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Genger named deCordova’s Rappaport winner

Orly Genger will receive $25,000 from the deCordova to help her continue her large-scale work. Orly Genger will receive $25,000 from the deCordova to help her continue her large-scale work. (OMI International Arts Center)
By Geoff Edgers
Globe Staff / October 14, 2011

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Her work has been seen everywhere from Mass MoCA, where mounds of industrial rope spilled from one gallery into another, to a New York boutique, where underwear-clad models lay inside the endless knots.

Now, Orly Genger’s art is being recognized by the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, which announced today it is naming her the 12th recipient of the institution’s Rappaport Prize. Genger, 32, will receive $25,000 and a morale-boosting endorsement for creating pieces that, she says, can take as long as two years to complete.

“What it’s going to do is help me continue working on the scale I want to work,’’ she said in a phone interview from New York, where she lives. “It’s kind of a pat on the back that keeps you going.’’

In winning the Rappaport, Genger joins a roster of artists that includes Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Ursula von Rydingsvard, and Liza Johnson. The prize is awarded to artists with New England ties. In Genger’s case, that’s her exhibition history in Massachusetts and her study at Brown University, where she earned her undergraduate degree.

A committee made up of deCordova curators selected Genger from a group of nominated artists.

“I like the sheer ambition of her work,’’ said Nick Capasso, the deCordova’s deputy director for curatorial affairs. “There’s something about all that rope. It’s like a spectacle of labor. It just prompts this immediate, visceral reaction because of the size and the scale and the complexity.’’

Genger’s work is created by knotting rope in large sections, painting it in the studio, and bringing the pieces to a site to build it. She often hires crews to work with her creations, which she compares to “wrestling with an octopus.’’

“When it gets most challenging,’’ she said, “is kind of when you’re in the thick of it. Another reason is that so many times, if something’s taking you a year or two to make, you grow and your ideas change but you have to stay committed to whatever you started with.’’

Capasso said that he’s seen Genger’s work in New York and also at Mass MoCA, where she was part of 2010-2011 group exhibition “Material World: Sculpture to Environment.’’ Still unclear is whether the deCordova will buy or show one of the Genger’s pieces, though the museum and the artist are having discussions.

At the moment, Genger said she’s creating a large public work commissioned for a park in New York and a piece meant to be included in the Art Basel Miami Beach, which takes place in December. She said she would love to be able to show a piece at the deCordova.

“I adore the museum,’’ she said. “When I first went there, I thought the landscape was actually quite romantic, much more than any other museum I’d been to.’’

Geoff Edgers can be reached at gedgers@globe.com.