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Graduate Public Practice Chair Suzanne Lacy will be honored with the 2010 Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement from the College Art Assn (CAA) on February 10. She joined Otis in 2002 as head of the fine arts department, and founded the program in public practice three years ago. The CAA citation reads: "The continuum of Suzanne Lacy’s career mirrors the history of contemporary art: performance, installation, activism, social practice, and public engagement. An internationally regarded artist whose work includes installations, video, and performance, Lacy has addressed issues of sexual violence, aging, incarceration, illness, poverty, and a range of social-justice issues for almost four decades. Beginning in the early 1970s as a student at University of California, Fresno, and then in the Feminist Art Program at California Institute for the Arts, she was an integral and pioneering member of the Women’s Studio Workshop, Woman’s Building, and other important landmarks of feminist art. Since then, Lacy has maintained a career resolute in its commitment to feminism and social change."
Lacy is best known for her work with feminist and social-justice issues, and in her four-decade career, has worked in various media, including installations, video and performance art. Her work addreses social issues such as sexual violence, poverty and incarceration. At Otis, she and her graduate students worked with residents in Laton, a small rural town in California's Central Valley. Supported by a planning grant from the Ford Foundation, the project focused on the environment, poverty, the economics of food production, and the loss of farmland. Watch video.
A new book, Suzanne Lacy Spaces Between, by Sharon Irish, surveys Lacy’s art from 1972 to the present, demonstrating the pivotal roles that Lacy has had in public art, feminist theory, and community organizing. Lacy initially used her own body—or animal organs—to visually depict psychological states or social conditions in photographs, collages, and installations. In the late 1970s she turned to organizing large groups of people into art events—including her most famous work, The Crystal Quilt, a 1987 performance broadcast live on PBS and featuring hundreds of women in Minneapolis—and pioneered a new genre of public art.