Julie Leidner wins Mary Alice Hadley Prize for Visual Art

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Co-collaborators of a documentary-style graphic novel, Katy Delahanty and Julie Leidner, with a few of the pioneering feminists to be featured, Delores Delahanty, Dr. Renee Campbell and Judi Jennings.

The Community Foundation of Louisville and Louisville Visual Art Association presented Louisville-based painter, writer, illustrator and collage artist Julie Leidner with the third annual Mary Alice Hadley Prize for Visual Art on Thursday, June 11. The special event was held at PUBLIC at LVAA, 131 W. Main St. The $5,000 award is an opportunity for local artists to enhance their careers with an enrichment experience.

In collaboration with another local artist, Katy Delahanty, Leidner is pursuing a documentary-style graphic novel that tells the stories of pioneering feminist social activists in Kentucky. Leidner will use the $5,000 Hadley Prize to travel to New York City to attend the 10th annual New York Art Book Fair and the seventh annual Contemporary Artists’ Book Conference, as well as view museum exhibitions, attend panels and participate in workshops directly related to the collaborative project.

The $5,000 M.A. Hadley Prize is awarded from the George and Mary Alice Hadley Fund at the Community Foundation of Louisville. The endowment was established in 1991, and it supports the arts and humanities, particularly visual arts, crafts, theater and the Louisville Free Public Library. The award is a partnership between the Community Foundation of Louisville and the Louisville Visual Art Association, which managed the application process.

The M.A. Hadley Prize Selection Committee comprises a diverse panel of arts professionals from both Louisville and the surrounding area. All 50 applicants this year were members of LVAA living in the Louisville Metro area and working in the following media: ceramics, graphic design, drawing, crafts, painting, photography, sculpture, video and/or film, printmaking and installation. Leidner was selected for her overall artistic vision, body of work, and the originality of her project.

“The selection committee was very impressed with the artistic samples that Julie provided because they showed true innovation,” said Hallenberg. “Additionally, the potential community impact that her project will have — telling the story of some of Louisville’s pioneering feminists — stood out for the jurors and underlined our interest in supporting the creative community within Louisville.”

When Leidner’s paternal grandmother died in the fall of 2014, she said she regretted not asking her more about her life, accomplishments and dreams. At the same, Delahanty’s paternal grandmother, Dolores Delahanty, a prominent figure in local government, was selecting a group of her peers to write memoirs about their lives and accomplishments.

“We jumped at the chance to combine forces with one another and with the 14 incredible women that Mrs. Delahanty has organized,” Leidner said. “With my grandmother in mind, I recognize that these particular women may not be able to share their wisdom first-hand for much longer, and Katy and I want to record and preserve their voices while it is still possible.

“Our graphic novel project aims to produce a creative multimedia display of our cross-generational dialogue, which we hope will demonstrate to the public how important these women (and women in general) have been in shaping local history and people’s lives,” Leidner added.

“Louisville is known for supporting our arts community in big ways,” said Barry. “The Hadley Prize is a bit different because it focuses on a single artist and a single project. The Community Foundation is proud to partner on this arts competition because we know that giving an artist like Julie the chance to focus on a targeted, personal enrichment experience can make all the difference in achieving her full potential, and ultimately Louisville will be the beneficiary.”