Brandon-Based Artist Wins First-Ever Annual Vermont Award

Will Kasso Condry, 44, a Brandon-based artist, is the recipient of the 2022 Vermont Prize. Photo by Alexa Condry

Will Kasso Condry, 44, is the first-ever winner of the Vermont Prize, created earlier this year as a collaboration between four art groups: Burlington City Arts, The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, The Current and Hall Art Foundation.

The award carries a monetary award of $5,000 and Condry will be featured on the Vermont award website and social media.

Condry is an Afro-futurist style visual artist, graffiti artist and educator artist with a career spanning over 20 years.

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“Queen Mother”, artwork by Will Kasso Condry.

He says he creates fictional stories “based on a very dark reality” and uses art as a form of self-expression and also as a way to bring “the great traditions of East African griots West” to Vermont communities. A griot is a storyteller, singer, musician and oral historian from West Africa.

Although he applied for the prize with no hope of winning, Condry says the prize will encourage him to stay curious as an artist and help him flesh out new ideas.

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“Chameleon: Stormchaser”, illustration by Will Kasso Condry.

In creating the Vermont Prize, “what we wanted to do was celebrate the best art being made in Vermont today,” said Rachel Moore, executive director of The Current, which is based in Stowe, and highlight the importance of national and global initiatives. awareness of the art happening in Vermont.

The Vermont Prize received 250 nominations from nearly every region of the state, Erin Jenkins, gallery director and marketing coordinator for the Brattleboro Museum, said in an emailed statement. Artist applications were reviewed for perceived artistic excellence by a five-person team – one representative from each of the partner arts groups and a guest juror.

“Will Kasso Condry impresses in every way,” said Kelly Baum, this year’s guest juror and curator of contemporary art Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a press release. “For Condry, it is abundantly clear that the form and content of his work matters just as much as how, why and for whom he does this work.”

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“The Water Carrier”, artwork by Will Kasso Condry.

Condry taught classes on graffiti culture, its politics and its relationship to hip-hop at Middlebury College, and ran elementary school classes on more general art forms, according to the announcement. He trained in fine art and illustration at the College of New Jersey before studying with graffiti artist Daniel “Pose 2” Hopkins and later Dave McShane at Mural Arts Philadelphia.

“Condry uses acrylic, ink and marker to evoke extraordinary new forms of black humanity,” Baum also wrote. “Adapting African traditions, his ‘more than humans’ are almost always armored and ornate and immersed in otherworldly fantasy landscapes. Together they surprise and inspire. Condry is an exceptional artist who does exceptional work in and for Vermont.

Pieces submitted by Condry can be viewed in his artist profile on the Vermont Prize website.

“I just like it. I love making art,” Condry said.

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Tags: Black Vermonters, Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, Burlington City Arts, Rachel Moore, Vermont Prize, visual arts

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