Gulf Coast, a student-run, non-profit journal of literature and fine arts out of University of Houston’s English Department, has announced that Ra Malika Imhotep is the winner of the magazine’s 2019 Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing, for her essay “On Retrieval.” This is the third year of the prize, which supports writers early in their careers, and recognizes art writers who stand out by employing scholarship and journalism, a unique voice, and literary excellence.
On the essay, states Jessica Lynne, a founding editor of ARTS.BLACK, an online journal of art criticism from Black perspectives, and a judge of the prize: “This essay on Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle begins with a conjuring, and the writer does the rigorous, deft work of bearing witness to Hinkle’s transmissions. With a close reading of the recordings of disappeared Black women, who comprise Hinkle’s series The Evanesced, for example, as well as an astute assessment of the artist’s cosmology, Kentifrica, we as readers must reckon with the myriad ways that we are implicated in the tasks, responsibility, and obligation of seeing Black women in a manner that calls attention to, as the writer notes, ‘the expensive myths’ that mark their pathways.” Lynne continues, “This essay grounds Hinkle’s gestures in an ecology of cultural and spiritual production, from Saidiya Hartman to Zora Neale Hurston to Yoruba Egungun, as a way of naming the aesthetic terrain Hinkle traverses. This essay is as unflinching as it is careful, the result of what it means to be embedded within the many textures of an artist’s practice.”
There were two runners up: Philip Wesley Gates for “Being Free and Being Food: Consumption and Resistance at zürich moves! 2019,” and Wenting Tao for “How the Curatorial Stereotyping of Chinese Art Essentializes the Work of Zheng Guogu.”
From Gulf Coast:
Imhotep is a Black feminist writer and performance artist from Atlanta, Georgia, currently pursuing a doctoral degree in African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, with a Designated Emphasis in New Media. Her academic and creative work tends the relationships among Black femininity, southern vernacular aesthetics, and the performance of labor. In addition to being the co-convener of the embodied spiritual-political education project, The Church of Black Feminist Thought, and a member of the curatorial collective, The Black Aesthetic, she was a 2019 Omi Arts “Creative Arts Practice” Artist-in-Residence at Ashara Ekundayo Gallery and a 2019 DAMLI Fellow at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
For more on the Toni Beauchamp prize, and Gulf Coast, please visit its website here.