Women Caucus for Art

Announces the 2020 Awards Recipients

The Women’s Caucus for Art Announces the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Honorees and plans for the celebration in Chicago, IL.

The Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA) is pleased to announce the recipients for the 2020 WCA Lifetime Achievement (LTA) Awards:
Joyce Fernandes, Michiko Itatani, Judy Onofrio, Alison Saar, and Judith Stein. The recipient for the 2020 President’s Art & Activism Award will be announced in September.

Please join us for the LTA Awards celebration on Saturday, February 15, 2020 at Columbia College, Chicago, IL.

The celebration will include a ticketed reception and an awards ceremony. The LTA Awards ceremony will be free and open to the public.
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As an artist, writer and cultural worker in the city of Chicago, Joyce Fernandes has developed a practice that values creativity and equity as drivers of change. She built the nonprofit Architreasures to support community-based projects in neighborhoods throughout Chicago, partnering artists with residents to make livable places sparked with art and culture.

Earlier in her career Fernandes worked as Director of Exhibitions and Events at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she sought to create an intellectually stimulating and equitable environment for the School’s community. When that community was threatened by two deeply divisive controversies, the removal of a student painting of Mayor Harold Washington by CPD officers and the intense protest of Dread Scott Tyler’s artwork, What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag?, Fernandes stood strong in support of First Amendment Rights, although stunned by a new awareness of America’s deep cultural divides. Since those experiences, Fernandes has devoted her career to bridging divisions of race and class within the arts and within the city of Chicago.

As Program Director of Sculpture Chicago, she curated a temporary public art exhibition, Re-inventing the Garden City, commissioning new artworks developed in partnership with Chicago Park District communities. As a freelance curator, she produced Chicago Portraits for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, a project that sought to create bridges between Chicago’s diverse cultural communities. Currently, Fernandes is working on a book and building a new studio.



Michiko Itatani’s work has been seen in solo exhibitions at the Alternative Museum, New York City (1985); Rockford Art Museum, Illinois (1987); Musée du Quebec, Canada (1988); Chicago Cultural Center (1992); Wright Museum of Beloit College, Wisconsin (1994); Nexus Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta (1995); Shinjuku Park Tower Gallery, Tokyo (1996); Tokoha Museum, Shizuoka, Japan (1998); Indianapolis Art Center, Indiana (1998); Frauen Museum, Bonn, Germany (2000); University of Wyoming Art Museum (2002); Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, MO (2003), South Bend Museum of Art, IN (2014).

Her works are in numerous corporate, public, and private collections, including those of The Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Olympic Museum, Switzerland; Villa Haiss Museum, Germany; Musée du Quebec, Canada; Museu D’art Contemporani (MACBA), Barcelona; Musée du Quebec, Canada; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea; Hyogo Art Museum, Japan.

Michiko Itatani has been a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 1979. She has taught at many other institutions, including Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine; Carnegie Melon University, Pittsburgh; California State University, Long Beach; San Francisco Art Institute; University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University; SACI, Florence, Italy; Hospital Field Summer School, Scotland; University of Bonn, Germany; Royal College of Art, London; China National Academy of Fine Arts, HangZhou, China; Osaka University of Art, Tokyo University of Art, Japan.

She has received many fellowships and awards including Illinois Arts Council Artist’s Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Marie Sharp Walsh New York Studio Grant and John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.


Judy Onofrio was born at the dawn of WWII into a family headed by a Vice Admiral of the Navy. Her formative early years, spent with her great Aunt Trude, an independent self-taught artist, had a profound impact on Onofrio’s creative sensibility. Married at eighteen, with three children by the age of 21, Onofrio marshaled her busy household and transformed herself into a committed artist.

Beginning with ceramics, Judy Onofrio has moved through a vast range of materials and exploration of form in over fifty years as an artist. She has created large-scale installations, fire performances, elaborately carved and embellished sculpture, and monumental works made entirely of bone.  “My work celebrates the ongoing cycle of change and reaches toward a universal experience of beauty that expresses the transitory nature of life.”
In 2005, Onofrio was awarded The McKnight Foundation Distinguished Minnesota Artist Award in recognition of her ongoing contribution as an artist and educator. She is a recipient of the Rochester Art Center Lifetime Achievement Award; the 2018 A.P. Anderson Award and the Minnesota Crafts Council Lifetime Achievement Award. Grants and fellowships include Minnesota State Arts Board, Arts Midwest/NEC, the Bush Foundation and the McKnight Foundation.  

Her work is in found in the collections of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX: Renwick Gallery, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; The Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Frederick R. Weisman Museum, Minneapolis, MN and over 40 other museum and public collections.

Alison Saar creates artworks that frequently transform found objects to reflect themes of cultural and social identity, history, and religion. Saar was born in Los Angeles, California.  She studied studio art and art history at Scripps College in Claremont, California, receiving a BA in art history in 1978. In 1981 she earned her MFA from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.

In 1983, Saar became an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, incorporating found objects from the city environment. Saar completed another residency in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1985, which augmented her urban style with Southwest Native American and Mexican influences. Saar received the United States Artist fellowship in 2012 and has also been awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and two national endowment fellowships.

Saar has exhibited at many galleries and museums including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Whitney Museusm of American Art. Her art is represnted in collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Baltimore Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Saar’s style encompasses a multitude of personal, artistic, and cultural references that reflect the plurality of her own experiences. Her sculptures, installations, and prints incorporate found objects including rough-hewn wood, old tin ceiling panels, nails, shards of pottery, glass, and urban detritus. The resulting figures and objects become powerful totems exploring issues of gender, race, heritage, and history.

Judith E. Stein is an art historian and curator of twentieth century art who has often written about feminism and women artists. Her 1981 doctoral thesis on the neoclassic iconography of Sappho was one of the first feminist dissertations in art history at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1973–1974, she helped organize Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts (FOCUS), a month-long, city-wide celebration of art by women. An early editor of the Women’s Caucus for Art newsletter (1975–1977) and a member of the WCA national advisory board (1979–1981), Stein began her career as an art critic for Art in America by reviewing Judy Chicago’s first East Coast exhibition in 1974; a decade later she reviewed Chicago’s Birth Project for The New York Times Book Review. Her study of Cecilia Beaux, the first woman to teach at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, was the first feminist discussion of the artist’s work and career (Feminist Art Journal, Winter 1975–1976). 

As chair of the College Art Association’s Committee on Women in the Arts from 1992 to 1997, she initiated a series of awards to women in the arts. She served on the advisory board of Philadelphia’s Leeway Foundation for women artists, (1994–2002) and was the first curator of Leeway Founder Linda Alter’s collection of art by American women artists. Stein wrote the keystone essay for Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move into the Mainstream, 1970–1985 (Abbeville, 1989) and “Collaboration,” for The Power of Feminist Art (Harry N. Abrams, 1994). She curated The Likeness of Being: Contemporary Self-Portraits by Sixty Women (DC Moore Gallery, New York, 2000), and co-curated Picturing the Modern Amazon: The Hypermuscular Woman (The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 2000). Feminists Who Changed America, 1963–1975 (University of Illinois Press, 2006) documents her career.

2020 Presidents Award for Art & Activism Recipients

Rose B. Simpson (b. 1983, Santa Clara Pueblo, NM) is a mixed-media artist, whose work addresses the emotional and existential impacts of living in the 21st century, an apocalyptic time for many analogue cultures. Her figures are often powerful matriarchs or elusively androgynous empaths who channel the spirits of high art, hiphop, lowrider attitudes, and long-lost ancestors of all kinds. Simpson comes from a tribe famous for the ceramics its women have produced since the 6th century AD. An apprentice to her mother Roxanne Swentzell, an acclaimed native artist, Simpson grew up expressing herself in three-dimensions. After a BFA in Studio Arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), Simpson earned an MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she was inspired by contemporary art and international artists such as Lee Bontecou, Alberto Giacometti and Marina Abramovic.

Simpson’s sculptures are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Denver Art Museum, Princeton University Art Museum, Heard Museum (Phoenix AZ), Pomona College Museum of Art (Pomona CA), Peabody Essex Museum (Salem MA) and the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences (Charleston, WV). She is currently enjoying a solo show at The Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe, NM. Jessica Silverman Gallery’s solo exhibition of Simpson’s work opens October 29th, 2019.
(Bio provided by Jessica Silverman Gallery)

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Karin Luner

WCA President

Margo Hobbs