Tribeca Festival and CHANEL announced the artists selected as part of the 2022 Artist Awards Program. As in years past, Tribeca and CHANEL once again bring together esteemed artists to donate a piece of their work, which will be presented to storytellers who are awarded at the Festival, running June 8 – June 19.

Ten acclaimed artists have been invited by Tribeca and CHANEL to celebrate their fellow storytellers including Deborah Roberts, February James, Garry Simmons, Hank Willis Thomas, Leilah Babirye, Ming Smith, Nicoletta Darita de la Brown, Nina Chanel Abney, Ouattara Watts, and Wardell Milan. These leading visual artists will each contribute original artwork, which will be awarded to the 2022 festival winners.

“Tribeca is deeply committed to generating opportunities for visionaries to explore the intersection of creativity and culture. The 2022 Artist Awards program is a celebration of creative renewal in New York City after a challenging few years,” said Tribeca Festival Co-Founder and Tribeca Enterprises CEO Jane Rosenthal. “Every year, we’re proud to support artistic excellence alongside CHANEL. Our longstanding partnership is a testament to a shared pursuit of honoring powerful, bold stories in film, games, art, and all forms of creativity in-between.”

The tradition of supporting artistic creativity and vision goes back to the inception of the Tribeca Festival, which was founded with a mission to revitalize downtown New York City in the wake of September 11th. This signature cultural event is a way for storytellers of all mediums to help locals and small businesses with the support of the creative community. From year one of the Festival, studio artists witnessed the positive impact it was forming and wanted to be involved as a way for artists to directly support and celebrate other artists and filmmakers in the community. This solidarity and generosity has remained a core value of the Tribeca Festival and the Artist Awards is a yearly reminder of that.

“The Tribeca Festival has an unparalleled ability to unite people through the power of creative expression. When I was approached by Tribeca and CHANEL to curate this year’s Artist Awards, I began reflecting on all that we’ve been through these past years and the Kendrick Lamar song “Alright” (2015) kept playing in my head. Our collective experience of life and loss inspired me to convene artists, across generations and various stages of careers, who will offer a snapshot of where culture is right now with a comforting message: ‘We gon’ be alright.’ Standing together — those who came before, those who are here now, and those who are coming up — we will be alright,” said the 2022 Artist Awards curator Racquel Cevremont.

CHANEL’s collaboration with the Tribeca Festival is a testament to the brand’s continuous commitment to creation and artistry in their varied forms. Throughout history, art has played an integral role at the House of CHANEL. House founder and visionary Gabriel Chanel surrounded herself with the leading artists of her time, drawing inspiration and support from her fellow creative peers. CHANEL is honored to continue its support of the annual Artist Awards Program, which celebrates the leading filmmakers and artists of our time, and the rich tradition of artists supporting artists.

This year’s art collection will be displayed at the Tribeca Festival Hub at Spring Studios throughout the Festival. 

Following is a complete list of contributed artwork. Artwork images can be found HERE.

February JamesOil On Canvas, info pending. Watercolor and ink on paper. 16 x 12. Given to Nora Ephron Award Winner

Deborah RobertsPast Tense #25, 2019. Mixed media on paper. 6×5 in. Framed. Given to Best New Narrative Director Winner

Leilah BabiryeAbambowa (Royal Guard Who Protects the King), 2022. Glazed ceramic, bicycle tire inner tubes, copper wire. 9 x 3 x 3 inches. Given to Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature Winner

Wardell MilanUntitled (Red Tulip 2022), 2018. Oil, graphite, acrylic on board. 18 x 24in. Given to Best Narrative Short Winner

Hank Willis ThomasLearn, Baby, Learn (multi on red), 2019. Screenprint on retroreflective vinyl, mounted on Dibond. 15 x 30 in. Given to Best Documentary Short Winner

Nicoletta Darita de la BrownThree Bodies, 2021. Giclée print from 3 hour durational performance. Framed: 10 x 15 inches. Given to Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award Winner

Garry SimmonsBlack Ark Stars (Process Black), 2022. Lithograph and screenprint with Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee on paper. 20 x 16 inches; AP 5/10 Ed. of 35. Given to Best International Narrative Feature Winner

Ming SmithDakar Roadside, 1972. Pigment Print. 11 x 14. Given to Best Documentary Feature Winner

Nina Chanel AbneyUntitled, 2022. Collage. 21 5/8 x 16 ¾ inches. Give to Best Animated Short Winner

Ouattara WattsSunrise, 2005. Watercolor on paper. 22½ x 30½ inches; OW-05-014 / 05-12. Given to Student Visionary Award Winner

About the Artists

Nina Chanel Abney:
Nina Chanel Abney’s works on paper give voice to the artist’s social consciousness on a bold, “unapologetic” scale. Unified through her signature visual language of symbols and stylized figures, her prints and collages draw both subject and message from current events and society.

Abney’s first solo museum exhibition, Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, curated by Marshall Price, Nancy Hanks Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, was presented in 2017 at the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina. It traveled to the Chicago Cultural Center and then to Los Angeles, where it was jointly presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the California African American Museum. The final venue for the exhibition was the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York. The artist has had further solo institutional presentations at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Contemporary, Dayton, in 2019 and 2021. Following an overseas museum début at the Palais de Tokyo in 2018, Abney has continued to exhibit across the globe, including at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2021-2022. She is the subject of upcoming solo exhibitions at the Gordon Parks Foundation, ICA Miami, and MoCA Cleveland.

Leilah Babirye:
Leilah Babirye (born 1985, Kampala, Uganda) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She studied art at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda (2007–10), and participated in the Fire Island Artist Residency in 2015. In 2018, she received asylum in the US with support from the African Services Committee and the NYC Anti-Violence Project and presented her first solo exhibition at Gordon Robichaux in New York. Babirye is represented by Gordon Robichaux, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

In May 2022, Babirye will present monumental, commissioned sculptures as part of Black Atlantic, an exhibition co-curated by Hugh Hayden and Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer, presented by the Public Art Fund in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Later this year, her work will be included in exhibitions at the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT; and at mumok, Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien in Vienna, Austria.

Nicoletta Darita de la Brown:
Nicoletta Darita de la Brown (b. 1981) is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist and chamána (shaman) who comes from a long line of healers. She is Black Latinx; proud to be a first-generation Panamanian born in the United States. Her artworks re-conceive the life of an artist as thriving, nourishing herself and others during and through her art practice. She teaches ‘Mindfulness in Art Practice’ at Baltimore School for the Arts; former sculpture professor at Towson University and former adjunct faculty in the MFA in Community Arts Graduate Program at Maryland Institute College of Art. Nicoletta’s performances have been presented at The Phillips Collection, Washington DC; The Smithsonian, Washington DC; Walters Art Museum, Baltimore MD. Exhibitions of Nicoletta’s film/video and installation works have been presented at Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore MD; IA&A at Hillyer Gallery, Washington DC; Cardinal Gallery, Baltimore MD. Nicoletta lives and works in Baltimore, MD.

February James:
February James has been drawing since childhood. Originally from Washington DC, the artist moved to Los Angeles in 2007, and spent years moonlighting as a makeup artist while keeping up her practice. Inspired by the works of South African artist Marlene Dumas, James began to draw images of the Black figures that filled her imagination. James’s figures can be spectral in appearance, with palls of white covering their faces and dark rings circling their eyes, as though bruised or utterly exhausted. Marked by the aura of memory, James’s soulful works have appeared as cover art for Diplo, Santigold, and Lil Yachty albums. Her work has been featured in multiple group shows, including Punch, curated by Nina Chanel Abney at Jeffrey Deitch in Los Angeles and Something About Us at Anthony Gallery in Chicago. She has had solo exhibitions at Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles, Tilton Gallery, New York, Monique Meloche, Chicago and Luce Gallery, Turin, Italy. The New York Times invited her to contribute watercolors to a feature article in the NY Times Style Magazine in February 2021. February James is represented by Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles; Tilton Gallery, New York City; and Luce Gallery, Turin, IT.

Wardell Milan:
New York-based artist Wardell Milan works in mixed media, combining elements of photography, drawing, painting, and collage. Milan’s practice is conceptually grounded in photography, often using photographs as initial inspiration behind composition of drawings and collages. Referencing artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Diane Arbus, Andres Serrano, Alec Soth, and Eugene Richards, Milan appropriates, and in some cases re-appropriates the photographs, and thus the bodies depicted. Milan also uses images and objects to establish allegorical connections between history and contemporary Events.

Milan’s ongoing series “Death, Wine, Revolt,” which combines photography, drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture to explore themes of over-indulgence, destruction, and revolution. While earlier series such as “Parisian Landscapes” looked inward, to personal questions of freedom and desire, Milan made the works on view in response to the turmoil of the global moment.

Works by the artist may be found in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Denver Art Museum; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; UBS Art Collection; Daniel & Florence Guerlain Contemporary Art Foundation, Paris; Hall Art Foundation; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Milan lives and works in New York.

Deborah Roberts:
Deborah Roberts (American, b. 1962) is a mixed media artist whose work challenges the notion of ideal beauty. Her work has been exhibited internationally across the USA and Europe. Roberts’ work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, New York; LACMA, Los Angeles, California; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia and the Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York, among several other institutions. Roberts is represented by Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, CA.

Garry Simmons:
Gary Simmons was born in New York in 1964. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1988, and his MFA from CalArts in 1990. Simmons’ multidisciplinary practice has probed American history to examine the pervasive nature of racist ideology and its manifestations in visual culture. Drawn from both personal and collective memory, his works address themes of race, identity, politics, and social inequality, and the ways in which these issues are both evident and concealed in the cultural landscape. Simmons draws iconography from a myriad of sources, including film, to reveal depths of meaning, illuminating fundamental disconnects between images and the inherent messages they embody.

Ming Smith:
Harlem-based, Detroit-born, Ming Smith graduated from Howard University in DC. Ming Smith first became a photographer when she borrowed her mother’s camera, a Brownie, to photograph her kindergarten class and has been photographing ever since. Smith would go on to be the first black woman photographer to be included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art.

Smith’s photography focused on black-and-white street photography, a format that she described as ‘a moment in time that would never ever return again.’ Some of her favorite subjects have been Katherine Dunham, August Wilson, Nina Simone, and Gordon Parks. Smith was recently included in ‘Soul of a Nation’ at Tate Modern. She was also featured in Brooklyn Museum’s ‘We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85.’ Smith’s work is in the collections of MoMA, Getty, the Whitney Museum of Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. She continues to work.

Hank Willis Thomas:
Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), Writing on the Wall, and the artist-run initiative for art and civic engagement For Freedoms, which was awarded the 2017 ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform.

Thomas is also a recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2019), Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2018), Art For Justice Grant (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and is a former member of the New York City Public Design Commission.

Ouattara Watts:
Ouattara Watts (b, 1957, Abidjan, Ivory Coast) is an American artist who uses brilliant colors, dynamic patterns, and hypnotic signs and symbols to explore the spiritual ties between people that transcend location or nationality. Watts uses a range of materials and mediums, such as textiles from around the world and hand mixed pigments, both acrylic and oil, set to a scale that ranges from large to monumental. Watts studied at L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France, before relocating to New York in 1989. His work has been exhibited at Museum of Modern Art (2021); the Whitney Biennial (2002); Documenta 11 (2002); and the Venice Biennale (1993) among others. His work is currently on display at Karma.

About the Tribeca Festival:
The Tribeca Festival brings artists and diverse audiences together to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, including film, TV, VR, gaming, music, and online work. With strong roots in independent film, Tribeca is a platform for creative expression and immersive entertainment. Tribeca champions emerging and established voices; discovers award-winning filmmakers and creators; curates innovative experiences; and introduces new technology and ideas through premieres, exhibitions, talks, and live performances.

The Festival was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Tribeca will celebrate its 21st year from June 8–19, 2022

In 2019, James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, a private investment company with locations in New York and Mumbai, bought a majority stake in Tribeca Enterprises, bringing together Rosenthal, De Niro, and Murdoch to grow the enterprise.

About CHANEL:
CHANEL is a private company and a world leader in creating, developing, manufacturing and distributing luxury products. Founded by Gabrielle Chanel at the beginning of the last century, CHANEL offers a broad range of high-end creations, including Ready-to-Wear, Leather Goods, Fashion Accessories, Eyewear, Fragrances, Makeup, Skincare, Jewelry and Watches. CHANEL is also renowned for its Haute Couture collections, presented twice yearly in Paris, and for having acquired a large number of specialized suppliers, collectively known as the Métiers d’art. CHANEL is dedicated to ultimate luxury and to the highest level of craftsmanship. It is a brand whose core values remain historically grounded on exceptional creation. As such, CHANEL promotes culture, art, creativity and “savoir-faire” throughout the world, and invests significantly in people, R&D and innovation. At the end of 2021, CHANEL employed more than 28,500 people across the world