Now in its twenty-fourth year, the annual $50,000 award recognizes a Minnesota artist who has made significant contributions to the state's cultural life. Through poems, plays, children's books, and novels, Rendon, an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation, explores the resilience and brilliance of Native peoples. She is the first Native American woman and the second consecutive Native artist to receive the prize, following the selection of painter Jim Denomie in 2019.
Rendon is the author of the award-winning Cash Blackbear mystery series, which is set in Minnesota's Red River Valley. The first novel in the series, Murder on the Red River, earned the 2018 Pinckley Prize for Debut Novel, while the second, Girl Gone Missing, was nominated for the Mystery Writers of America–G. P. Putnam's Son's Sue Grafton Memorial Award. She is also the author of four nonfiction children's books, including Powwow Summer (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013). Rendon's plays include Sweet Revenge, chosen for the Oklahoma Indigenous Theatre Company's 2020 New Native American Play Festival, and she has curated and produced a variety of Native-focused performances at the History Theatre, the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and Patrick's Cabaret. In addition, she is the founder of Raving Native Theater, a platform that brings voice and visibility to other Native American artists and performers.
"Marcie brings a strong and necessary voice to so many genres," said McKnight Foundation interim president Pamela Wheelock. "She has created a tremendous body of work, including poetry, plays, lyrics, and award-winning crime novels, all while raising up other Native voices in our community. Her commitment to making art in community embodies what a distinguished artist means to Minnesota and to McKnight."
(Photo credit: Jaida Grey Eagle)