Meier Achievement Awards for 2022 Gives Thanks for Work of Five Chicago Artists

Ruben Aguirre, Bril Barrett, Kate Berry Brown, Tomeka Reid and avery r. young recognized for innovation, past achievements, and community contributions

The Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Charitable Foundation for the Arts today released the names of their 17th Arts Achievement Awards. Their Foundation recognizes Chicago-based artists in mid-career who push the artistic envelope.

This year, the Foundation is giving out five awards to Chicago area artists in several genres, a total of $200,000 in awards. The 2022s awardees are painter and muralist Ruben Aguirre, dancer and artistic director Bril Barrett, artist Kate Berry Brown, jazz cellist Tomeka Reid, and poet and interdisciplinary artist avery r. young.

Ruben Aguirre has produced murals in the Chicago area, across the U.S., and abroad. Aguirre’s work is an intersection of abstraction, graffiti, formalism, and mural painting. Ruben’s compositions organically build a visual language often referencing the socio-historical background of each site location. He has exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Hyde Park Art Center, and The National Museum of Mexican Art. His work has been covered by the Atlantic, the Washington Post, and Art News. Aguirre’s public works have been commissioned for clients such as Google, Adidas, Linked IN, Conde Nast, and others.
For more information, see

Kate Berry Brown is an abstract artist living and working in Evanston, Illinois. Through ink on paper and paint on wood, she explores contrasting ideas of abundance and gratitude with feelings of density and crowdedness in both motherhood and American humanity.

She holds a BFA from Washington University and a Masters in Floral Design from Boerma Instituut in Alsmeer, Holland. She has exhibited at galleries nationally, including the Colored Pencil Society’s International Exhibition in Atlanta, WomanMade Gallery in Chicago, and at the newly founded Stay Home Gallery in Tennessee. She has shown extensively in her home city of Evanston, IL, including Gallery 901, 1100 Florence Gallery and Over the Rainbow Gallery among others. For more information, see

Bril Barrett is a dedicated tap dancer, whose mission is to preserve and promote tap dance as a percussive art form, foster respect and admiration for the history and culture of tap, and continuously create opportunities for the art form and its practitioners.

Bril founded The M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy, located at the Harold Washington Cultural Center in Bronzeville. M.A.D.D. creates an alternative to the schools to prison pipeline that exist for many black and brown youth, including a very successful Novice to Performer program. Bril has taught and/or performed in Europe and across the United States. For more information, see

Tomeka Reid, cellist and composer, is one of the most original, versatile, and curious musicians in Chicago’s jazz and improvised music community over the last decade. Tomeka’s recordings with her Tomeka Reid Quartet showcase her improvisational acumen as well as her dynamic arrangements and compositional ability. She has also appeared with many of leading jazz artists of this generation, including Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Nicole Mitchell, Dee Alexander and Mike Reed.

Tomeka launched the first Chicago Jazz String Summit, a semi-annual three-day international festival of cutting edge string players held in Chicago. In the Fall of 2019 Tomeka Reid received a teaching appointment at Mills College as the Darius Milhaud chair in composition. Tomeka is a Foundation of the Arts (2019) and 3Arts Awardee (2016) awardee. She received her doctorate in music from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2017. Just recently, she was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. For more information, see

avery r. young is a poet and teaching artist who has been an Arts and Public Life Artist-In-Residence at the University of Chicago. He is a 3Arts Awardee, Cave Canem fellow and a co-director of The Floating Museum. His poetry and prose has been featured in BreakBeat Poets, Teaching Black, and Poetry Magazine. His most recent album tubman. (FPE Records) is the soundtrack to his first collection of visual and traditional poetry, neckbone: visual verses. His album booker t. soltreyne: a race rekkid engages matters of race, gender, and sexuality in America during the Obama Era.

Avery’s work in performance, visual text, and sound design has been featured in several exhibitions and theatre festivals—notably The Hip Hop Theatre Festival, The Museum of Contemporary Art, and American Jazz Museum. His theater credits include co-writing and co-producing the soundtrack for Lise Haller Baggeson’s Hatorgrade Retrograde: The Musical and during the pandemic, writing the libretto for The Chicago Lyric Opera’s groundbreaking Twilight: Gods. For more information, see