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SECA Sensation

[whitespace] Does the SECA award change artists' lives?

By Christine Brenneman

Obviously, it is a great honor and possible high point in the life of an artist to be bestowed with an award as prestigious as the SECA award. But how exactly could such an honor alter one's career? Painter Hung Liu, who won the award in 1992 with her work exploring personal identity across cultures, credits the award and show at SFMOMA with exposing a far wider audience to her work.

The fact is, SFMOMA attracts incredibly diverse crowds in large numbers: from students on field trips to senior citizens to serious collectors or curators. Especially delightful to Liu was the reaction of young children to her work. "They [the kids] couldn't believe that the museum showed an artist that was still alive!" A buzz was created about Liu's work among youngsters and the art elite; the exposure was vast. Liu says that it's hard to know exactly which subsequent invitations to show her art resulted from the award, but she has shown all over the U.S., Japan and Mexico since SECA. Now an associate professor of art at Mills College and also the art department chair, Liu continues to make her work but definitely believes the SECA award and show gave her a leg up in the larger arts community. As Liu says, "I do believe it reached various artists and museum curators from all over the place and it got my work known better."

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From the December 21, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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