Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk is the recipient of the 2011 Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change. The $25,000 award is presented annually by New York-based nonprofit arts organization Creative Time to an artist whose work has been devoted to “instigating social awareness and harnessing the communicative power of art to engage communities around important public issues.” Van Heeswijk received the prize on Friday at the Creative Time Summit in New York. She joins past winners the Yes Men (2009) and Rick Lowe (2010).
Van Heeswijk’s work defies easy description but usually brings groups of formerly unacquainted people together in colorful ways—with the help of artists, designers, architects, software developers, governments, and citizens. Her projects, which have been exhibited in oodles of biennials (Venice, Taipei, Busan), may involve pop-up think tanks, culture jamming t-shirts, free barbeque, or the drafting of a “manifesto of a small happiness” in the shadow of a major German highway. Creative Time tapped a panel of three judges to select the 2011 prize recipient: curator Christine Tohme (Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts), curator Hou Hanru (San Francisco Art Institute), and news commentator Laura Flanders (Air America).