The Current, An Artist Award Awardees
The award selection was made by Final Juror Jas Keimig, an arts writer and critic based in Seattle. “All artists engage with the ideas of form and design — but a potter must also think about functionality, the way their objects fit in with our daily lives,” Keimig said. “Tacoma potter Kristina Batiste forges new paths in that respect, crafting her exquisite, minimalist work in such a way that makes the viewer think about how we imbue our own histories into the objects we use to eat, drink, and entertain. “Clay holds memory, as Kristina likes to say,” Keimig noted. Drawing from the rich tradition of African and Black American potters, Batiste furthers the lineage through her work that conscientiously references the lived experiences of African diasporic peoples. In the form of water jars, abstracted oyster shell-shaped sharing bowls, and cups as Kristina Batiste protest ware, Batiste meditates on the meanings of Juneteenth, Black Lives Matter, and the importance of ceremony. The artist references the ideas of the diaspora not only through design but in the act of creating batches of pottery. While every piece is shaped by her own hand and fired alongside one another in the same kiln, they live in different homes and businesses, generating their own uses, meanings, and rituals. “Batiste’s work underlines our interconnectedness and how the objects we surround ourselves with speak to us through their shape, material, interactions with light, and shadow. All we must do is simply pay attention,” Keimig said.
Meet The Current, An Artist Award 2023
Awardee Kristina Batiste is a minimalist potter and ceramic artist. Prior to ceramics she worked as a writer and editor, in graphic design, and higher education, and is currently a part-time librarian. The through line of her career has been a focus on distilling information into simple, memorable forms and ruthless editing. Age, gender, and experience inform her practice, and inspirations include modernist art and architecture, literature, and nature. She loves a line, and will someday pick a favorite between porcelain, red, brown, buff, and black clay. Batiste has been featured in “Black American Ceramic Artists” published by Schiffer, an article in Ceramics Monthly, and was the subject of a segment in Hulu’s “Your Attention Please” documentary series. She is also the co-founder of the Tacoma Pottery Salon, a mostly monthly gathering of potters. Learn more about Batiste and her work at www.juniper-clay.com
Meet the final juror
Jas Keimig is a writer and critic based in Seattle. They previously worked on staff at The Stranger, covering visual art, film, music, and stickers. Their work has also appeared in Crosscut, South Seattle Emerald, Variable West, The Seattle Times, i-D, Netflix, and The Ticket. They co-write Unstreamable for Scarecrow Video, a column and screening series highlighting films you can’t find on streaming services.
Museum. The Current, An Artist Award is an annual, unrestricted honor providing financial and institutional support to a Black artist living and working in the Tacoma area.
McKinney will receive a $15,000 unrestricted gift. Additionally, he has the option of receiving various forms of support from TAM. Whether career and artistry support or designing a program, all would include the full support of the museum’s facilities, staff expertise, and labor. This dual investment champions McKinney directly and proliferates resources for the artist’s community, providing resources and strengthening networks that make creating art easier for Black artists.
The selection was made by Final Juror Cristina Martinez, a contemporary visual artist from Tacoma, Washington, who is based in Seattle. “The comprehension of the African American experience could hardly be characterized through the stewardship of composite material, Martinez shared. “Yet, Darrell McKinney has represented storytelling in an immersive experience; composing his cement paste into forms that cure to a complete. His artistry lies in his ability to mold fine vessels into pieces that are deliberate, and careful. McKinney pushes the boundaries of what concrete is historically associated with, in the African American community. It is an encounter with nostalgia; with emotions that permeate long after McKinney has finished creating. His idiomatic approach to finding harmony with his medium is conveyed in the object permanence of his work. McKinney has mastered the feeling of craftsmanship and pride in one’s art. Representing emotional qualities under the practice of molding is a reminder that art is a gift to those who accept its call. McKinney has received this pursuit with the intention of spreading this proverb to those who walk without. He has mastered and cradled this key attribute to disseminate to his peers. Undeniably, his composition is an extension of sculpture and architecture; and in that, it presents as an extension of himself.”
McKinney pushes the boundaries of what concrete is historically associated with, in the African American community. It is an encounter with nostalgia; with emotions that permeate long after McKinney has finished creating.
-Cristina Martinez, Final Juror
McKinney was one of two finalists for The Current, An Artist Award. He and Kenya Shakoor, the other finalist, were selected by three regional nominators: Jamika Scott, Kemi Adeyemi, and Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes. All three are Black artists and art administrators with expertise in the visual arts from across Washington state. Each nominator was asked to propose the name of a Black Tacoma artist whose work demonstrates excellence in execution. As runner-up, Shakoor received $1,000 in unrestricted funds.
Get to Know Darrell Mckinney
Darrell McKinney is a Tacoma-based interdisciplinary artist. His practice explores the intersections across design, art, and architecture. The work speaks to how design can be utilized to explore the complexities of politics, race, and social infrastructure through the interconnectedness of history, people, and places.
He received a Master of Design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been featured in exhibitions at EXPO (Chicago) and internationally at Salone Del Mobile (Milan), Spazio Rossana Orlandi (Milan), and the Venice Architecture Biennale. He was the recipient of fellowships and awards such as the Greg Kucera & Larry Yocom Fellowship Award (2022), A Tale of Today Emerging Artist Fellowship for the Richard H. Driehaus Museum (2019), Hilltop Lasting Legacy Fellowship (2020), and the Design Council Award (2018).
Currently, McKinney’s work spans spatial design, object design, and social practice. He continues to explore the built environment and the objects that populate it, exploring issues varying in scale: a community, a building, housewares, and people.
“McKinney’s multidisciplinary and conceptual practice stands out in the city’s largely 2D and figurative field,” Adeyemi noted in her artist nomination.
“McKinney has a body of work that I am confident in and deserves to have his undertakings underwritten further,” nominator Alley-Barnes said.
Meet the Final Juror
Cristina Martinez is a contemporary visual artist based in Seattle, WA. Her career started in fashion school before she explored self-expression through painting. Cristina’s work is rooted in telling the often-overlooked stories of Black and Brown people, encouraging them to water themselves to bloom and grow.
Cristina’s work has been part of numerous solo and group exhibitions in Seattle and Los Angeles such as Flowstate, Mothership Gallery (Seattle, 2018), Two Sides to Every Story (Los Angeles, 2020), Band of Vices Mescaline (Los Angeles, 2021), BOTHO Art Collective (Los Angeles, 2022), Diptych (Seattle, 2022), Forest for The Trees (Seattle, 2022). Cristina has created original works of art for global companies and brands including the World Trade Center, Nordstrom, Netflix, Disney, BET and many more.