Arts & Theater

Crocker awards its first Knudsen Prize, plans exhibit of late sculptor’s work

“The Cycle by Cyrus Tilton,” an immersive installation depicting the life cycle of locusts, will be at the Crocker in 2018.
“The Cycle by Cyrus Tilton,” an immersive installation depicting the life cycle of locusts, will be at the Crocker in 2018. Courtesy Crocker Art Museum

The Crocker Art Museum has awarded the first John S. Knudsen Prize, which supports a California artist with $25,000.

The award has gone to the late Cyrus Tilton, an Oakland-based sculptor who died March 28 of esophageal cancer. He was 39. The Crocker will mount his first solo exhibition, “The Cycle by Cyrus Tilton,” in March 2018. “Cycle” is an immersive and kinetic installation featuring sculptures of insects in various stages of breeding and development, which serves as a cautionary metaphor but with hope.

Tilton grew up in a remote area of Alaska and moved to Oakland when he was 21. He was known for his concern with population growth, “the earth’s inability to sustain such continued growth, and the current trend of mass consumerism,” according to a press release from the museum.

Tilton was singled out for the Knudsen Prize for the “excellence of his overall body of work,” according to Scott A. Shields, associate director and chief curator at the Crocker Art Museum. “The pieces individually are powerful, but even more compelling as a group, making the overall installation compelling and poignant.”

The John S. Knudsen Endowment Fund was established in 2012 by a gift from the estate of art collector John Knudsen. A committee chooses the winner from among artists in California who have not had a solo exhibition at a major art museum. The artist may use the award money to work in the studio, to travel, to purchase materials for a specific body of work, and to pursue other creative projects, according to the Crocker.

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