Notre Dame photographer wins NEA award

October 24, 1990|By Linell Smith | Linell Smith,Evening Sun Staff

Baltimore artist Lisa Lewenz is one of 36 photographers nationwide to receive a fellowship award of $20,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, the federal agency has announced.

The 35-year-old interdisciplinary artist, a professor at Notre Dame College, won the award based on her ongoing series about the devastations of World War II. Entitled "A Letter Without Words," the series of triptychs uses images from film, photographs, video and text. Lewenz calls the project a collaborative piece with her grandmother, German filmmaker Ella Arnhold Lewenz, who chronicled the rise of Nazi Germany through the lives of her family and friends.

The series consists of large-scale pieces, each measuring roughly 20 inches by 60 inches. Many use prints from 60-year-old negatives which Lewenz painstakingly restored.

A Baltimore native, the artist also serves as director of the Gormley Gallery at the college and runs the photography facilities. A graduate of Towson High School and Art Institute of ,, Chicago, she has exhibited her work throughout the country. After teaching at the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana for a number of years, Lewenz returned to Baltimore in 1987.

Photographer Gillian Brown, 39, of Takoma Park was the other Marylander to win a $20,000 NEA award. A retrospective show of her work is running at Notre Dame's Gormley Gallery through Friday.

Two Baltimore artists received $5,000 awards: Jeff Gates, photographer and director of Art/FBI, and Linda Bills, who creates sculptural pieces from bark and other media.

Gates, 41, received his award in the photography category for work which incorporates text as well as image. A part-time instructor at the Maryland Institute, College of Art and at the University of Maryland, College Park, Gates has formed an organization (Artists for a Better Image) intended to study -- and improve -- the public's perception of artists.

Bills, 47, received her award in the crafts category. One of the artists in the Baltimore Museum of Art's invitational show last year, she recently took part in an exhibition at Maryland Art Place. She works as a free-lance architectural model builder.

These four Maryland artists were among 177 artists to win NEA visual arts fellowships this year. More than 5,300 photographers, sculptors and crafts artists applied for grants; it is the agency's most competitive category. These grants are awarded in sums of $20,000 for mid to senior career artists, and $5,000 for artists who have been working 10 years or less.

Although they have accepted the money, the three Baltimore artists wrote letters to the arts agency protesting the anti-obscenity provision added to the fiscal 1990 grants.

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