Student Neil Maitland chose Ruais for her "strong art-historical references together with her process of building on the legacy of action painters". Brie Ruais creates large-scale ceramic sculptures using her own body-weight in clay, working on the floor without tools.
Brie Ruais, 'Night'
The award sees students in the Connoisseurship seminar, which is part of the MA in Modern and Contemporary Art and the Market in New York, scout emerging talent, meeting with artists at open studios and exhibitions before selecting one to represent. Neil Maitland commented on the initial process, "I visited artist studios and MFA exhibitions to learn how artists are working today and addressing the issues of our times."
In addition to this years’ winner Brie Ruais, other chosen artists included Rachelle Dang, Ma Haijiao and Sarah FitzSimons.
Finalist Emma Payne explained that she was first drawn to the work of her shortlisted artist Rachelle Dang after speaking to her at her studio. "Dang spent time explaining the preliminary work that went into her pieces. I loved hearing about all she had learned during her research about the colonization of Hawaii."
Students in the Connoisseurship seminar presented the case for their chosen artist to an expert panel of alumni judges including Leah Triplett Harrington, Boston-based independent art critic and curator; Laura Lester, Director of the Kasmin Gallery in New York; Mollie Flanagan, Administrative Manager for the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISPC) in New York; and Maria Carlota Perez-Appelbaum, art advisor and Senior Curator for the Juan Carlos Maldonado Art Collection in Miami.
The Alumni Association Award for Contemporary Connoisseurship is a key element of the seminar, enabling students to develop their eye, get to know emerging talent, and to develop their presentational skills in the presence of art world professionals. Finalist Magdalena Hernandez Martin remarked on the process, “I built on the knowledge I acquired in the Connoisseurship seminar and used this information to identify trends in the art world. I learned to be resourceful and observant and to follow my intuition.”