The Pittsburgh Foundation

$100,000 in Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards go to two Pittsburgh-region artists

Tina Williams Brewer, Adil Mansoor are recipients of awards supported by The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Heinz Endowments


PITTSBURGH, June 27, 2024 – Visual artist Tina Williams Brewer and theatrical director Adil Mansoor are this year’s winners of the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards. Selected from a field of 225 nominations, Brewer and Mansoor will each receive an unrestricted $50,000 prize.

As the Established Artist honoree, Brewer is recognized for a remarkable body of work produced over decades, and for her sterling reputation across a wide spectrum of her peers. As the Emerging Artist winner, Mansoor is being honored for developing a body of work that selection committee members judged to be of outstanding quality, and that he has strong potential for future growth.

Co-sponsored by The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments since 2012, the awards program highlights the importance of the arts to the Pittsburgh region. It is based on the two foundations’ shared commitment to providing career-advancement opportunities to Pittsburgh-based artists. The importance of nurturing artistic talent and retaining artists locally has been championed by award namesake Ms. Brown, who was president of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust from 1986 to 2000. She led the revitalization of Pittsburgh’s Downtown arts district, which remains core to the vitality of the region’s cultural community.

“This awards program is dear to us at The Pittsburgh Foundation because it validates each year the achievement of one of this city’s shining lights, Carol Brown, who has championed a world-class arts ecosystem,” said Foundation President Lisa Schroeder. “Tina and Adil are superb examples of how talented artists, deeply rooted in the community, generate fresh creativity.”  

“Tina Williams Brewer and Adil Mansoor exemplify the vibrant, diverse and world-class artists that are woven throughout our region’s creative lineage,” said Endowments President Chris DeCardy. “The thriving creative community that Carol Brown worked so enthusiastically to nurture and sustain is alive and wonderfully manifested in Adil and Tina’s beautiful, inspiring art.” 

Brewer began quilting in 1986, weaving symbolism into her works to tell stories on issues of women and children, spirituality of the African American culture, generational healing, spirituality and her personal experiences associated with them. She also works in artistic community outreach, sharing her knowledge to encourage others, especially young people, to create and share art.

For the last 14 years, Mansoor has based his performance pieces on stories of people of color and those in the queer community. He has largely focused on directing and collaborating with Pittsburgh-based companies including The Pittsburgh Playhouse, Pearl Arts and Quantum Theatre. He challenges institutions by presenting experimental, thought-provoking scripts. Recently, he has been exploring his own experience as the queer eldest of three siblings in a family of Muslims with roots in Pakistan through AMM(I)GONE, a reimagining of Sophocles’ ANTIGONE.

Nominees for the Awards program are recommended to the two supporting foundations’ staffs by a panel of working artists and cultural professionals with significant experience at the national and/or international level in their fields. That process resulted in 225 nominations for 70 different artists. To learn more about the awards, including a list of previous honorees, visit https://pittsburghfoundation.org/carolrbrown
 
About Established Artist Awardee Tina Williams Brewer: Born in West Virginia, Brewer says her close-knit community gave her a strong foundation in family and spiritual connections. She graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design and eventually moved to Pittsburgh. Her work reflects observations and interpretations of her journey as a wife, mother, community volunteer, businesswoman and teaching artist. She began to explore the importance of knowing her cultural origins after moving to Pittsburgh. Living in Homewood, Brewer has seen many changes and has incorporated the experiences and observations into her story quilts.  

“I am a weaver of fabric scraps that I believe embody the feelings and the personal energy of others,” she says. “The fabric gives me a personal insight into other cultural connections. These deep connections are woven into my work, sometimes reflected in the fabric choices, or the vibrant color pallet, but the origin story of the quilt is always reflective of the people’s voice and inquiry. I feel the ancestors are guiding me through the process as an artist working in the visual and oral traditions. The gift I have been given allows me to mentor and empower others as they learn to find their own voice and create their own work and stories.” 

Brewer’s work has been widely displayed locally and internationally including exhibitions at the United States Embassy in Ghana and the American Craft Museum in New York City.  

About Emerging Artist Awardee Adil Mansoor: Mansoor is a theater director whose work combines performance, confessional storytelling, collective experiences and socially engaged practice. He engages audiences with questions he believes keep people up at night. Instead of answers, Mansoor seeks surprise, tension and joy. He is drawn to stories about the families we come from and the families we choose: An estranged sibling returning home to destroy a wedding, a trio of sisters haunted by their mother and a queer couple seen through the eyes of their backyard chickens. Most recently, he has explored his own story through AMM(I)GONE. 

“AMM(I)GONE, an adaptation of Sophocles’ ANTIGONE, is an apology to and from my mom,” he says. “Since discovering my queerness, my mother has turned towards her faith in an attempt to save me in the afterlife. In an effort toward healing, I invited my mom to join me as a dramaturg and co-conspirator. In reading, discussing and translating various adaptations of the source play, together we mine Greek tragedy, Islamic traditions and our memories to create an original performance locating love across faith. Can prayer substantiate care? Can care manifest as artistic methodology and inquiry? Can my mother and I contend with Antigone’s fate?” The play was first presented in 2022 by Kelly Strayhorn Theater and embarked on a national tour in 2024 that has so far included runs in Washington D.C and New Haven, Connecticut.

History of the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards: The program began in 1991 as the Creative Achievement Awards by Carol R. Brown. Ms. Brown, who was president of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust from 1986 to 2001, oversaw the transformation of a 14-square-block area of Downtown Pittsburgh from a red-light district to a nationally recognized model for arts-based community redevelopment. The awards program was on hiatus from 2002 to 2011, but in 2012, as part of their Investing in Professional Artists: The Pittsburgh Region Artists Program, which supports working artists and their creative processes from concept to completion, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments resurrected the awards and renamed them the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards.  

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