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The first prize winner of the XL Catlin Art Prize was announced on Wednesday, November 28 at a reception at the New York Academy of Art. Monica Ikegwu, a student from the Maryland Institute College of Art, won $10,000 in a competition for American art students juried by art stars Nicole Eisenman, Eric Fischl and Amy Sherald, along with Jennifer Schipf, Senior Vice President Fine Art & Specie insurance at AXA XL, the official sponsor of the Prize.

Ms. Ikegwu is the first winner of the Prize, which was launched in December 2017 and is the nation’s first and most prestigious student art competition devoted to figurative art. Ms. Ikegwu’s winning painting “Jaden” is part of a series that depicts African-American males with a red light reflected on their faces, symbolizing the dangerous aspect that they are labeled within society. Her work is strongly focused on portraiture of African-Americans and the artist’s life in Baltimore.

The second prize winner was Anthony White of Cornish College of the Arts for his painting “Bottomless Mimosa Brunch.” Mr. White will receive a prize of $3,500.

Over 700 undergraduate and graduate fine art students from across the country applied and 40 were shortlisted by curators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum and Gagosian Gallery. The shortlisted artists, 20 young women and 20 young men, are enrolled at 24 different schools and range in age from 19 to 27. The artists hail from four different countries and 19 states across the U.S.

The exhibition of shortlisted works traveled to San Francisco and Chicago during the fall and finished its tour at the New York Academy of Art this November, accompanied by an illustrated catalogue featuring an essay by Kurt Kauper. The Prize boasts an Advisory Board of 22 major art schools across the U.S., including Yale School of Art, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia University School of Arts, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Pratt Institute and Bard College.

For more information about the Prize, Advisory Board and Jurors, and to view the shortlisted artworks, go to


About AXA XL

AXA XL provides insurance and risk management products and services for mid-sized companies through to large multinationals, and reinsurance solutions to insurance companies globally. We partner with those who move the world forward. To learn more, visit

About AXA XL Insurance

AXA XL Insurance offers property, casualty, professional, financial lines and specialty insurance solutions to mid-sized companies through to large multinationals globally. We partner with those who move the world forward. To learn more, visit

About The New York Academy of Art

Founded in 1982 by artists, scholars and patrons of the arts, including Andy Warhol, the New York Academy of Art is a not-for-profit education and cultural institution which combines intensive technical training in drawing, painting and sculpture with active critical discourse. Academy students are taught traditional methods and techniques and encouraged to use these skills to make vital contemporary art. Through major exhibitions, a lively speaker series, and an ambitious educational program, the Academy serves as a creative and intellectual center for all artists dedicated to highly skilled, conceptually aware figurative and representational art.