The High Museum of Art has just announced scholar Kirsten Pai Buick as the recipient of its 2015 David C. Driskell Prize. Buick receives $25,000 and will be honored at a black tie dinner at the High on May 2. She is an associate professor of art history at the University of New Mexico, where she has taught American art for 14 years. She specializes in “African-American art, the impact of race and gender on the history of art, representations of the American landscape, and the history of women as patrons and collectors of the arts,” according to a High press release.
Founded in 2005, the Driskell Prize was established to recognize an early or midcareer scholar or artist for contributions to the field of African-American art or art history. Buick was chosen by a review committee that included High curator Michael Rooks; Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and the 2013 Driskell Prize winner; and Lauren Haynes, assistant curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Born and raised in Chicago, Buick earned a BA from the University of Chicago, where she double-majored in art history and Italian literature. After living in Italy for eight months in the early 1990s, she decided to focus on British colonial and U.S. art.
Her book Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject, about the 19th-century sculptor, was published by Duke University Press in 2010, and she is currently completing her second book, In Authenticity: Kara Walker and the Eidetics of Racism. She has also written about such artists as Daniel Coburn, Patrick Nagatani, Joseph Delaney, Aaron Douglas, Horace Pippin and Kehinde Wiley.
In addition to Brownlee, previous recipients include Lyle Ashton Harris (2014), Rashid Johnson (2012), Valerie Cassel Oliver (2011), Renée Stout (2010), Krista A. Thompson (2009), Xaviera Simmons (2008), Franklin Sirmans (2007), Willie Cole (2006) and Dr. Kellie Jones (2005).