April 12, 2017 Repository 203: Scented Writing Award | Because the Art of Smell Belongs at the Fine Art Table Posted In: art practice, bon mots, community, contemporary art, culture, olfactory art, perspective

perfumed plume winner

I’m excited to share that I was awarded a 2017 Perfumed Plume Award last week in NYC, among many talented writers. I attended the event*, not thinking I would receive an award, and mostly curious about the good work and dedication these writers are doing regarding fragrance. And of course hoping to meet more people in the industry to understand a little more about the visions and goals of the publications and supporters of this independent writing prize. There were 10 total finalists, and I was the only one coming to the dialog with a fine art lens.

I was caught unaware when they announced the essay I had written was chosen as the winner. In fact, I had nothing prepared to say – others graciously accepted their awards with kind and eloquent words. I was thrilled and knowing no one in the room, I simply shared my biggest thanks to the organizers, sponsors and judges and not so eloquently shared my honest hope for a stronger dialog between the mediums of scent and the fine arts. Both fine art and scent are similar in many ways – one holds court in “perfume” where it is portrayed as elusive, mysterious and exclusive (and expensive!). Similarly the other holds court in “galleries” equally elusive, mysterious and exclusive (and expensive!). Both scenarios need a breaking down of stereotypes, and new bodies of symbolism that relate completely to everyone – art has almost nothing to do with what is in galleries exclusively and fragrance should not be relegated to the confines of perfume.

The only way to create a new perspective and broader dialog for the two is to create a new system of language for the discussion of art and olfaction. We need to become aware of our limitations from a Western perspective, from a gendered perspective and from a craft versus fine art perspective. It was in this light that I wrote the essay, and that I will continue to write about this breaking down of the divisions of sensorium. Sight (visual art) and hearing have been regaled as the most important sense since the enlightenment – scent has always been considered more commonplace, sitting at the table with touch and taste. It’s time there is a balancing, where scent is given it’s due as a major vehicle that transmits cultural values just as much as visual art or music. As an artist I know that putting scent as a primary focus of my practice for the last several years, many of the other aspects of my work and life have become far more rich and nuanced as a result.

I’m so grateful there are organizations such as Perfumed Plume supporting writers moving onto these wild tangents and unexplored territories. Thank you so very, very much!!

perfumed plume picture

*More info of the event from third party:

“It was standing room only at the 2nd Perfumed Plume Awards as six winners whose prolific skills in creative fragrance journalism were recognized and rewarded their prize of $1,000.00 and an elegant Cross pen.

The lively awards party, held at one of New York’s hidden art gems, the Society of Illustrators, was buzzing with anticipation and conversation flowing between guests: iconoclasts, cross-generational fragrance innovators, game-changers, free spirits, influencers, industry notables and luminaries from the world of media, fragrance, art and design.

The awards were established in 2015 by Mary Ellen Lapsansky and Lyn Leigh, both experienced fragrance and cosmetic executives, to honor and recognize fragrance stories and the many talented writers and visualists who give the reader an inside view of the cultural, historical, scientific and personal approaches to fragrance design and what it takes to create an evocative scent.

Westley Morris, Senior Vice president- Fine Fragrance at MANE commented “as the Founding Sponsor, we couldn’t be happier to see the Perfumed Plume Awards gain recognition as a ‘must win’ award. In only its 2nd year, they have made a huge impact.”

“We were enthused to receive a substantial increase in submissions this year from the global community, which means that the Perfumed Plume Awards is building momentum and becoming recognized as an annual, iconic symbol of media excellence. And this is what we set out to do!”   Said Mary Ellen Lapsansky

Lyn Leigh noted “ we exist to honor the writers and artists across the media spectrum that have so brilliantly brought to the page the story of fragrance in all its magic and mystery”.

2017 Winners

Scent Stories in Mainstream Media- Digital (Magazines, Blog Postings, Webzines)

Winner: Temporary Art Review – Primal Art: Notes on the Medium of Scent – Catherine Haley Epstein

Scent Stories in Mainstream Media – Magazines (print & digital)

Winner: ELLE Magazine – Chemical Attraction- April Long

Scent Stories in Mainstream Media – Newspapers (print & digital)

Winner: The New York Times – We’re Animals, After All Rachel Syme

Science of Scent’ Stories in Mainstream Media – Magazines/ Newspapers/Digital

Winner: Basenotes – Scenting My Mental Illness – Laurin Taylor

Visualization of Scent Stories – Magazines/Newspapers/Digital

Winner: SCENTURY – Autumn Escentials 2016 – Roberto Greco

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  1. Leon III Trice • April 13, 2017


    Really fascinating, who would have thought or smelled? Your essay is quite thought provoking and I love the thought of a new language for this art form. And a Cross pen to boot, congrats! Reply

    • Catherine Haley Epstein • May 31, 2017

      Many, many thanks Leon!! I hope to share more of the work I am doing in person, scent as a medium has a magical way of opening doors. Thank you for reading! Reply

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