Credit: Minnesota Street Project
Credit: Minnesota Street Project
Credit: Minnesota Street Project
Credit: Minnesota Street Project
Credit: Minnesota Street Project

Past Awardees

Ajit Chauhan - 2019-2020

Ajit Profile Photo
Ajit Chauhan lives in the sanctuary city of San Francisco, California. His work has been exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery in London, White Columns NY, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, the Berkeley Art Museum, UC Davis Museum, the Grimm Museum in Berlin, the SONS Museum in Kruishoutem, Belgium, Jack Hanley Gallery, Annarumma Gallery Naples, SVIT Praha and others, recently at the KMAC Museum in Louisville, Kentucky and the Fused Space exhibition Seven Places of the Mind curated by Margaret Tedesco.

2019-2020 Finalists

Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo
Nicki Green
Maria Paz Gajardo Olmedo
Dionne Lee


Kim Anno (Artist and Educator)
Ed Gilbert (Owner/Director Anglim Gilbert Gallery)
Larry Rinder (Director and Chief Curator, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive)

Indira Allegra - 2018-2019

Indira Allegra is a performance artist, sculptor and writer. She uses text/ile production to shuttle between social intervention, memorial and an obsession with unseen forces like memory, haunting and emotions born from trauma. Allegra conceives of weaving as the crossing of any two forces held under tension and is curious to explore how this ancient technology can offer contemporary insights into human patterns. She works with tension as creative material in physical, social, and emotional forms.

Allegra has been honored with the Mike Kelley Artist Project Grant, Jackson Literary Award, Lambda Literary Fellowship, and Windgate Craft Fellowship. Her work has been featured on BBC Radio 4 and Surface Design Magazine. Her commissions include works for SFMOMA, de Young Museum, The Wattis Institute, City of Oakland, and SFJAZZ Poetry Festival. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at The Arts Incubator in Chicago, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Center for Craft Creativity and Design, Catharine Clark Gallery, Weinberg/Newton and The Alice Gallery among others. She has screened works at the Seattle Art Museum, MIX NYC, Bologna Lesbian Film Festival and Outfest Fusion.

Indira’s writing has been widely anthologized, and she has contributed works to Foglifter Magazine, Cream City Review, HYSTERIA Magazine, make/shift Magazineand Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art and Thought, among others. She has been a visiting artist at Southern Denmark University and is a former Shelly Osborne visiting artist at UC Berkeley and Art + Process + Ideas Visiting Artist at Mills College.

2018-2019 Finalists

Leonie Guyer
Amy Ho
Sophie Ramos
May Wilson


Kevin Chen (Artist, Curator, Administrator, Educator)
Apsara DiQuinzio (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and Phyllis C. Wattis |MATRIX Curator, BAMPFA)
Katrina Traywick (Director/Owner Traywick Contemporary)

Marcela Pardo Ariza - 2017-2018

Marcela Pardo Ariza explores the relationship of wry humor, queerness and representation through color sets and prop-like objects. Her photographs incorporate quotidian objects in seemingly absurd ways, creating tableaux that mix recognizable elements with magical realism. Pardo Ariza is interested in the action of looking within the theatricality of “the set,” and her visually provoking portraits seek to explore metaphors regarding race and gender.

Pardo Ariza received her MFA in Photography from San Francisco Art Institute in 2016, following undergraduate studies at Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana. She is from Bogotá, Colombia and has worked as a Curatorial Assistant at the Clocktower Gallery (Manhattan, NY), a co-Director at the Swell Gallery (San Francisco, CA) and Co-Founder/Director of NoRoof Gallery (San Francisco, CA. Pardo has curated shows at Cranium Corporation (San Francisco, CA); Residence/SF (San Francisco, CA); and CTRL+SHFT collective (Oakland, CA). Her photographic work has been shown at Glasshouse (Brooklyn, NY); SOMArts (San Francisco, CA), Embark Gallery (San Francisco, CA), Zoo Labs, guest curated by Et al. (San Francisco, CA); and Root Division (San Francisco, CA).

2017-2018 Finalists

Indira Allegra
Sofía Córdova
Whitney Lynn
Minoosh Zomorodinia


Hesse McGraw (San Francisco Art Institute)
Lava Thomas (Artist)
Tanya Zimbardo (SFMOMA)

Sandra Ono - 2016-2017

Sandra Ono’s sculptural work is informed by biology and physiology. Her choice of materials and forms arise from interests in the consequences of what we consume, and inversely, what consumes us.  She frequently employs synthetic and ubiquitous, utilitarian products such as plastic bags, re-contextualizing these materials to create non-functioning, organic and corporeal forms which examine experiences of the human body, granting dimension to internal states.

Sandra Ono received her MFA from Mills College, following undergraduate studies at UC Davis and Imperial College, London.   She has shown her work in exhibitions locally and nationally at venues such as Southern Exposure, Stephen Wirtz Gallery, Incline Gallery, Electric Works, Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Transmitter gallery in Brooklyn and in solo shows at Conduit Gallery in Dallas, Texas.   Ono currently serves as visiting faculty lecturer at Mills College and has been awarded artist residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts, University of Texas at Dallas CentralTrak, Kala Art Institute, Southern Exposure and the Vermont Studio Center.

2016-2017 Finalists

Erica Deeman
Sarah Lee
Leah Rosenberg
Kate Short


Catharine Clark (Catharine Clark Gallery)
Hung Liu (Professor Emerita, Mills College)
Stephen Beal (President, California College of the Arts)


This Year's Award

Nyame Profile Photo

This Year’s Awardee: Nyame O. Brown

Nyame O. Brown is a visual artist born in San Francisco, living in Oakland, working as an Art Educator and professional Artist in the media of painting and installation.

Brown received his BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and MFA from Yale School of Art and Architecture. His paintings and installations address the Black imagination as a space for new ways to perceive Diaspora, not just through unity and similarities, but also by looking at the dynamics of difference to further comprehension. Building narratives like scaffolding around art historical references, Hip Hop, and personal history, he draws on these precedents as a fluid source of reference rather than a fixed and linear projection.

Brown pursues his complex themes through serial bodies of work, sourcing from a rich legacy of folklore, cultural practices and symbols, in which allegories and events interact with visions of future potentiality to make paintings of contemporary black mythologies: “My storytelling functions culturally, and the tradition calls for expanding the idiom through improvisation, riffing, and rupturing. By articulating personal history and African Diaspora-multi-threaded history, without precluding the Western cannon, I strategically locate myself within these legacies while engaging anachronistically to create new connections and associations. Creating new allegories for these characters opens an unexplored space for perception of black people, by whites and blacks.”

He has been the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award, and the Richard Dreihaus Foundation Individual Artist Award, as well as a site-specific public commission for the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, for which he executed a double portrait of Malcolm X and the artist Jack Whitten. His participation in Theaster Gates’ “Black Artist Retreat” in Chicago was followed by residencies at the Headlands Center for the Arts (for work on his project “The Mapping of Aaron,” a model for radical Blackness), Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, and the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans.  Brown was recently honored with a solo Emerging Artist exhibition at The Museum of the African Diaspora, and has held solo exhibitions across the US, notably at the Hearst Museum at St. Mary’s College (“John Henry’s adventures in a Post Black world”) and the West Virginia University Art Museum.  He has actively participated in group exhibitions in a variety of spaces in California, Illinois, Michigan and New York, and his work has been curated for inclusion at the Museum of Harlem, NY and the Prizm Art Fair at the Mana Contemporary in Miami.  He also took part with Carrie Mae Weems in the symposium “The Interrogation of Forms: The Changing Culture in America” at The Armory in New York.

Nyame Brown considers pedagogy a part of his studio practice, often pursuing varied community engagements in combination with his own work. While Artist in Residence at Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, he experimented with cut paper and painting installation in his series New Black Myths and engaged local youth in creating Afrofuturist symbols as part of a shared work for public exhibition. He has served as visiting faculty and lecturer at colleges including the Chicago Art Institute, St. Mary’s College, and the University of Notre Dame, while also working in varied community settings and after school programs.


Shaghayegh Cyrous
Rodney Ewing
Rebecca Kaufman
Danny Lulu


Trish Bransten (Director, Rena Bransten Gallery)
Renè de Guzman (Senior Curator of Art for the Oakland Museum of California)
Lucy Puls (Artist, and Professor of Art, University of California, Davis)