June 20, 2024

Fabulous fabrics and colorful canvases: Orlando artists participate in this year’s Florida Prize



round museum exterior with blue, yellow, and red banners spelling out O M Around museum exterior with blue, yellow, and red banners spelling out O M A


The Orlando Museum of Art is celebrating its 10th annual Florida Prize in Contemporary Art exhibition from now until Aug. 25.

The exhibition features a wide variety of intricate works. Artists incorporated various materials into their different genres. The 10-artist lineup included two Orlando-based artists for the first time in Florida Prize history: Njeri Kinuthia and Hai Van, more commonly known as Boy Kong

According to Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon, chief curator, the exhibition was laid out in a way that created a flow through the different visions the artists had for their galleries. 

Van’s artwork, presented at the beginning of the exhibition, showcases a vibrantly multicolored, outstretched canvas in the shape of a tiger, among other pieces. 

According to Van, the narrative behind “Skin of a Tiger” is about a man traveling to a land in search of a tiger. When he gets to the land, he has a son, who finds the tiger in the sky and pulls it down to be skinned. Van says the skin of the tiger in the narrative is what’s hung on display. 

This “Skin of a Tiger” artwork was made by Orlando-based artist Hai Van, also known as Boy Kong. (NICK GEORGOUDIOU)

“I just feel an institution like this should be promoted more for people to experience art, because for me, I’m inspired by art,” Van said.

Kinuthia’s artwork showcases multimedia work all the way from charcoal on paper to fabrics from Kenya. Her work highlights women’s empowerment and explores personal identity. 

Some of her work includes portraits and the use of various fabrics to create a larger art piece.   

During the Florida Prize Exhibition Preview Party, which occurred May 31, Kinuthia received an award. She took home the People’s Choice Award for the most votes for guests’ favorite artist and was given $2,500.

Njeri Kinuthia talks about her artwork, which is featured at the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art exhibition. (NICK GEORGOUDIOU)

“It is such an honor, and it brought me to tears!” Kinuthia wrote in an email. “I hold the Florida Prize in high regard, and this is one of the most significant milestones in my career.”

The award was underwritten by local philanthropists Gail and Michael Winn.

“I do believe that art has that power to impact lives,” Claeysen-Gleyzon said. “We are doing it with those artists but also with the public.”

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