The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

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DECEMBER 20, 2001 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Announced A Grant of $50,000 for the William Pope.L: eRacism Exhibition Currently Being Organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts today announced a grant of $50,000 for the William Pope.L: eRacism exhibition currently being organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art. The Foundation's action stands in direct contrast to yesterday's decision by the National Endowment for the Arts to deny funding for the show, despite the grant's previous approval by both the NEA's own peer panel and the National Council on the Arts.

Joel Wachs, the foundation's president, said that while the decision to fund the exhibition was taken before the NEA's action, the foundation stood by its choice despite the NEA's denial of funding. "Our selection of the exhibition for funding was based strictly on the show's merits," he said, "and those merits are as significant today as they were yesterday." Wachs expressed regret that the NEA appeared to have denied funding to the exhibition on political grounds. "The irony is that the NEA's latest attack on freedom of expression in fact serves to highlight the relevance and timeliness of Mr. Pope.L's work, and to emphasize the importance of the issues it addresses," he said.

Mr. Wachs added, "the foundation is committed to supporting the artistic excellence and freedom of artistic expression that are so essential to a creative, vital and free society. The Andy Warhol Foundation will continue to advocate for both, especially in these times of heightened sensitivity to challenging political work."

Pamela Clapp, the foundation's program director, noted that William Pope.L is a prominent artist whose twenty-five year career has included numerous group and solo shows; he has also been selected for inclusion in the upcoming Whitney Biennial. He has won three prior NEA grants, including two fellowships. He is also a recipient of a grant from Creative Capital, a new foundation funding innovative artists whose application process is highly competitive. He is an African-American artist, and his work often addresses political issues: questions of race, of the body and sexuality, and of social and economic inequities, have been at the heart of his work. Residencies at the prestigious artist colonies of Yaddo and Skowhegan, as well as his professorship at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, testify to the high regard in which he is held by the artistic and cultural communities.