Photographer and Digital Artist Rodell Warner Wins Tito’s Prize for the Arts
Austin-based Trinidadian artist takes home award for rising creators
By Richard Whittaker,
2:00PM, Thu. May 25, 2023
Austin's art scene truly embraced the digital era today with the announcement that 3D artist Rodell Warner is the recipient of this year's Tito's Prize from Tito's Vodka and Big Medium Gallery.
The artist, who splits his time between his birthplace in Trinidad and his adopted home in Austin, receives an unrestricted award of $15,000, and Big Medium Gallery will host an exhibition of his work – his first solo show in Austin – in the spring of 2024.
Warner began in zines before moving into portrait photography: However, he moved away from the static image in the early 2010s with experiments in animated gifs, then transferring into animation-amplified photos in his Augmented Archive series. More recently, he has moved into 3D modeling in works like his the Veil series, and now he is probing the artistic possibilities of LIDR scanning.
Acknowledging the honor, Warner said, "Having time to experiment and to refine new methods and directions is expansive for my practice and is extremely valuable in the long term. Having the support of Tito's Prize affords me the time to do this kind of work."
Established in 2017, the Tito's Prize is open to any artist in any media at any stage in their career, as long as they are resident in a 17-mile radius of Austin. This year, Warner was the winner by the unanimous decision of the three judges: Erika Mei Chua Holum, Cynthia Woods Mitchell assistant curator at the Blaffer Art Museum; Phillip Townsend, curator of art at Art Galleries at Black Studies (AGBS) at the University of Texas at Austin; and Coka Treviño, curator and director of programming at Big Medium.
He now joins a list of honorees that includes ceramicist Tammie Rubin (2022), video and film artist Ariel René Jackson in collaboration with Michael J. Love (2021), installation artist Betelhem Makonnen (2019), soundspace designer Steve Parker (2018), and printmaker Zack Ingram (2017).
The award doesn't just place Warner in an Austin tradition, but the artist added that "from a social standpoint, this prize represents a major shift in my career since moving to Austin. I've been in the city for four years now, but all of my solo shows and major projects have been overseas. The Tito's Prize exhibition at Big Medium is my opportunity to do something special locally and share it with art lovers in Austin. I'm excited to meet everyone in person. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time."
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