Female Artists". artnet News. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
- "Recipients to Date". Anonymous Was A Woman. Retrieved 2018-07-27.