Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
August 7, 2019
It was when Akea Brionne Brown ’18 (BFA Photography + Humanistic Studies, Sustainability and Social Practice) was a freshman at MICA, that the Baltimore Uprising occurred. It was spring, during her finals week.
And it was an event that to this day, impacts her artistic practice.
“It honestly sort of shaped the way that I’ve used my role as an artist,” Brown said.
Brown, a Baltimore-based photographer, was named this year’s Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize winner. Through her work, Brown investigates the implications of historical racial and social structures in relation to the development of contemporary black life and identity within America.
Her practice is what won her the $25,000 fellowship to assist in furthering the career of a visual artist or visual artist collaborators living and working in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. She was chosen at an award ceremony and reception that took place July 13.
This is the fifth year in a row an artist who is a MICA alum won the award, and the tenth time in its 14 years that the winner was a graduate of MICA.
During the Uprising, Brown said she was watching coverage of the events unfolding, and didn’t feel like that coverage was reflective of what was actually happening. That was the first time, she added, that she felt a responsibility to do the extra work and research, to look into her own community and other communities and to look at the injustices that were taking place.
Brown spent the rest of her time at MICA, and after graduation, doing just that.