The Contemporary Austin Announces 2026 Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize Recipient

by Jessica Fuentes May 21, 2024

The Contemporary Austin and The FLAG Art Foundation have announced artist Sable Elyse Smith as the recipient of the 2026 Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize. Ms. Smith will receive a $200,000 award as well as a museum solo exhibition that premieres at the Contemporary in 2026 and then travels to The FLAG Art Foundation. 

In 2016, the prize was founded by The Contemporary Austin trustee Suzanne Deal Booth as an award of $100,000 in unrestricted funds. Since then, it has been awarded biannually by a rotating independent advisory committee that includes contemporary art curators and historians. In 2018, the prize was expanded when The Contemporary and The FLAG Art Foundation, a nonprofit exhibition space in New York City, partnered. The collaboration resulted in doubling the award money and the addition of The FLAG’s exhibition space as a venue for the winner’s show.  Past winners include Lubaina Himid (2024), Tarek Atoui (2022), Nicole Eisenman (2020), and Rodney McMillian (2018).

The 2026 selection committee was led by Alex Klein, the Head Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs at The Contemporary Austin, and included Dan Byers, the John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University; Valerie Cassel Oliver, the Sydney and Frances Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, the former Director of the Kunstinstiuut Melly; and Christine Y. Kim, the Britton Family Curator-at-Large for North American Art at the Tate Modern. Also on the committee was institutional advisor Jonathan Rider, the Director of The FLAG Art Foundation.

In a press release, Ms. Deal Booth remarked, “Sable is a prescient voice among her generation with a dynamic artistic background, and does not shy away from asking challenging questions. I’m eager to see how she will continue expanding the impact and possibilities of an artistic practice. It’s an honor to play a role in celebrating artists who are at an inflection point in their careers, and to support them with the platform, tools, and resources needed to access different communities and garner well-deserved exposure.”

A photograph of artist Sable Elyse Smith in her studio.

Sable Elyse Smith

Ms. Smith is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator. Working in video, sculpture, photography, text, and other mediums. Ms. Smith creates art that is rooted in conceptualism and spotlights systems of inequality in the U.S. Her work has been featured at MoMA PS1, the New Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and ICA Boston, among others. In 2022, she participated in the Whitney Biennial and the 59th Venice Biennale. She has received prestigious awards from Creative Capital, the Fine Arts Work Center, the Queens Museum, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, the Franklin Furnace Fund, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and Art Matters.

Learn more about the Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize via The Contemporary’s website.

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