Announcing Zora J Murff as Recipient of the Inaugural Next Step Award
Zora J Murff, Under dark daylight (cross), 2018, from the series At No Point In Between
Aperture and Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York have joined forces, with the generous support of 7|G Foundation, to launch the inaugural Next Step Award and announce photographer Zora J Murff as its winner. As a recipient of the award, Murff will receive a $10,000 grant, the publication of a photobook with Aperture, and an accompanying exhibition at Baxter St at CCNY.
At a pivotal time in reconsidering equity across the country and in arts institutions, the Next Step Award aims to identify strong emerging or evolving voices whose work deserves greater recognition. The annual award will support underrepresented US-based artists at a critical juncture in their artistic development. It will also support the presentation of diverse opinions, as well as timely lens-based work that’s relevant to today’s visual culture and society, across a wide array of genres or approaches.
“The Next Step Award was created with the specific focus on fostering inclusivity in the industry and taking action steps to creating greater equity within it,” says Michi Jigarjian, president of Baxter St. “We are thrilled to partner with Aperture to present the work of Zora Murff to the cultural landscape and also invest in its scholarship.”
Selected for the work he began with the published series At No Point In Between and has continued in American Mother, American Father, Zora Murff describes his project as “a discursive narrative on the evolution and perpetuation of anti-Black violence.” Lesley A. Martin, creative director at Aperture, notes that “Zora Murff’s work distinguished itself for his rigorous approach to photographic storytelling, one that challenges how images can simultaneously support or subvert the spectacle of violence against Black individuals, while also using photography to explore memory and identity on a personal level.”
Murff was named the winner out of an extremely competitive list of artists, nominated by an intensely knowledgeable and diverse group of artists and curators who brought expertise and artistic experience to the selection process. The nomination committee included Dawoud Bey, Nayland Blake, Isolde Brielmaier, Zoe Buckman, Howie Chen, Carmen Hermo, Justine Kurland, An-My Lê, Christopher Lew, Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, Aspen Mays, Sarah Hermanson Meister, José Parlá, Seph Rodney, Antwaun Sargent, Drew Sawyer, Lisa Sutcliffe, Mickalene Thomas, Ka-Man Tse, Jasmine Wahi, Deborah Willis, and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa.
The roster of nominated artists who submitted to the prize included Arielle Bobb-Willis, Kierra Branker, Tommy Bruce, Widline Cadet, William Camargo, Shikeith Cathey, Kevin Claiborne, Robin Crookall, Delphine Diallo, Jason Elizondo, Nona Faustine, Delphine Fawundu, Christina Fernandez, Oto Gillen, Allison Janae Hamilton, Jon Henry, Pao Houa Her, María José, Dionne Lee, Nate Lewis, Qiana Mestrich, Star Montana, Cheryl Mukherji, Zora J Murff, Matthew Placek, Clifford Prince King, Daniel Ramos, Carter Seddon, Dana Scruggs, A. L. Steiner, and Chanell Stone.