The inaugural Figure Skating Prize, an annual award given to to Black artists, curators, and art scholars who are advancing racial justice within the arts, has gone to Meg Onli, associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania.
The award, administered by Figure Skating, an art space founded in 2019 by Virgil Abloh, Mahfuz Sultan and Chloe Wayne, carries a $50,000 cash award towards a research project led by Onlie, as well as an unrestricted $25,000. Through her winnings, she will research the colonialist foundation of museums, and she will also oversee a related programming series in spring 2022.
In a statement, Onli said, “My project began as an initial inquiry into alternative curatorial practices and I am excited to be able to grow my own practice through conversations with colleagues across the field.”
In 2017, Onli curated “Speech/Acts,” an interactive group exhibition at the ICA Philadelphia which explored experimental Black poetry and the role of language in the experiences of Black Americans. That show was followed by her critically acclaimed three-part exhibition “Colored People Time,” which focused on the sweeping impact of slavery and colonialism on present life and included works by Cameron Rowland, Aria Dean, Carolyn Lazard, Martine Syms, and more. A Jessica Vaughn solo show organized by Onli is due to end its run at the ICA on May 9.
Onli has also previously won a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, a Graham Foundation Grant, and a Transformation Award from the Leeway Foundation, and was a 2018 Warhol Foundation Curatorial Fellow. In 2020, she appeared on ARTnews‘s “Deciders” list.
“Figure Skating is about documenting the aesthetic practices and traditions of Black artists and intellectuals. It’s about writing our own histories and creating space for our ideas to flourish independently of the art world’s traditional gatekeepers,” Abloh said in a statement. “We established the Figure Skating Prize to amplify the work of the next generation of leaders in contemporary art, and it’s an honor to award the inaugural prize to Meg Onli.”