Museum of Art and Design Burke Prize

Selva Aparicio 2023 Winner

By: - Nov 02, 2023

Museum of Arts and Design Announces Selva Aparicio as Winner of 2023 Burke Prize


The Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist utilizes nature and ephemera to tackle ideas of memory, intimacy, and mourning.

Burke Prize 2023 Installation
November 6, 2023–March 24, 2024


The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) announces Selva Aparicio as the winner of the 2023 Burke Prize. Established in 2018, the Museum’s biennial prize honoring excellence in contemporary craft is named for craft collectors Marian and Russell Burke. It awards an unrestricted $50,000 to an artist aged 45 or under working in the United States, whose highly accomplished work is conceptually rigorous, relevant, and pushes the boundaries of materials and creative process. Aparicio’s work will be the focus of a special installation at the Museum on view from November 6, 2023–March 24, 2024.

Born and raised outside of Barcelona and now based in Chicago, Aparicio is an interdisciplinary artist working across installation, sculpture, and performance to create artwork that delves into ideas of memory, death, intimacy, and mourning. Inspired by her observations of the cycles of life and death in the natural world, she explores the dissonances between nature and contemporary life that have arisen in the twenty-first century.

“MAD’s Burke Prize is a platform for artists using the expressiveness of craft to confront some of the most relevant topics of the day, from the social to the political to the biographical,” said Elissa Auther, MAD’s Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator. “Selva pairs evocative materials such as reclaimed cemetery flowers, cicada wings, and human hair with traditional craft techniques like weaving, carving, and sewing in a painstaking and lengthy handcrafted process that produces profoundly moving pieces. Although the work often stands in stark contrast to the fast-paced technological world it holds in conversation, it raises questions about our arrival in the present and the viability of the future under existing systems.”

MAD Trustee Marian Burke, who endowed the prize with her husband, Russell, said: “Rusty and I are thrilled to celebrate the new generation advancing the craft movement. We congratulate Selva on her exceptional achievement. Her work demonstrates the field’s ever-expanding possibilities.”

“I am profoundly grateful to have been selected as the winner of the 2023 Burke Prize,” said Aparicio. “This recognition is an incredible honor, especially when I reflect on the remarkable talents of past recipients and fellow applicants. The prospect of amplifying the visibility and impact of my work fills me with great enthusiasm and renews my sense of purpose. Securing the necessary resources for these creative endeavors can be challenging, making this support truly invaluable. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to the jurors, the Museum of Arts and Design, and the Burkes for their boundless generosity and unwavering commitment to the arts.”

Aparicio’s Absence Remains, 2023, will be installed in the Museum lobby from November 6, 2023–March 24, 2024. The piece explores the function of art as a therapeutic outlet, a recurring theme in Aparicio’s work. Crafted from a reclaimed cemetery teddy bear and collected dandelion fluff, Absence Remains is part of a series that gives viewers the opportunity to consider death and human life and the heavy emotions that are often bound with the taboo nature of these topics.

A jury of professionals in the fields of art, craft, and design selected Aparicio as the winner from hundreds of submissions. The 2023 jurors are Camille Ann Brewer, artist and arts information professional; Garth Johnson, Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan Curator of Ceramics, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY; and Charisse Pearlina Weston, artist and writer and 2021 Burke Prize winner.

“For me, Aparicio’s work had an immediate visual impact due to the care and respect she shows for her materialism,” said Brewer. “Sourcing from her own family history, and personally acquainted with the need for craft to satisfy the body and soul, Aparicio examines her role as a maker in a long lineage of craft practitioners. This context informs the materials Aparicio chooses and dictates her approach to manipulating those materials, providing a sense of grounding, knowing, and comfort in the work she produces with her hands.”

The 2023 Burke Prize jury also recognized four finalists for their impressive bodies of work, innovative use of materials, and their unique perspective on the role of craft today. They are Alex Chitty, Chicago, IL; Kira Dominguez Hultgren, Urbana, IL; Julia Phillips, Chicago, IL; and Brie Ruais, Santa Fe, NM.

On November 15, the 2023 Burke Prize winner and finalists will be celebrated with an invitation-only panel discussion moderated by Auther to include presentations of their work for invited supporters and friends of the MAD community. [EDITORS’ NOTE: A limited number of seats has been reserved for press. Please email to express interest in attending.]

Since the inaugural award in 2018, MAD’s Burke Prize has spotlighted the work and practices of an impressive roster of artists. Previous winners include Charisse Pearlina Weston (2021), Indira Allegra (2019), and Cannupa Hanska Luger (2018). Past finalists include Tanya Aguiñiga (2018), Ilana Harris Babou (2021), Bisa Butler (2019), Amber Cowan (2019), Salvador Jiménez-Flores (2019), Hugh Hayden (2021), Roberto Lugo (2019), Jordan Nassar (2018), Maryam Yousif (2021), and Sarah Zapata (2019), among others.

Burke Prize 2023 is curated by MAD Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator Elissa Auther with support from Curatorial Assistants Jasmine Chavez Helm and Elizabeth Koehn.

The Museum of Arts and Design is grateful for the generosity of Marian and Russell Burke for making possible the 2023 Burke Prize.


Spain, born 1987; lives in Chicago, Illinois

Selva Aparicio is an interdisciplinary artist working across installation and sculpture to dig deeper into ideas of memory, intimacy, and the temporality of life. She was raised on the outskirts of Barcelona, a land once cherished by the Catalan bourgeoisie, abandoned and reduced to ruins during the Spanish Civil War. It later transformed into a refuge for squatters, immigrants, and society's outcasts, now being reclaimed as a natural park. Aparicio found solace in nature from a young age and cultivated a profound interest in the ephemeral, as inspired by the natural world around her. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 and her MFA in sculpture from Yale University in 2017, honing a praxis that foregrounds a unique reverence for the discarded in explorations of life, death, and rebirth. Aparicio’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT; Can Mario Museum, Spain; CRUSH Curatorial, New York; The Kyoto International Craft Center, Japan; Instituto Cervantes, New York; and the Centre de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona, among others. Aparicio was awarded the JUNCTURE Fellowship in Art and International Human Rights in 2016, the Blair Dickinson Memorial Prize in 2017, and a MAKER Grant from the Chicago Artist Coalition in 2020. She was named one of the 2020 breakout artists in Chicago by NewCity Art and received both the Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation’s Artadia Award in 2022 and the 3Arts HMS Fund Award in 2023. Her sculpture Auto-da-Fé, exhibited at EXPO Chicago 2023, was also donated to the DePaul Art Museum with funds from the Inaugural Barbara Nessim Acquisition Prize. She is currently serving as the International Randall Chair in Sculpture and Dimensional Studies at Alfred University in New York and working on two outdoor permanent sculpture commissions for Belgium’s Beaufort 2024 Triennale and the Heraclea Archeological Park in Italy.


The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary makers across creative fields and presents the work of artists, designers, and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill. Since the Museum’s founding in 1956 by philanthropist and visionary Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of making and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies. Today, the Museum’s curatorial program builds upon a rich history of exhibitions that emphasize a cross-disciplinary approach to art and design and reveals the workmanship behind the objects and environments that shape our everyday lives. MAD provides an international platform for practitioners who are influencing the direction of cultural production and driving twenty-first century innovation and fosters a participatory setting for visitors to have direct encounters with skilled making and compelling works of art and design. For more information, visit