Pollock-Krasner Foundation Awards Shahzia Sikander Pollock Prize for Creativity

New York, NY – January 17, 2023 – The Pollock-Krasner Foundation announced today that the Pollock Prize for Creativity is awarded to Shahzia Sikander, a visual artist examining language, empire, and migration through feminist perspectives, questioning colonial and imperial power structures. The $50,000 award honors Sikander’s multimedia exhibition, Havah…to breathe, air, life, at Madison Square Park and at the neighboring Courthouse of the Appellate Division, First Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The work is Sikander’s first major, site-specific outdoor exhibition in sculptural form and will be on view from January 17 through June 4, 2023, before traveling to Houston, Texas.

The Pollock Prize for Creativity was established by the Foundation in 2016 to honor Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock’s legacy and is awarded to an artist whose work embodies high creative standards and has a substantive impact on individuals and society.

Havah…to breathe, air, life features two new large-scale sculptures by Sikander—one within the park that can be animated through augmented reality and another atop the Courthouse rooftop, the first female figure to adorn one of its ten plinths—as well as a recent video animation that will visually link the distinct elements. The exhibition, a culmination of Sikander’s exploration of female representation in monuments, is co-commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy and Public Art of the University of Houston System (Public Art UHS).

“The Pollock Prize for Creativity honors artists who make a difference in how we understand our world, our communities, and ourselves,” said Ronald D. Spencer, Chairman and CEO of Pollock-Krasner Foundation. “Shahzia Sikander creates thought-provoking works that probe questions about representation, power, and justice, and with this Prize we recognize her continuing focus on issues that resonate throughout history. We are pleased to help bring her new work to audiences and visitors in New York.”

“Representation of women as active agents in traditionally patriarchal spaces, and especially spaces that are centered on delivering justice and adjudicating power, is a much-needed restorative in civic life,” said Shahzia Sikander. “Havah…to breathe, air, life both raises the question of why only men have been depicted as lawgivers and enables us to imagine women not simply as Lady Justice with her scales, but as active thinkers and participants in this sphere. To be recognized by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation for my body of work—and to receive their support for Havah…to breathe, air, life—is an honor.”

The Pollock-Krasner Foundation was established in 1985 through the generosity of Lee Krasner to provide grants to artists that allow them to create new work. The Pollock Prize for Creativity was launched in 2016 and previous winners include Beili Liu, Gideon Mendel, Amy Sherald, and Todd Williamson. The Foundation also honors artists with the Lee Krasner Award, recognizing a lifetime of distinguished artistic achievement. Recipients of the Lee Krasner Award have included Mel Chin, Chris Drury, Alfred Leslie, Don Nice, Morgan O’Hara, and Masami Teraoka. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded $85 million to nearly 5,000 grantees in 79 countries. These grants can be used by artists to create new work and prepare exhibitions.

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Shahzia Sikander (American, b. Pakistan 1969) expands and subverts pre-modern and classical Central and South-Asian painting traditions through a broad range of materials and methods, including miniature painting, works on paper, video, mosaic, and sculpture. Distinguished for launching the neo-miniature movement, Sikander investigates conceptual premises in language, trade, empire, migration through feminist perspectives, colonial, and imperial power structures through her far-reaching practice.

Sikander’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her traveling exhibition on the first 15 years of her art practice, Extraordinary Realities, opened at The Morgan Library in New York in 2021 and traveled to the RISD Museum and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Shahzia Sikander: Unbound, opened in 2021 at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, and explored the artist’s innovative use of manuscripts.

Sikander is a 2006 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and received the United States Medal of Arts in 2012. The artist became a Fukuoka Laureate in 2022 as a recipient of the Arts and Culture Prize from Fukuoka City, Japan. She earned her B.F.A. from National College of Arts in Lahore, an M.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design, and participated in Glassell School of Art’s CORE Program at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


For more than three decades, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation has supported working artists and not-for-profit organizations internationally. Established in 1985 through the generosity of Lee Krasner, one of the foremost abstract expressionist painters of the 20th century, the Foundation is a leader in providing resources to emerging and established artists. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly 5,000 grants totaling $85 million in 79 countries. For more information, including guidelines for grant applications, visit the Foundation’s website: www.pkf.org.

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