Great Rivers Biennial

contemporaryThe winners of the Great Rivers Biennial are announced. Three jurors from around the United States selected the three artists from more than 200 submissions the Contemporary received, representing a wide range of media




The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis has announced the three award recipients of the Great Rivers Biennial 2008. Designed to recognize emerging artistic talent in the greater St. Louis metro area, the Great Rivers Biennial program, funded by the Gateway Foundation, has raised each artist’s award to $20,000 from $15,000 in past years.  In addition to the award sum, each of the three winning artists will be given an exhibition at the Contemporary opening in February, 2008.  Three jurors from around the United States selected the three artists from more than 200 submissions the Contemporary received, representing a wide range of media including drawing and painting, photography, sculpture, video and new-media.  The Great Rivers Biennial 2008 exhibition will open at the Contemporary on February 1, 2008, and will run through April 20, 2007.  




Juan William Chávez

Interested in the relationships between drawing and cinema, Juan William Chávez creates series of “live-drawings” from those films that have deeply impacted his artistic practice. Producing a sequence of storyboards he then animates to video—what he calls “hyper-alive situations”—Chávez engages such universal human experiences as violence, indulgence, and desire. Chávez received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Corey EscotoDrawing from both the style and idealism of United Nations memorabilia and the Do-It-Yourself movement, Corey Escoto’s drawings, models, and displays present a complex commentary on the concept of world-reform organizations. Escoto’s self-proclaimed “self-satirical” work makes manifest the conflict between idealism and futility that occurs when endeavoring to better a troubled society. Escoto is a recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at the Washington University School of Art.  

Michelle OosterbaanIn Oosterbaan’s drawings and installations, both myth and memory play important roles. Her large-scale yet finely-detailed and complex compositions work to create “theaters of space” that integrate the viewer’s shifting perspective within these environments. Blending imagined narratives with personal experience, Oosterbaan explores both the formal and psychological relationships between line, color, and architectural space. A graduate of Washington University, Oosterbaan received her MFA in Painting from Indiana University and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Washington University’s School of Art.  




The distinguished jurors for the Great Rivers Biennial 2008 were: Cheryl Brutvan, Curator of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Lilian Tone, Assistant Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and, Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, Director and Chief Curator, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado. 




The Great Rivers Biennial is a collaboration between the Contemporary and the Gateway Foundation designed to strengthen the local art scene in St. Louis. This innovative program identifies talented emerging local artists, as well as mid-careers artists exploring new directions, and provides them with financial support as well as local and national visibility.  This will be the third round of awards since the inaugural Great Rivers Biennial in 2004.  Past winners include Jill Downen, Adam Frelin, Kim Humphries, Moses, Matthew Strauss, and Jason Wallace Triefenbach.  The distinguished jurors for past Great Rivers Biennials include Lisa Corrin, Director, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts;  Elizabeth Dunbar, Curator at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; Gary Garrels, Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Helen Molesworth, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge; Debra Singer, Executive Director and Chief Curator, The Kitchen, New York; and Hamza Walker, Education Director, Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. 




In developing its outreach and educational programs, the Contemporary aims to provide opportunities unavailable at any other regional arts organization.  The museum has earned national acclaim for its innovative programs including New Art in the Neighborhood for at-risk and talented urban youth and the Emerson Visiting Critics and Curators Series which provides free community lectures and studio visits for local artists by select critics and curators. For more information about the Great Rivers Biennial 2008 Awards Program, visit 

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