Selva Aparicio

2023 Burke Prize Winner

Nov 2, 2023–Mar 2, 2024

Born and raised in Barcelona and now based in Chicago, Selva Aparicio is an interdisciplinary artist working across installation and sculpture whose artwork delves into ideas of memory, death, intimacy, and mourning. Inspired by her observations of the cycles of life and death in the natural world, she explores the dissonances between nature and contemporary life that have arisen in the twenty-first century.

In her practice, Aparicio pairs evocative materials, such as reclaimed cemetery ephemera, cicada wings, plant seeds, and human hair, with traditional craft techniques like weaving, carving, and sewing. The connections the artist forms with her materials—from gathering and processing to creating and preserving—allow Aparicio to remain connected to her family’s craft heritage and celebrate the ability to make by hand. Through a painstaking and lengthy handcrafted process, she produces work that stands in stark contrast to the fast-paced technological world they hold in conversation; raising questions about our arrival in the present and the viability of the future under existing systems.

Aparicio received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 and her MFA in sculpture from Yale University in 2017, honing a praxis that foregrounds a unique reverence for the discarded in explorations of life, death, and rebirth. Aparicio’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT; Can Mario Museum, Spain; CRUSH Curatorial, New York; The Kyoto International Craft Center, Japan; Instituto Cervantes, New York; and the Centre de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona, among others. Aparicio was awarded the JUNCTURE Fellowship in Art and International Human Rights in 2016, the Blair Dickinson Memorial Prize in 2017, and a MAKER Grant from the Chicago Artist Coalition in 2020. She was named one of the 2020 breakout artists in Chicago by NewCity Art and received both the Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation’s Artadia Award in 2022 and the 3Arts HMS Fund Award in 2023. Her sculpture Auto-da-Fé, exhibited at EXPO Chicago 2023, was also donated to the DePaul Art Museum with funds from the Inaugural Barbara Nessim Acquisition Prize. She is currently serving as the International Randall Chair in Sculpture and Dimensional Studies at Alfred University in New York and working on two outdoor permanent sculpture commissions for Belgium’s Beaufort 2024 Triennale and the Heraclea Archeological Park in Italy. 

About the Burke Prize

Established in 2018, the Museum’s biennial Burke Prize honoring excellence in contemporary craft is named for craft collectors and dedicated MAD supporters Marian and Russell Burke. It awards an unrestricted $50,000 to an artist aged 45 or under working in the United States, whose highly accomplished work is conceptually rigorous, relevant, and pushes the boundaries of materials and creative process. A jury of professionals in the fields of art, craft, and design selected Aparicio as the winner from hundreds of submissions. The 2023 jurors are Camille Ann Brewer, artist and arts information professional; Garth Johnson, Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan Curator of Ceramics, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY; and Charisse Pearlina Weston, artist and writer and 2021 Burke Prize winner.

Photo by Kelsey Sucena, courtesy the artist.

Watch a short video interview with the founders of the Burke Prize

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