Spike Lee to Receive 13th Wexner Prize

Thu, Dec 13, 2007

Filmmaker to Come to Columbus in February to Receive $50,000 Award and to Participate in a Variety of Events

Columbus, OH—The Wexner Center for the Arts announced today that the 13th Wexner Prize will be awarded to groundbreaking filmmaker Spike Lee, who will come to Columbus in February to accept the award and participate in events for the community. The $50,000 Prize is given to a contemporary artist in any field who has been consistently original, influential, and challenging to convention, with artists nominated by the Wexner Center’s International Arts Advisory Council. This marks the first award in Lee’s career from a multidisciplinary arts center. He will be at the Wexner Center February 11 and 12, 2008 for the private ceremony, and to participate in a variety of events for Wexner Center members, Ohio State students, area teens, and the general public (see page 2 for details of confirmed events).

Notes Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin, “Since bursting on the scene in 1986 with his quirky and irreverent movie She’s Gotta Have It, Spike Lee has been among the most significant voices in American film. With a fierce commitment to capturing and conveying the lived experiences of African Americans, he brings to all his projects a unique and independent vision combined with an unerring ‘street savvy.’ With this Prize—his first from a multidisciplinary arts center—we honor Lee’s work in feature film, documentaries, television movies, music video, and even commercials.”

Leslie H. Wexner, chair of the Wexner Center Foundation Board of Trustees, commented, “Spike Lee exemplifies what the Wexner Prize was created to celebrate: a bold creative spirit who is unafraid to provoke and challenge us. He tests the American mind, and its attitudes, assumptions and values, and in doing so has advanced American cinema in remarkable ways. We are thrilled to award the 13th Wexner Prize to Spike Lee.”

In the past two decades, Lee has worked in a variety of film genres, from coming-of-age (1994’s Crooklyn) to biopics (1992’s Malcolm X) to documentaries (2006’s When the Levees Broke, a devastating look at the effects of Hurricane Katrina) to musicals (1988’s School Daze), and infused each with his inimitable style and vibrant, electric filmmaking technique. In 1989 Lee was nominated for a Best Screenplay Academy Award for his landmark Do the Right Thing. Currently, he is working on a film based on James McBride’s novel Miracle of St. Anna about black soldiers who fought in World War II. Lee will also be making his Broadway directorial debut in the spring with an adaptation of Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17.


Among the events surrounding the Wexner Prize:

• Wexner Prize Presentation Ceremony. Monday, February 11. Invited guests include

major donors and key civic and cultural leaders.

• A Conversation with Spike Lee, with author James McBride. Tuesday, February 12

at 7 pm in Mershon Auditorium at the Wexner Center. Tickets are $12 general public, $6

for members. Member presale continues through February 3; public ticket sales begin

February 4, subject to availability.

• A film series devoted to Lee’s films will be held in February. The schedule: Do the Right Thing, February 9; 25th Hour, February 16; Malcolm X, February 17; She’s Gotta Have It, February 22; He Got Game, February 23; and Crooklyn, February 29. All films will be held in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Theater. With the exception of the Malcolm X screening (which is a free screening at 2 pm), all are at 7 pm unless otherwise noted (tickets $7 per night general public, $5 members/students/senior citizens).

• A Wexner Prize display will be on view in the Wexner Center’s lower lobby the month of


• Lee’s When the Levees Broke (a documentary about Hurricane Katrina) will screen

continually in The Box video space in the lower level of the Wexner Center during

February. Admission is free.

• In addition, Lee will participate in sessions with select groups of Ohio State

students as well as select groups of local teens as part of the Wexner Center

Education Department’s teen symposium that week, “Art Involved: Where Creative Minds

Contemplate Community Activism and Social Change,” kicking off with a screening of

Lee’s When the Levees Broke and post-film conversation. This week of events includes

programs for teachers as well, and is being held in partnership with Transit Arts, a

program for Columbus youth.


The Wexner Prize is awarded annually to a major contemporary artist in any artistic field who has been consistently original, influential, and challenging to convention. The $50,000 prize is funded by the Wexner Center Foundation through a gift from Abigail and Leslie H. Wexner, chairman of the Wexner Center Foundation and chairman and founder of Limited Brands. As with past Prize recipients, Spike Lee was nominated by the Wexner Center's cross-disciplinary International Arts Advisory Council and selected to receive the Prize by the trustees of the Wexner Center Foundation. A commemorative sculpture designed by artist Jim Dine accompanies the award. In accepting the Prize, Spike Lee joins this distinguished group of past recipients:

PAST WEXNER PRIZE RECIPIENTS Peter Brook, theater director (1992)

John Cage, composer/musician, with Merce Cunningham, choreographer (1993)

Bruce Nauman, visual artist (1994)

Yvonne Rainer, choreographer and filmmaker (1995)

Martin Scorsese, filmmaker (1996–1997)

Gerhard Richter, painter (1998)

Louise Bourgeois, visual artist (1999)

Robert Rauschenberg, visual artist (2000)

Renzo Piano, architect (2001)

William Forsythe, choreographer (2002)

Issey Miyake, designer (2004)

Bill T. Jones, choreographer (2005)


Kutlug Ataman, video and installation artist, Istanbul

Petra Blaisse, landscape and interior designer, Amsterdam

Iwona Blazwick, director, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London

Anne Bogart, artistic director and founder, The SITI Company (Saratoga International Theater Institute), New York

Ken Brecher, executive director, Sundance Institute, Los Angeles

Ian Buruma, Henry R. Luce Professor in Human Rights, Democracy, and New Media, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York

Maria de Corral, independent curator and art critic; director, 51st Venice Biennale, Madrid

Peter Gelb, general manager, The Metropolitan Opera, New York

Susanne Ghez, director, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago

Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

Philip Kaufman, film director, San Francisco

Barbara Kruger, artist and writer specializing in media and contemporary visual culture, New York

Phillip Lopate, writer and critic; professor, Hofstra University, New Yor

k Bruce Mau, graphic designer, Bruce Mau Design, Toronto

Josiah McElheny, visual artist, New York

Joseph Melillo, executive producer, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn

Bebe Miller, choreographer, Bebe Miller Company, New York; professor, Ohio State Department of Dance

Michael Morris, co-director, Artangel, and director, Cultural Industry, London

Jonathan Sehring, president, IFC Entertainment, New York

Catharine R. Stimpson, dean, New York University Graduate School of Arts and Science; former director, MacArthur Fellows Program, New York

Lynne Tillman, novelist, short story writer, and critic, New York

Billie Tsien, principal, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, New York

John Vinci, architect and installation designer, Chicago

John Waters, filmmaker, Baltimore and New York

Lawrence Weschler, writer; director, New York University Institute for Humanities, New York

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