UCF Professor of Art Robert Rivers was named the winner of the 2021 Florida Prize in Contemporary Art.

The annual exhibition at the Orlando Museum of Art celebrates 10 of the most progressive artists in the state of Florida, ranging from emerging to mid-career. Each year, the prize and accompanying $20,000 monetary award are bestowed upon the exhibiting artist who has best explored significant ideas of art and culture.

“I would say it was one of the high points in my life to have had this happen,” Rivers says. “Part of what has made this so special is sharing it with my students. I got to hang the exhibit with some graduate students who volunteered and wanted to help. So, I think they were as happy as I was when I won. They were just generally thrilled and that made me feel really good that they were happy for me like that.”

Rivers has been a professor at UCF since 1980. Known for his prints, Rivers has had his work exhibited around the world, with selections housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, Scotland, Edinburgh’s International Festival, the College of Art of Dundee, Gray’s Art College and Seagate Gallery. Additionally, Aberdeen’s prestigious Peacock Press has published eight editions of his prints and the Edinburgh Printmakers’ Workshop has edited one print.

His artwork is on display at the Orlando Museum of Art through Aug. 22. On June 30, a museum curator will guide an informal tour focused on Rivers’ work. Pre-registration is suggested.

“Over Robert’s 40-year teaching career at UCF he has inspired countless students with his commitment to excellence in drawing,” says Rudy McDaniel, professor of English and Director of SVAD. “He educates our students not only about the technical skill of drawing, but also about how to properly see — lines, forms, and angles — and challenges students to focus and persevere through obstacles as they progress in skill. As for his own work, important art goes beyond just physical beauty and speaks to themes of universal importance. Robert’s art does that and it is wonderful to see his hard work recognized through his receipt of the Florida Prize.”

Previous faculty finalists for the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art include Amer Kobaslija in 2019, Brooks Dierdorff in 2018, Mark Gerstein in 2017 and Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz in 2015.

The Florida Prize Exhibition is on view from June 4 to August 22.