$80,000 in Awards Distributed to Nine Visual Artists


Atlanta – At an awards ceremony on April 24, 2017, South Arts distributed $80,000 to nine visual artists as the first recipients of their Southern Prize and State Fellowships program. Noelle Mason of Tampa received the Southern Prize award of $25,000 and a two-week residency at The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences as well as the $5,000 South Arts Florida Fellowship. Coulter Fussell of Water Valley, Mississippi was named finalist for the Southern Prize, and received a $10,000 award plus the $5,000 South Arts Mississippi Fellowship. Seven other artists each received State Fellowship awards of $5,000: Pete Schulte of Alabama, Masud Olufani of Georgia, Becky Alley of Kentucky, Joey Slaughter of Louisiana, Stephanie J. Woods of North Carolina, Herb Parker of South Carolina, and Georgann DeMille of Tennessee.

The South Arts Southern Prize and State Fellowships acknowledge, support and celebrate the highest quality artistic work being created in the American South. From January through March 2017, over 850 visual artists submitted work for consideration, and a panel of jurors reviewed each application with the sole criterion of artistic excellence to determine the nine State Fellows. A second panel of jurors reviewed the State Fellows to determine the two Southern Prize awardees.

Mason, an associate professor of sculpture and extended media at the University of South Florida, works in multiple mediums. She manipulates appropriated images, objects, and contexts to investigate and expose the seductiveness of power. Through sculpture, performance and craft, her art examines the way mediation affects our response to traumatic events such as the Rodney King beating, the Columbine shootings, and war.

Fussell is owner of YaloRUN Textiles, a craft store and experimental textile studio in Water Valley, Mississippi. As an artist, she absorbed the process of quilting by watching her mother, a master quilter, who encouraged quilting with freedom and abandon while still paying attention to order of operations and functionality. Fussell earned a BFA from the University of Mississippi and has had her work featured in The New York Times and ART PAPERS.

“We are honored to support each of these artists,” said Susie Surkamer, executive director of South Arts. “From the traditions of quilt-making to astonishing contemporary installations, our Southern Prize and State Fellowship winners represent a diverse roster of talent, background, and style.”

The State Fellowship juror panel included Erin Gilbert, independent curator from Chicago; Mark Scala, Curator with the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville; Lauren Haynes, Curator of Contemporary Art with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR; Jan Davidson, retired director of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC; and Gia Hamilton, director of the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. The Southern Prize panel of jurors included Miranda Lash, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville; Dominique Nahas, independent curator and critic in Brooklyn; and Monica Moses, Editor in Chief of American Craft in Minneapolis.

Visual artists living in South Arts’ nine-state region and producing crafts, drawing, experimental, painting, photography, sculpture, and mixed media work were eligible to apply. The awards were presented to the artists as unrestricted funds.

The Southern Prize and State Fellowships are supported by Alabama State Council on the Arts, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Joanne Calhoun, Citizens for Florida Arts, Inc., Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Cyberwoven, Evans General Contractors, Arnold and Fran Gellman, Georgia Council for the Arts, Les Hamlett, Kentucky Arts Council, J. Martin Lett, Louisiana Division of the Arts, CJ Lyons’ Buy a Book, Make a Difference, MailChimp, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Mississippi Arts Commission, North Carolina Arts Council, Scott and Terry Peterson, Michael Quinlan and Mollie Quinlan-Hayes, South Carolina Arts Commission, Tennessee Arts Commission, Pat and Susie VanHuss, and powered by The Hambidge Center.