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UMOCA and the Jarvis and Costance Doctorow Family Foundation give out the prize every two years to an emerging or mid-career painter "whose work expresses a great range of talent and forward thinking within a contemporary idiom." The prize is named in honor of Catherine Doctorow, a prolific painter in the 1950s and 1960s.
The prize includes a cash award of $15,000, and a solo exhibition of her work at UMOCA, 20 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, from Sept. 25, 2015, through Jan. 15, 2016. Báez was selected by a jury of art experts, who looked at nominations submitted by leading curators, critics, gallerists, historians and teachers from all over the country.
"I'm absolutely thrilled for Firelei and am eager to present her work in a new environment where audiences can participate in a more dynamic conversation about the complexity of cultural identity," said Rebecca Maksym, UMOCA's curator of exhibitions, in a statement.
Báez was born in the Dominican Republic, and her art paintings, drawings and prints address notions of identity through the prism of Afro-Caribbean folklore. "Through a convergence of interest in anthropology, science fiction, black female subjectivity and women's work; her art explores the humor and fantasy involved in self-making within diasporic societies, which have an ability to live with cultural ambiguities and use them to build psychological and even metaphysical defenses against cultural invasions," she writes on her website.
Báez is the third recipient of the Doctorow prize, following Kim Schoenstadt in 2011 and Tala Madani in 2013.