The art activist collective FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture won the $25,000 Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.
Before the award was announced, Jack Lewin of M&T Bank, one of the sponsors for the prize, said that art is a "vital part of Baltimore City's continuing renaissance," and that it can "build bridges among diverse communities."
In their display in the Sondheim finalist exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art, FORCE presented pieces of their Monument Quilt, an ongoing project that travels nationally to different cities and communities to create public healing space for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. A key phrase that encompasses their installation reads: "Rape is not a special interest issue that affects a few people. Rape is a social justice issue that affects everyone."
Co-founders Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato took the podium and began by congratulating the other six finalists on their work.
"[The Monument Quilt] is a very collaborative project," Brancato continued. "Many of you in the audience have participated in the Monument Quilt or seen the Monument Quilt when it was on display. Many more hands went into making what you see in the gallery than ours."
They thanked FORCE's studio manager Shanti Flagg, video editor David Sloan, Melani Douglass, who organized the performance that took place at the museum on June 24, and the people who performed.
"We hope that art institutions like the BMA continue to show artwork like this," Nagle added, acknowledging the other finalists' political work. "Giving the issue of sexual violence and domestic violence this kind of platform is really important."