<em>Rachel Youn: Gather</em>, Great Rivers Biennial 2020, installation view, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, September 11, 2020—February 21, 2021. Photo: Will Driscoll.
Rachel Youn: Gather, Great Rivers Biennial 2020, installation view, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, September 11, 2020—February 21, 2021. Photo: Will Driscoll.

Great Rivers Biennial

Established in 2003, the Great Rivers Biennial is a collaborative exhibition program presented by CAM and the Gateway Foundation. This major initiative identifies talented emerging and mid-career artists working in the greater St. Louis metro area, provides them with financial assistance, and elevates their profile across the Midwest and national arts communities. Every two years, three winners are selected to receive $20,000 and are featured in the Great Rivers Biennial exhibition at CAM in the following summer. Learn more about the Great Rivers Biennial.

Selection Process

A panel of distinguished jurors reviews all submissions that meet the eligibility requirements. The jurors choose ten semi-finalists and visit these artists’ studios. Afterward, the jurors select up to three winners. CAM curatorial staff may also attend the studio visits; however the selection process is made exclusively by the three jurors.

The call for artists for the Great Rivers Biennial 2024 has officially closed. Please check back in Spring 2025 for the next application cycle.

Related program: Great Rivers Biennial Application Workshop on Thursday, April 20, 2023



Drawing, film and video, installation, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture


  • Artist must currently reside in the St. Louis metro area, including St. Louis City and the counties of St. Louis, Jefferson, and St. Charles in Missouri or St. Clair and Madison in Illinois.
  • Artist must have lived in the St. Louis metro area (six counties) for at least one year prior to the application deadline (June 4, 2023)
  • Artist must continue to reside in the St. Louis metro area during the designated planning, production, and exhibition period (August 2023–August 2024).
  • Artist may not have previously received a Great Rivers Biennial award.
  • Artist may be a degree-seeking graduate student. All other students are ineligible.
  • Artist must be available for a studio visit with the jurors on July 31 and August 1, 2023. Alternative spaces may be arranged if artist does not have a studio. The jurors will choose ten semi-finalists to receive these visits. Visits must be in-person, not by phone or video.



2024 Artists

The 2024 Great Rivers Biennial award recipients will be announced in August 2023.

2024 Jurors

Rita Gonzalez is the Terri and Michael Smooke Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where she has curated Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement (2008); Asco: Elite of the Obscure (2011); Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection (2013); Agnés Varda in Californialand (2013–14); In Production: Art and the Studio System (2019–20); Christian Marclay: Sound Stories (2019); and View From Here: Recent Acquisitions (2020), among other exhibitions. Gonzalez curated L.A. Exuberance: New Gifts by Artists (2016–17), an exhibition that featured 60 artists’ gifts and marked the culmination of LACMA’s 50th anniversary year. From 1997–99, she was the Lila Wallace Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. She was on the curatorial advisory team for Prospect 3 New Orleans and part of the curatorial teams for the first Current L.A. Biennial in 2016 and the Gwangju Biennale in 2018. Gonzalez was a 2018 Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellow.

Jamillah James is the Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She was co-curator (with Margot Norton) of Soft Water Hard Stone, the 2021 New Museum Triennial, and has held curatorial positions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Queens Museum, New York. Her recent projects include the survey Rebecca Morris: 2001–2022 (2022), Enter the Mirror (2022–23), and Sara Cwynar: Apple Red/Grass Green/Sky Blue (2021). She has organized exhibitions of Nayland Blake, Lucas Blalock, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Alex Da Corte, Stanya Kahn, Simone Leigh, Harold Mendez, and B. Wurtz, among others. James is a recipient of the Noah Davis Prize from the Underground Museum, Los Angeles; Chanel Culture Fund (2021); Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Curatorial Research Fellowship (2021); and VIA Art Foundation Curatorial Fellowship (2018).

Caroline Kent is a Chicago-based visual artist. Kent received a BS from Illinois State University (1998) and an MFA from The University of Minnesota (2008). Kent’s work has been exhibited in institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley; The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The DePaul Art Museum, Chicago; The California African American Museum, Los Angeles; The Flag Art Foundation, New York; The Suburban, Oak Park, IL; and the University Galleries of Illinois State University, Normal, IL. Kent has received grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, and The Jerome Foundation. Additionally, the artist is the 2021 recipient of the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Joyce Alexander Wein Prize, and was selected as an Artadia Foundation Chicago awardee in 2020. Kent’s work is a part of numerous public collections including the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Walker Art Center, Art Institute of Chicago, New Orleans Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, among others. Kent is an Assistant Professor of Painting at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

Past Recipients