Aperture—Baxter St Next Step Award

2023 Next Step Award

Aperture and Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York, in partnership with the 7|G Foundation, are excited to announce Pao Houa Her as recipient of the 2023–24 Next Step Award.

Her will receive a $10,000 artist’s grant and publish a photobook with Aperture, accompanied by an exhibition at Baxter St at CCNY in spring of 2024.

The Next Step Award supports US-based artists at critical junctures in their artistic development. Reconsidering equity across the country and in arts institutions, the award also supports the presentation of diverse opinions, as well as timely lens-based work that is relevant to today’s visual culture and society across a wide array of genres or approaches. The Next Step Award was initiated in 2020. Previous recipients include Zora J Murff and Tommy Kha, whose forthcoming publication and exhibition will be presented in February 2023.

“Baxter St is thrilled to present Pao Houa Her with the 2023–24 Next Step Award,” says Jil Weinstock, executive director of Baxter St. “As an incubator to support and amplify dynamic and emerging voices, Baxter St is proud to support Her’s work, which highlights the shared experience of the Hmong community both abroad and as immigrants in the US. Aligning with an ethos of uplifting voices deserving greater recognition, Baxter St is honored to support Her’s practice and ongoing artistic growth.” 

Pao Houa Her has been granted this award for her various series exploring how the international Hmong community makes and remakes their collective memory. Her says, “My work attempts to break down the larger story of what it means to be a Hmong American into discrete moments in time. I see each small moment, each new portrait, as a kind of poetic note in a broader, diffuse narrative. My most recent work moves into even more conceptual space, using constructed/staged elements to play with themes of geography and longing.”

“For the many who were inspired by Pao Houa Her’s installation at the Whitney Biennial earlier this year, this exhibition at Baxter St and the accompanying Aperture publication provide a welcome opportunity to experience her work on its own terms,” observes Sarah Meister, Aperture’s executive director. “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Baxter St and 7|G to support emerging voices in the field.”

Her was chosen out of an extremely competitive list of artists, nominated by a diverse group of artists and curators who brought expertise and artistic experience to the selection process. The nomination committee included Shantell Martin, Greg Harris, Wendy Red Star, and Akili Tommasino.

The roster of nominated artists who submitted to the prize included Nydia Blas, Rose Marie Cromwell, Jill Frank, Lizzie Gill, Genevieve Gaignard, Kyoko Hamaguchi, Tarrah Krajnak, Qiana Mestrich, Flo Ngala, Chanell Stone, and Patssi Valdez.

About Pao Houa Her

Pao Houa Her (b. 1982) is a Hmong American artist whose practice engages with legacies and potentials of landscape, portraiture, and documentary photographic traditions, creating works that examine identity, longing, and belonging in Hmong diasporic communities. Among Her’s solo exhibitions are Paj qaum ntuj / Flowers of the Sky, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Emplotment, Or Gallery, Vancouver; and My grandfather turned into a tiger, Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis. Recently exhibited in the Whitney Biennial, her work has been included in group exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC; Milwaukee Art Museum; MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Minneapolis Institute of Art; among many others. A prizewinner in the 2022 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, Her was also a recipient of the McKnight Visual Artists Fellowship and Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists. Notable public collections include the Singapore Art Museum and Walker Art Center. Her is an assistant professor in photography and moving images at the University Minnesota. She holds an MFA in photography from Yale University School of Art and a BFA in photography from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Her is represented by Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis.

About Aperture

Aperture, a not-for-profit foundation, connects the photo community and its audiences with the most inspiring work, the sharpest ideas, and with each other—in print, in person, and online. Created in 1952 by photographers and writers as “common ground for the advancement of photography,” Aperture today is a multiplatform publisher and center for the photo community. From its base in New York, Aperture produces, publishes, and presents a variety of photography projects and programs—locally, across the United States, and around the world.

About 7|G Foundation

7|G Foundation champions organizations and individuals that challenge inequality in human rights, education, art, and culture. By partnering with organizations, artists, and community facilitators, we seek to build strong community bonds that elevate local culture while supporting cultural change founded upon our core social impact and sustainability values.