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Jennifer Moon Wins Hammer Museum Award, Plans to Start Revolution

A diorama from Jennifer Moon's "Made in L.A." installation
A diorama from Jennifer Moon's "Made in L.A." installation
Jennifer Swann

The people have voted, and they're ready for a revolution.

That's the conclusion that can be drawn from the Hammer Museum's announcement yesterday of its "Made in L.A." Public Recognition Award recipient, Jennifer Moon. The interdisciplinary artist's work focuses on self-empowerment through a fantastical movement she calls "The Revolution."

What is the Revolution, you ask? "Ultimately it's about creating a world of continuous expansion for all on this Earth and beyond," says 41-year-old Moon, an alumna of UCLA and Art Center College of Design who in 2008 served nine months in prison after an attempted robbery. It's an event she says transformed her art practice and inspired her three-part Phoenix Rising Saga Series, the second installment of which is on display at "Made in L.A." through September 7.

The exhibit's top honor, the $100,000 Mohn Award, went to the Los Angeles Museum of Art, a tiny experimental exhibition space housed in founder Alice Konitz's Eagle Rock backyard. The $25,000 Career Achievement Award will be shared among married couple Michael Frimkess and Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, whose painted ceramics reflect a 50-year collaboration. All three awards are supported by  philanthropists Jarl and Pamela Mohn.

See also: Hammer Museum's Controversial Mohn Award Returns - With a Twist 

While many of the "Made in L.A." artists L.A. Weekly previously interviewed by email said they were either conflicted about the Public Recognition Award or had been too busy to worry about whether or not they'd win the only award decided by public vote, Moon admitted incorporating her desire to win the award into the artwork itself. Her "Made in L.A." installation includes a rainbow-colored text mural, several photographic self-portraits, an intricate miniature diorama and a detailed collection of graphs documenting her desires and fantasies.

"I had this fantasy that I would win both the Mohn Award and the Public Recognition Award, but then I fantasized that I would give the Public Recognition Award to the second runner-up because I didn't want to be greedy," Moon said by phone several weeks ago, before she knew she'd achieve at least one part of that fantasy.

"I probably have a better chance of winning the Public Recognition Award over the Mohn Award because I feel like groups of people like me better than individual art people," Moon said she wrote in a graph on display at the museum. Turns out, Moon's prophecy came true. 

Made in L.A. at the Hammer
Made in L.A. at the Hammer
Photo: Jennifer Swann

L.A. Weekly reached Moon by phone again yesterday, shortly after the awards announcement was made. "I think the work is a lot about love and me finding love," she now says. "And I kind of feel like finally [I've found] a love that's reciprocated. Maybe this is the kind of love that I was looking for." 

One example of her well-documented quest for love is a mural in the show that reads: "Once upon a time, there was a girl who made a deal with a cosmic entity to forfeit all romantic relations in exchange for her art career to flourish." If the Public Recognition Award is any indication, Moon's art career is indeed blossoming. 

The awards announcement came nearly two months after the opening of the Hammer's summer-long "Made in L.A." biennial, which includes 35 L.A.-based artists and art collectives. The Public Recognition Award, as determined by iPad votes from museum goers, garnered particular attention after one artist launched a social media campaign in an effort to win the $25,000 award.

Moon says she plans to celebrate her win by going horse-back riding. It's a fitting ritual considering that one of her "Made in L.A." pieces is a self portrait titled A Story of A Girl And A Horse: The Search for Courage.

"I really feel like the Revolution is possible or something, you know?" says Moon. "I feel kind of grateful and I feel kind of connected to the world, like there's some kind of mutual love happening. I'm thrilled." 


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