The British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE will receive the Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s 2022 International Artist Award on 14 July at its recognition dinner in Snowmass Village, Colorado. The 25th honouree, Shonibare joins illustrious past recipients, including Nick Cave, Ai Weiwei, Carrie Mae Weems, Frank Stella, Theaster Gates, Cindy Sherman and last year’s awardee, recent Venice Biennale Golden Lion winner, Simone Leigh.
“I found Yinka Shonibare to be the perfect artist of this moment in time to think about the world globally, and to consider issues of the post-colonial, coming from London to the Ranch,” says newly appointed curator-in-residence Douglas Fogle of the committee’s selection of Shonibare, celebrated for his examinations of race, immigration and cultural identity, most notably in his sculptural mannequins and library installations of hardback books, all adorned in Dutch wax print fabrics. Fogle, the former deputy director of exhibitions and chief curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, is embarking on an 18-month tenure at the Ranch, following inaugural curator-in-residence Helen Molesworth.
With an artist colony-meets-summer camp vibe, the nonprofit arts centre hosts year-round extensive workshops for the local community and international artists, as well as extended residencies across eight media and disciplines, from photography and sculpture to woodturning and furniture design. Founded in 1966 by American raku ceramist Paul Soldner on a former sheep ranch, the centre comprises 14 structures, most of which are studios.
Despite its remote location in the Rocky Mountains near Aspen, the five-acre campus has emerged as a significant draw for heavyweight collectors from Los Angeles, Miami and New York alongside philanthropists, curators and critics for its annual summer series, an ever-growing art world symposium with a unique focus on craftsmanship. The five-week programme includes the award and recognition dinner, as well as a wide slate of artists—which this summer will include Marylin Minter, Jesse Krimes, Tony Lewis, Jeff Wall, Liz Larner and Maysha Mohamedi—in conversation with influential leaders, all open to the public, in addition to classes on everything from spoon carving and monoprinting to majolica glazing.
As the honouree, Shonibare will present a lecture at the Ranch. “Language is intrinsically linked to the visual,” says Shonibare of dialogues between artists. “I think it’s very important that the artists can actually help guide the audience by giving them more context, so they understand where the art actually sits.” He adds: “Art can be a sound piece or a visual piece. Art really does engage all of the human senses. So speech and conversation is a continuation of the actual work.”
Anderson Ranch’s core mission as an unencumbered place of artmaking also speaks to Shonibare, who recently unveiled his new artists’ residency space, Ecology Green Farm, in remote south-western Nigeria. “Residencies are crucial for the development of an artist. When you are not in a residency, you are worrying about your rent and everyday things,” he says. “When you go to a residency, you have a space in which you can just focus on your work. And most importantly, you are meeting other creatives and new artists. Having that network of friends and support is also very good for your work.”