The Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing

Gulf Coast is proud to announce the winner of the 2021 Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing, Adéolá Olákìítán, for their essay “To Allow for Tenderness.”

In its fifth 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 Stephanie Mei Huang for “A Chinese Cure” and Haley Clouser for “Collage and (In)Visible Histories: Kandis Williams at ICA at VCU.”

From the judge, Jenna Wortham:

First and foremost, it was an extreme honor to judge the Beauchamp Prize in Critical Writing. All thanks and gratitude is due to Ryan Dennis, dear friend and chief curator at the Mississippi Museum of Art, for asking me to participate. It was excruciating to attempt to choose among such an abundance of brilliance! The final round of submissions were invigorating in their inquisitiveness. They each exhibited an impressive depth of presence in their writing by appropriately situating contemporary works in a historical and politically-attuned landscape while simultaneously managing to convey an embodied response to the work that felt engaging and provocative. Ultimately, I singled out the work that felt oceanic, ideas flowing and moving over the reader with ease, ebbing and flowing and reframing perspective in the process. Congratulations to the winners, though all deserve an award and recognition for making it to the final round (and I definitely asked if there could be more than one awardedit was just that hard to choose).

I truly hope that each of the applicants continues to sharpen their gaze and hone that guttural response to work that motivates them to consider it in their writing. We’re going to need such prescient looking and listening to navigate the unknown terrain that lay ahead for us all. And I personally feel better about the future, knowing such agile writers are paying attention to all the culture unfurling around us, parsing through it with such attuned and excited minds. Thank you all for your time and energy and please stay the path. We need you.


2021 Winner

“To Allow for Tenderness” by Adéolá Olákìítán


Born of Olúfémi & Olúyémisí, Adéolá Olákìítán is a trans*themme poet, artist and curator living and working in spirals & reversals. With past experience in global contemporary art, art & politics and new media practices, their current research (and dream work) is committed to creating errant, vital imaginaries and systems of relation. Olakiitan holds an MA from the Curatorial Practice Program at the School of Visual Arts. Qra33 is their transversal studiolab designing projects and spaces of critical nuance and play. They are the author of the collection of lyric essays and poems, Whiskery Squid.


2021 Honorable Mentions 

"A Chinese Cure" by Stephanie Mei Huang

stephanie mei huang is a Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary artist. They use a diverse range of media and strategies including film/video, installation, social interventions, sculpture, writing, and painting. Through research and practice, they aim to erode the violent mythologies that perpetuate exceptionalist narratives, in the hopes of excavating forgotten histories. They yearn to locate sites of emergence from which we can perhaps fabulate adjacent histories. They recently completed their MFA in Art at the California Institute of the Arts (2020), and they received their BA from Scripps College (2016). They most recently exhibited at the Hauser and Wirth Book Lab, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the New Wight Biennial at the University of California Los Angeles, and the Arizona State University Art Museum (Tempe, AZ). They are a contributor to the Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles. They are a participant at the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program.


“Collage and (In)Visible Histories: Kandis Williams at ICA at VCU” by Haley Clouser

Haley Clouser is the Curatorial Fellow at deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA, as well as an independent curator and writer. Her practice focuses on decolonial strategies; institutional critique; the role of history and the archive in contemporary art; materiality, labor, and capitalism; women and gender studies; environmentalism; as well as experimental curatorial approaches. Previously, Haley worked as the Exhibitions Research Assistant in the modern and contemporary art department at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). Haley served as the Samuel H. Kress Interpretive Fellowship (2019-20) at VMFA and has held positions at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, among others. In 2018, she presented at the University of Oregon’s “Contested Memories” research symposium and the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) conference in Barcelona, Spain. She has also published academic papers and critical art reviews, including recent articles in Burnaway and Number: Inc.

Thanks to everyone who entered the 2021 Toni Beauchamp Prize. The winning essays will be printed in the upcoming Spring 2022 issue of Gulf Coast, and online.