Press RoomPhoenix Art Museum announces 2024 Arizona Artist Awards winners

Phoenix Art Museum announces 2024 Arizona Artist Awards winners

Jun, 24, 2024

Modern and Contemporary ArtMedia Alerts

Phoenix Art Museum announces 2024 Arizona Artist Awards winners

Safwat Saleem, Elizabeth Z. Pineda, and Omar Soto to receive funding and exhibition opportunities as the next cohort of Scult and Lehmann Emerging Artist Award recipients

Image credit: Safwat Saleem, Anxieties of an Immigrant Father Part II, 2022. Charcoal and mixed media. Courtesy of the Artist

PHOENIX (June 24, 2024) – Phoenix Art Museum (PhxArt) has named Safwat Saleem the recipient of the 2024 Arlene and Morton Scult Artist Award (Scult Artist Award) and Elizabeth Z. Pineda and Omar Soto as the recipients of the 2024 Sally and Richard Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards (Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards). In addition to a lifetime Phoenix Art Museum Membership, Saleem receives monetary support in the amount of $20,000, while Pineda and Soto receive $10,000 each, as well as the opportunity to show work in solo and group exhibitions at the Museum. Exhibitions featuring works by Safwat Saleem, Elizabeth Z. Pineda, and Omar Soto will premiere summer 2025, in conjunction with an artist talk presented by Saleem.Exhibition details will be available soon on

“We are thrilled to confer this year’s Scult and Lehmann Artist Awards to Safwat Saleem, Elizabeth Z. Pineda, and Omar Soto, in recognition of their artistic contributions to our local arts and culture landscape,” said Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Museum’s Sybil Harrington Director and CEO. “Each of these artists have built dynamic practices that offer intimate views into their personal stories, providing nuanced perspectives on themes such as identity and community. We are honored to share their work  with our audiences and advance our ongoing commitment to amplifying the voices of artists from our shared state through our Arizona Artist Awards program.”

Each year, Phoenix Art Museum recognizes a mid-career Arizona-based artist with the Scult Artist Award. Eligible candidates have resided in Arizona for a minimum of four consecutive years and are nominated by a group of curators, museum directors, and other arts professionals from across the state. Their candidacy is evaluated based on their demonstration of artistic excellence, active creation and exhibition of new work, and career-spanning evolution. Following a robust review process, a jury of curators, art scholars, artists, and other experts and professionals in the field from across the state selects the recipient. The Scult Artist Award now includes monetary support of $20,000—the highest amount awarded to a Scult recipient in the program’s history—as well as an invitation to present a solo exhibition of new and past work at the Museum, at the discretion of the artist, and a lifetime PhxArt Membership. The 2024 Scult Artist Award jury was assembled by Christian Ramírez, Cohn Assistant Curator of Contemporary and Community Art Initiatives at Phoenix Art Museum The panel of jurors included 2023 Scult Award recipient Jenea Sanchez, Communications Director at the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona; Andrea Alvarez, Associate Curator at Buffalo AKG Art Museum; Alexis Wilkinson, Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Tucson; and Morton Scult.

The 2024 Arlene and Morton Scult Artist Award recipient is Safwat Saleem. Saleem’s multidisciplinary practice ranges from graphic design and illustration to writing, film, and sound, centering on immigrant narratives and the cultural loss that results from assimilation. His body of work weaves together themes of preservation, desire to belong, resistance, and joy as an immigrant father raising a multiracial child in the southwestern United States. Humor is a critical element of his work; he uses satire as a tool to challenge perceptions. He aims to bring to the foreground points of view that historically have been obscured by hegemonic systems. Saleem has been named a TED Fellow, a Define American Fellow, and an AAPI Creative Catalyst Fellow. He believes in using art for social impact and has collaborated with change-making organizations including Represent Us Now (RUN) AAPI, South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), 18 Million Rising, and Fine Acts. He is the founder of the former online Pakistani music magazine Bandbaja, which advocated for using popular music as a tool for activism and change. As part of the Scult Artist Award program, Saleem will present work in a solo exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum in summer 2025.

In addition to the Scult Artist Award, Phoenix Art Museum annually presents the Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards. The program fosters the creative practices and careers of emerging Arizona-based artists through recognition, financial support, and an opportunity to exhibit their work. Candidates must have resided in Arizona for a minimum of one year and are invited to apply through an annual open call hosted by Artlink, a nonprofit organization that has supported and amplified Arizona artists and community-based art events and initiatives for more than 30 years. A jury of curators, art scholars, artists, and other visual arts experts and professionals from across the state select recipients, who, in addition to the lifetime PhxArt Membership, receive $10,000 in monetary support, as well as the opportunity to present a joint exhibition at the Museum with fellow Lehmann awardees. The 2024 Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards jury was assembled by Christian Ramírez and included 2023 Scult Award recipient Jenea Sanchez, Andrea Alvarez, and Alexis Wilkinson.

The Museum has named Elizabeth Z. Pineda and Omar Soto as the recipients of the 2024 Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards. Originally from Mexico City, Pineda is an emerging artist whose practice using historical and untraditional photographic, printmaking, papermaking, and book-art processes explores issues surrounding immigration, identity, displacement, and migrant deaths that occur in the Arizona desert. Pineda visually articulates  community, touching on language barriers, culture, and society. Her work has been showcased in solo and group exhibitions nationally, and have been published in, Femme Fotale, Vol. V: Resistance, Resilience, and Hope, and The Experimental Darkroom: Contemporary Uses of Black & White Photographic Materials. In 2023 she was awarded the Pat Mutterer Award at the Arizona Biennial at the Tucson Museum of Art , as well as first prize and honorable mention in the 18th, 20th, and 22nd Julia Margaret Cameron Awards. Pineda’s portfolio was recognized for Outstanding Work in the 2022 Denis Roussel Award, and her project Maíz was selected as the CENTER 2023 Personal Award recipient and the inaugural recipient of the Jay and Susie Tyrrell Excellence in Works By Hand Award. Pineda holds an MFA in Photography from Arizona State University and is a member of Undoc + Collective. In addition to her studio practice, she teaches photography as a faculty associate at Arizona State University and works in Library Information Services at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine.

Omar Soto is an undocumented Phoenix-based photographer who creates surreal imagery that explores queer joy and escapism to navigate the marginalization they endure while living at the intersection of race, gender, and social class. Born in Tijuana in 1996, Soto migrated to the United States in the year 2000. With a passion for the arts, they studied at South Mountain High School under the institution’s magnet photography program, learning fundamental photography skills while  enriching their artistic practice. As part of the Lehmann Artist Awards program, Soto and Pineda will present work in a group exhibition, also scheduled to open at Phoenix Art Museum in summer 2025. “I am thrilled to collaborate with Safwat, Omar, and Elizabeth on their upcoming exhibitions and engage museum visitors with their dynamic practices and wide range of perspectives,” said Christian Ramírez, the Cohn Assistant Curator of Contemporary and Community Art Initiatives, who oversees the Arizona Artist Awards program. “Their unique artistic voices greatly enrich Arizona’s cultural landscape.”

The Arizona Artist Awards at Phoenix Art Museum are made possible through the generosity of Arlene and Morton Scult; Sally and Richard Lehmann; and the Cohn Fund for Arts and Culture, a founding gift of the Phoenix Art Museum Education and Engagement Excellence Fund.

For more information, contact the Museum’s Communications Office at or 602.257.2117. For high-resolution photography, click here.

About Phoenix Art Museum
Since 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has provided millions of guests with access to world-class art and experiences in an effort to ignite imaginations, create meaningful connections, and serve as a brave space for all people who wish to experience the transformative power of art. Located in Phoenix’s Central Corridor, the Museum is a vibrant destination for the visual arts and the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. Each year, more than 350,000 guests engage with critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions and the Museum’s collection of more than 20,000 works of American and Western American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. The Museum also presents a comprehensive film program, live performances, and educational programs designed for visitors of all ages, along with vibrant photography exhibitions made possible through the Museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit, or call 602.257.1880.

About Artlink Inc.
Artlink keeps the arts integral to our development by connecting artists, businesses, and the community. Founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization by artists in 1989, the Artlink name is a guiding principle for the organization, as it supports stakeholders of the arts and culture community, amplifying its collective strength. Visit to sign up for the Artlink newsletter, or connect socially on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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