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Vol 57 No. 1 | Jan. 2005
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Art Prof Receives Penny McCall Award
for Work as Curator, Writer for the Arts

Christopher Miles, an assistant professor of art theory and criticism at CSULB, has been selected as one of seven winners of the 2004 Penny McCall Award by the Penny McCall Foundation, a private organization established to support and encourage the arts.  

Miles received one of two critic/curator awards, emphasizing the foundation's ongoing pledge to support the independent curator and art writer. In its award announcement, the foundation described Miles as “a prolific and involved Los Angeles writer, curator and lecturer.” As part of the award, each recipient received a prize of $30,000.

“I was thrilled, surprised, and I feel incredibly honored to have been given this award. There are too few awards like this for artists and even fewer for curators and critics,” Miles said. “The Penny McCall Foundation is an amazing project because it gets together top people in the field – museum directors, esteemed curators, collectors and artists – and asks them to nominate and vote, and they only give out seven awards, and only one or two of those go to curators or critics.

“It is an honor to have been selected for the award by a group of esteemed individuals in the field,” he continued, “and it is equally an honor to be in the company of other foundation award recipients, who over the years have included writers and artists I deeply respect.”

Miles has taught at CSULB since 1998, and he received a tenure-track appointment in 2003. He earned his bachelor's degree at the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara and went on to earn a master of fine arts degree at USC's School of Fine Arts. In addition to CSULB, he has taught in the graduate art programs at the Claremont Graduate University, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and USC.

Miles presently writes for Artforum , Art in America, Artweek, Frieze and Flaunt. His writing has also appeared in Art & Auction, Art Nexus, Art Papers, Art Scene, artext, dart, Detour, Flash Art, the Los Angeles Times and other publications. He has also contributed catalog and exhibition essays for projects at venues that include the UCLA Hammer Museum, the Luckman Center at Cal State L.A. and the Montgomery Gallery at Pomona College.

“Awards like this are incredibly important as a means of recognition and support,” Miles noted. “I've been very fortunate in getting published as much as I have, but I'm not making a living at it and neither are most art writers or freelance curators. There is very little public funding out there, so awards like this make a difference.

The Penny McCall Foundation is a private, grant-making organization established to support and encourage the works of emerging or under-recognized visual artists, freelance arts writers and independent curators. Based in New York City, the foundation has awarded grants totaling more than $2 million over the past 17 years. In order to provide an open and unique funding opportunity, each year the foundation awards recipients for their creative works without any restrictions as to use or purpose of the monies.

“This is a foundation,” Miles pointed out, “that actually puts its resources and its reputation on the line in support of the belief that the arts, which at their best are among the great civilizing and enlightening forces in our world, are worth the investment.”
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