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Carol Brown Awards elevate local artists, honor national luminaries

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 8, 2017 – An in-demand costume designer and a compelling visual artist, both based in Pittsburgh, are the winners of this year’s Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards, which will be celebrated at a Dec. 4 free public event at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. The awards recognize the works and achievements of one established artist and one emerging artist and come with a $15,000 award for each, thanks to a shared commitment to the arts by The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments.

The established artist award will go to costume designer Susan Tsu, whose works have graced stages all over the world. Visual artist Sarika Goulatia will receive the emerging artist award. Candidates were nominated by artists and regional leaders in the arts, and were chosen by an independent panel of artists who reviewed applications and work samples.

“It is an honor to be recognized in the city I call home,” said Tsu, on the Established Artist Award. “Pittsburgh theatres, institutions and teachers have formed me and it is moving to have my work acknowledged. Costume designers tell stories about the human condition and as such we are as much sociologists as costumers. I am encouraging the next generation to step forward boldly, using their ideas, materials and technology to forge new design pathways, just as I have been encouraged and humbled by having my own work recognized with a Carol. R. Brown Award.”

On winning the Emerging Artist Award, Goulatia said, “I am honored and absolutely thrilled to receive the Carol R. Brown Award. I am also very humbled. The award was presented to me at a time when my morale was at an all-time low. There are so many times I have questioned – is this worth it? Where am I going with it? Why do I do what I do? The award is a validation that the art community is watching and my work matters. Getting the achievement award will hopefully help me give back to the city where I live and that I hold so dear to my heart.”

Building on a tradition begun last year to elevate the voices of artists, the awards presentation will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by David Oresick, executive director of Silver Eye Center for Photography. The program, titled "On Making: Artists LaToya Ruby Frazier, Sandra Gould Ford and Lynn Nottage discuss creativity and context," promises to be a lively and provocative discussion of labor, creativity and equity in and beyond the arts.

Western Pennsylvania artists Frazier and Ford, born a generation apart, will discuss their collaborative exhibition, On the Making of Steel Genesis, and its connection to themes from Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Sweat. The exhibition, on view at the August Wilson Center through Dec. 30, explores Ford’s work as an artist and former clerk at the J&L Steel Company, which inspired her to create a stunning archive of photographs and company documents. Frazier, Ford and Nottage are all women artists of color known for elevating the voices and representation of African American women in the arts and beyond. Frazier and Nottage are also MacArthur Foundation Fellows, as part of the program known as the “Genius Grant” awards.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Tony Norman will emcee the event. The award object is designed by sculptor Thaddeus Mosely, a former Governor’s Award Artist of the year in Pennsylvania Visual Arts, whose work has been displayed at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. Two of Mosley’s notable public art sculptures can be found in Pittsburgh’s Historic Hill District.

About Susan Tsu: Susan Tsu is an award-winning costume designer whose work has been seen in major theaters in the United States as well as venues all over the world. Her production of “The Joy Luck Club” was a first-time collaboration between the Long Wharf and Shanghai People’s Art Theatre, later touring Pacific Rim countries. Her work has been featured on television as well as theater and opera. Tsu was head of the costume programs at Boston University and the University of Texas at Austin before coming back to School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University, her alma mater. Her designs have been in numerous books and publications, and she has been honored with a number of awards, including the 2016 Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement, the NY Drama Desk, NY Drama Critics, NY Young Film Critics, LA Distinguished Designer Awards and a Kennedy Center Medal of Achievement.

About Sarika Goulatia: Sarika Goulatia is a visual artist. Her large-scale sensory sculptures and installations are diverse in theme, material, process and approach but all have a common thread: transforming ordinary objects into works of art that reflect her own determination and fortitude. This includes a large piece representing a nearly lethal prescription drug allergic reaction. Goulatia was born Gorakhpur, India and raised in Delhi; she has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in textiles from the National Institute of Fashion Technology in India. In 2002, she moved to Pittsburgh where she attended Carnegie Mellon University, earning a Bachelor of Art. Goulatia received the Sally Gehl, Samuel Rosenberg, and Elizabeth Jones Award in Humanities and Art at Carnegie Mellon University and has been awarded residency/exhibition opportunities at Neu Kirche and the Alloy at Carrie Furnace.

History of the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards: The program was conceived in 1991 as the Creative Achievement Awards by Carol R. Brown, who was president of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust from 1986 to 2001. Brown oversaw the transformation of a 14-square-block area of downtown Pittsburgh from a red-light district to a nationally recognized model for arts-based community redevelopment. The awards went on hiatus from 2002 to 2011. In 2012, as part of their Investing in Professional Artists: The Pittsburgh Region Artists Program, which supports working artists and their creative processes from concept to completion, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments resurrected the awards and renamed them the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards. The program is one of very few in the region that provide direct philanthropic support to individuals.

Year Emerging Artist Established Artist

Emerging Artist: Sarika Goulatia (multidisciplinary)
Established Artist: Susan Tsu (costume design)

Emerging Artist: Tereneh Mosley (fashion design)
Established Artist: Yona Harvey (literature)

Emerging Artist: Brett Kashmere (multidisciplinary)
Established Artist: Karla Boos (theater)

Emerging Artist: Lenka Clayton (multidisciplinary)
Established Artist: Jon Rubin (multidisciplinary)

Emerging Artist: Tami Dixon (theater)
Established Artist: Roger Humphries (music)

Emerging Artist: John Peña (visual arts)
Established Artist: Toi Derricotte (literature)

About the Ceremony: The awards ceremony will be take place Monday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m. at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. The August Wilson Center’s galleries will also be open during the event.