The Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing

Gulf Coast is proud to announce the winner of the 2020 Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing, Ayanna Dozier, for her essay "Sound Garden: Ja’Tovia Gary’s The Giverny Document."

In its fourth year, the Toni Beauchamp Prize seeks to support young and mid-career art writers who combine scholarship and journalism, a unique voice, and literary excellence.

The two runners up include Darren Jones for “Is it Time to End the Whitney Biennial?” and Devon Britt-Darby for “Philip Guston Eventually.”

2020 Winner

Sound Garden: Ja’Tovia Gary’s The Giverny Document” by Ayanna Dozier

From the judge, Franklin Sirmans:

Original in thought and courageous in its departure from the beaten path, Ayanna Dozier’s “Sound Garden: Ja’Tovia Gary’s The Giverny Document” greets our moment head on. This essay will pique the interest of the afficionado though it bounds with enough creative verve for any careful reader.

Ayanna Dozier, PhD is a writer, lecturer, curator, filmmaker, and performance artist. Her experimental short film Softer (2020) was part of the official selection showcase in several 2020 fall film festivals, including Open City Documentary Festival and the Aesthetica Short Film Festival where it was the recipient of Best Experimental. Her doctoral dissertation, Mnemonic Aberrations (2020), traces the history of Black feminist experimental short film in the United States and the United Kingdom from 1968 to the present. Her work has been exhibited at Westbeth Gallery, Evening Hours, MONO NO AWARE, and Anthology Film Archives. She is the author of Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope (2020). Her most recent publication, Rebellious Inventions: Abstraction in the Black Diaspora (2020), accompanies her co-curated exhibition, Abstraction in the Black Diaspora, organized with Tariku Shiferaw at False Flag Gallery. She was a 2018–19 Helena Rubinstein Fellow in Critical Studies at the Whitney Independent Studies Program.

2020 Honorable Mentions 

"Is it Time to End the Whitney Biennial?" by Darren Jones

Darren Jones is a Scottish art critic based in the United States. In 2018 he was awarded a Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. Jones was selected as the 2020 critic-in-residence at SPACES, Cleveland; and the 2019 Critical Fellow at Granary Arts, Utah. His book, The Contemporary Art Gallery: Display, Power and Privilege (co-authored with David Carrier) was published in 2016. He is a regular contributor to Artforum, and is the New York contributing editor for New Art Examiner. Jones teaches curatorial studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore.


“Philip Guston Eventually” by Devon Britt-Darby

Devon Britt-Darby is a rideshare driver. His first and largest writing platform was the now-defunct website Hoo Boy’s Male4Male Escort Review, which published a blog about his sex-work adventures in San Francisco. His audience progressively dwindled as he went on to work as the Houston Chronicle’s art critic and the visual-arts editor of Arts+Culture Texas magazine. His 2011 performance The Art Gay Marries a Woman, a collaboration with Reese Darby, included divorce vows (fulfilled in 2012) and was the warmup act for the amateur strip contest at Tony’s Corner Pocket. Art League Houston presented a series of his text paintings in the 2013 solo exhibition Art Criticism and Reporting. In 2018 he screened several videos from his YouTube channel homoabnormative at CAROL, a “performance speakeasy” event, shortly before the channel was banned without explanation. Recent essays have appeared in Quillette, Areo Magazine, Arc Digital, and Ordinary Times.

Thanks to everyone who entered the 2020 Toni Beauchamp Prize. The winning essays will be printed in the upcoming Spring 2021 issue of Gulf Coast, and online.