Off-Ramp

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Hammer Museum names Made in LA artist Meleko Mokgosi for $100,000 Mohn award

Installation view of Meleko Mokgosi's Pax Kaffraria: Sikhuselo Sembumbulu, 2012. Oil on canvas. 96 x 584 in.
Installation view of Meleko Mokgosi's Pax Kaffraria: Sikhuselo Sembumbulu, 2012. Oil on canvas. 96 x 584 in. Brian Forrest/Courtesy Hammer Museum

When the Hammer Museum opened the doors of Made in L.A., its first ever Los Angeles Biennial, the museum wanted to do more than just celebrate local artists. A $100,000 prize (funded by Jarl and Pamela Mohn, the two philanthropists KPCC named its building after) was secured for one of five exhibit artists.

The award's first-ever recipient is Meleko Mokgosi, a native of Botswana who lives and works in Culver City. Mokgosi, born in 1981, got his MFA degree from the UCLA just this past year.

His sprawling mural (painted for Made in L.A.) was descibed by the Hammer as "provocative, deeply political and grapples with the complexities of post-colonial Africa and issues of representation."

Though the artists were nominated by Hammer curators, the ultimate winner was picked by visitors to the museum, making for a fair mix of ballot boxes and ivory towers. 

Mokgosi will receive the cash prize over the next two years.

If you haven't seen Made in L.A. yet, never fear: the exhibit doesn't close until September 2.

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