An artwork that explores the experience of a deaf artist finding their safe place in the world has won the inaugural Lake Art Prize.
Chelle Destefano’s Navigating to Safe Space is a textile artwork that acts as a screen for a silent video projection.
The piece will be added to the Museum of Art and Culture (MAC) collection after the competition’s panel of expert judges selected it as the best entry among 600-plus contenders.
Destefano said it was heartening to see members of the deaf community recognised for their voices, culture and identity.
“The message in the work relating to seas of communities was a powerful one when I related an experience I had when looking for and finding the deaf community,” she said.
“It was like seas of water trying to find that, and then coming to shore, so to speak, to find them.”
Destefano’s work went on exhibition on Saturday at MAC alongside 40 other finalists in the $25,000 Lake Art Prize, one of the richest acquisitive art prizes in regional NSW.
Head judge and Museum of Contemporary Art director, Elizabeth Ann Magregor OBE, praised the work’s complexity and underlying meaning.
“It’s a fascinating and intriguing work, and we found ourselves going back to it over and over again,” she said.
In addition to acquiring Destefano’s work, MAC also purchased four other “exceptional” works from the exhibition for its permanent collection.
They included The Last Arborist by Lotti Consalvo, Water is Life! by Ben Adams, Baaka Nhuungku by Lotte Hilder and Jasmine Cruciun, and Wilugaju Wilara by Dale Collier and Nicole Monks.
MAC hosted a day of activities to celebrate the opening of the Lake Art Prize finalist exhibition.
The day featured art demonstrations by renowned artists John Earle and Paul O’Brien, as well as a first look at the 41 finalist artworks on display.
The exhibition continues until Sunday 7 February, with visitors encouraged to vote for a $2,000 People’s Choice Award.