Sunday, November 11, 2012


By Ernest Disney-Britton
Noted art critic, Richard Mcbee has described Siona Benjamin's work as "simply beautiful" (see above), and you agree. Following a string of 2012 exhibitions and talks from Colorado to New York, an overwhelming majority of A&O members/subscribers joined Mcbee in voting her series, "Finding Home" as the A&O Religious Art of 2012 for breaking religious barriers to interfaith dialogue in America. Unlike previous years, where a single work has been singled out for recognition, this year Benjamin's collective work and outreach is being recognized for its impact as a catalyst for dialogue that is changing a religiously ignorant America. That's why we proudly salute this New Jersey-based artist, born in India as a Jew as the NEWS OF WEEK.

The following is a summary of the A&O Prizes for Contemporary Religious Art 2012:
  • American Artwork of Year: Siona Benjamin (above) for her "Finding Home" series [Previous Honorees]
  • Clergy Advocate of Year: Chancellor Eisen of Jewish Theologicial Seminary for proposing a new "arts integrated" path to Jewish learning. [Previous Honorees]
  • Youth Honoree | 1st Prize: Samreen Uzzama's "Life of a Shoe" photo-collage explores intersections of Islam and play. [More News]
  • Youth Honoree | 2nd Prize: Arica Simon's "Dreidel" video explores intersections of Judiasm and play.  [More News]
  • Youth Honoree | 3rd Prize: Sanjne Vinze's "Om" batik explores intersections of Hinduism and play. [More News]
Lastly, I thank the record number of A&O member-subscribers who voted for this year's A&O honorees, and acknowledge what a honor it is to share this passion for religious art and interfaith understanding with you. This year's "2012 Ballot" included an amazing set of 5 Finalists that every American needs to know, and we want to acknowledge that too. I also want to thank this year's student participants in the 3-month interfaith dialogue who were featured in yesterday's post of A&O's Executive Director, educator Verneida Britton. Their 2012 artwork currently on display at IIC Gallery (See 2011 artwork), and their verbal reflections shared yesterday during the Spirit & Place Festival were powerful, and absolutely affirmed that the work we do will be continued. Lastly, I invite your support for the annual A&O Prize for Contemporary Religious Art by making a gift today. After all, who is Contemporary Religious Art for? It's for you.