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Anonymous Was A Woman Names Suchitra Mattai Among 2023 Winners

By Maximilíano Durón

Anonymous Was A Woman, the grant-making nonprofit that has awarded over $7 million to women-identifying artists since 1996, has named the 15 winners of its 2023 grants. Each recipient will receive an unrestricted prize of $25,000 each.

This year’s winners, who are nominated and then selected by a five-person jury (both anonymous), include Suchitra Mattai, Carolina Caycedo, Liz Collins, Stanya Kahn, Athena LaTocha, Candice Lin, Dindga McCannon, linn meyers, Erika Ranee, Amanda Ross-Ho, Drew Shiflett, Cauleen Smith, Steffani Jemison, Barbara Kasten, and Saya Woolfalk. Typically, AWAW gives out ten awards annually, but this year three of the prizes were funded by Meraki Artist Award, an initiative by an anonymous Boston philanthropist, while the other two by anonymous donors.

“This year’s nominations were particularly impressive,” artist and AWAW founder Susan Unterberg, who does not sit on the jury, told ARTnews. “Hopefully, the world will see more of their work in the coming years. The winners are a really exciting group, not completely unknown if you look at their resumes, but I would say they are unknown to most people—their names aren’t getting big prices and they aren’t the ones we hear about, which seems to skew the idea that women aren’t doing so well.”

The list of nearly 300 past recipients is a who’s who of today’s leading artists, many of whom received the award at critical points in their careers. Among them are Carrie Mae Weems (2007), Cecilia Vicuña (1999), Mickalene Thomas (2013), Joan Semmel (2007), Betye Saar (2004), Senga Nengudi (2005), Lynn Hershman Leeson (2014), and the late Laura Aguilar (2000).

Unterberg, who revealed her identity in 2018, added, “Unfortunately, the need remains urgent for what we do because, unfortunately, gender inequality persists. And artists continue to be under increasingly deteriorating conditions, women, in particular. What we do, I think, is still urgent and necessary.”