Southern Prize & State Fellowships


Open to visual artists in South Arts' nine-state region, nine artists will receive a total of $80,000 in awards and be displayed in a touring exhibition.

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Exhibition Now Open

The 2020 Southern Prize and State Fellows Exhibition is now open through January 8, 2021 at the Bo Bartlett Center in Columbus, Georgia.

Schedule a visit to the Exhibition

Meet the 2020 State Fellows

Please join us in congratulating the 2020 South Arts State Fellowship recipients. An exhibition of the 2020 South Arts State Fellowship recipients is now open at the Bo Bartlett Center at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia through January 8, 2021.

Congratulations to 2020 Southern Prize winner Sherrill Roland, finalist Carlton Nell, and all our State Fellowship recipients

Meet the 2020 Southern Prize & State FelloWSHIP RECIPIENTS

Applications Closed

The deadline for this grant program has passed. The guidelines below are for reference only.

Detailed Program Description

The South Arts Southern Prize and State Fellowships acknowledge, support, and celebrate the highest quality artistic work being created in the American South. The program is open to individual artists living in the South Arts region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. South Arts is committed to practices and funding that create greater cultural equity, represent the diversity of our region, are inclusive of diverse voices and artistic expression, and are accessible to everyone. The group of nine State Fellows will be selected by a national jury, and a second national jury will select the Southern Prize Winner and Finalist. Jurors will make their selections based on artistic excellence that reflects and represents the diversity of the region.  This program is open only to visual artists and will expand to other disciplines in the future.

One competition, multiple awards.

South Arts State Fellowships: $5,000

The South Arts State Fellowship is a state-specific prize awarded to the artists whose work reflects the best of the visual arts in the South. A national jury will select one winner per eligible state, for a group of nine State Fellows, based on artistic excellence that reflects and represents the diversity of the region. Each of the nine State Fellowship winners will be awarded a $5,000 South Arts State Fellowship, and will compete for one of the two South Arts Prizes.

South Arts Southern Prize: $25,000 and $10,000

The nine State Fellowship recipients will compete for the South Arts Southern Prize. The $25,000 Southern Prize will be awarded to the artist whose work exhibits the highest artistic excellence, and one finalist will be awarded a $10,000 Prize, also based on artistic excellence. The Southern Prize winner will also receive a two-week residency at The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences. A separate national jury will convene to evaluate the body of work represented by the nine State Fellowship recipients and select the Prize winner and Finalist. Winners of the South Arts Prize will be announced at the awards ceremony.

An exhibition of works by the State Fellowship winners will open at the Bo Bartlett Center in Columbus, Georgia, anticipated in August 2020.

Important Dates & Deadlines

  • Application Deadline: December 3, 2019
  • Fellowship Notifications: January 31, 2020
  • Touring Exhibition Opening, Dates, and Locations: August 18, 2020 - January 8, 2021 (Bo Bartlett Center, Columbus, Georgia). Additional dates/locations TBD.

Eligibility Requirements

The following is a top-level list of the main eligibility requirements necessary to be considered for the Southern Prize and State Fellowships. Please refer to the full list of eligibility requirements in the program's Guidelines.

  • An individual artist, working in one of the following categories:
    • Crafts
    • Drawing
    • Experimental
    • Painting
    • Photography
    • Sculpture
    • Mixed Media
    • Multidisciplinary
  • At least 18 years of age or older
  • Not a full-time high school or undergraduate student
  • A legal resident within South Arts' nine-state service area for at least two years prior to their application
  • Maintain residency in their current state for the duration of their award year

Please note that film, video, and media artists are not eligible to apply at this time. However, work that incorporates elements of film, video, and other media—work that can be reasonably construed to belong to categories like Experimental, Mixed Media, and Multidisciplinary—may be eligible.

A full list of eligibility criteria and other requirements is provided in the guidelines below.

The prize money awarded through South Arts was vital to launching my project. I’m extremely grateful it afforded me the opportunity to be on press and oversee the printing of my book.

Jeremiah Ariaz, 2018 Louisiana State Fellow and Southern Prize Finalist


While preparing your Southern Prize and State Fellowships application, please refer to the following guidelines. 


Applicants to the South Arts State Fellowships program, and by extension the South Arts Southern Prize, must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be an individual artist, creating original works of art.
  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Cannot be a full-time high school or undergraduate student.
  • Be a United States citizen, lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence, or have permission from the Department of Homeland Security to work permanently in the U.S.
  • Have been a legal resident within the nine states served by South Arts where they are seeking a State Fellowship for a period of at least two years immediately before the application deadline.
  • Expect to maintain residency in their current state of residence during the Fellowship award year (May, 2020 – June 30, 2021).
  • Submit a complete and accurate application.

This is the fourth year of the program, and only visual artists are eligible. (Film/video/media art is not eligible in this year. However, if your experimental or mixed media work includes video/film and/or sound, you may apply.)

The following categories describe all of the types of visual arts eligible for this year’s program. We ask you to select the category that best describes the pieces you are submitting. These categorizations are only for South Arts’ internal use; the jurors will not know which category the applicant identified, and there are no limits or quotas for any category. If you wish to submit images of work that does not all fit within one of these categories, please check Multidisciplinary.

Crafts – Craft artists have work made substantially by hand, where the skill and technique for manipulating the material is primary to the artistic process. Materials may include clay, fiber, glass, leather, metal, paper, plastic, wood.

Drawing – Drawing includes works created using the techniques, materials, media, and methods of drawing, printmaking, collage, book arts, or graphic design.

Experimental – Experimental work explores new (non-traditional) ideas and/or technology (see eligibility above if your work incorporates film/video/media).

Painting – Paintings are original works that involve painting of any kind on any surface.

Photography – This category is for artwork in which photographic image is the primary element. This includes traditional photography, as well as works that involve digital or software manipulation of photographs.

Sculpture – Three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining materials such as plastic, wire, sound, text, light, stone, metal, glass, or wood.

Mixed Media – The combination of multiple visual art forms into a single artwork (see eligibility above if your work incorporates film/video/media).

Multidisciplinary – Artists who work in more than one medium.

Artists applying in the visual arts must choose only one of these categories under which they submit their work. Only one application per artist per award period is accepted. Artists who are awarded a South Arts State Fellowship are ineligible to apply for another fellowship for six years. The winner and finalist of the South Arts Prize may not re-apply for a period of 10 years.

A team of two co-creators is eligible. The team members must share equally, and be the sole participants, in the creation of the work (design and execution), and will share the prize equally if they win. Both must have their primary residence in one of South Arts’ member states. One of the artists should be named as the applicant; the nature of the collaboration should be explained in the Description field of at least one of the submitted images; and, if requested by South Arts, copies of both artists’ IDs must be submitted. At this time, no teams larger than two are eligible.

Review Criteria and Process

The group of nine State Fellows will be selected by a national jury, and a second national jury will select the Southern Prize Winner and Finalist. The jurors will make their selections based on artistic excellence that reflects and represents the diversity of the region.

Notification & Award Process

Artists will receive notifications of their award status by January 31, 2020. State Fellowships will be awarded as $5,000 cash prizes, and will be disbursed at the awards ceremony. The awards are non-matching.

The winner and finalist for the South Arts Southern Prize will be selected from the State Fellowship winners by a second panel. The South Arts Southern Prize winners will be announced at the awards ceremony. The South Arts Southern Prize is $25,000, and the finalist prize is $10,000. These amounts are in addition to the State Fellowships that the South Arts Southern Prize winner and finalist will have already received and are non-matching. In total, the South Arts Southern Prize winner and finalist will receive $30,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Expectations of Winners

Publicity and Awards Ceremony

Winners of the South Arts State Fellowships are required to attend the South Arts State Fellowship & Prize awards ceremony, which will take place in May 2020 in Columbus, Georgia to receive their cash prizes. Winners’ travel and accommodations for the awards ceremony will be paid for. One round-trip flight (or rental car coverage) and one hotel room will be provided, booked by South Arts. This offer does not extend to any of the winners’ guests.

The winners of the State Fellowships (and, therefore, the South Arts Southern Prize winner and finalist) will have their work included in an exhibit in Columbus opening in May 2020. The majority of the work represented in the submitted work samples should be available for exhibition, arriving at the exhibit location by March 1, 2020. South Arts will assume the costs of shipping.

Use of Funds

There is no requirement for how Fellowship and Prize winners use their awards. South Arts hopes the money would go towards pursuit of artistic achievement, but winners are not required to submit their use of the funds for approval. The funds are expected to be used between May 18, 2020 and June 30, 2021. State Fellowship and South Arts Southern Prize winners should note that the award money constitutes taxable income, and should file accordingly. Fellowship and Prize winners should expect to write a one-page final report and submit images (if appropriate) on how they used the fellowship winnings.

Expectations of Southern Prize Winners

Publicity and Speaking Engagements

Additional exposure—in the form of speaking engagements, increased publicity, and more opportunities to display work through South Arts—can be reasonably expected by South Arts Prize winners.

Application Requirements

The application to the South Arts State Fellowship competition must contain:

  • Online application
    • A $25 application fee is required (If the application fee creates a barrier, the applicant may request a waiver from South Arts by contacting
  • Beginning September 6, 2019, access the online application through our Slideroom portal. The required material is:
  • Work samples
    • Submit up to 10 high resolution images of your work. Any detail images must be included in that number.
    • Artwork must have been completed between 2017-2019.
    • Video art is not being considered for this year’s Fellowships and Prize; however, if your work includes video or sound, you may include video or sound files within your total of 10 items.
    • You are welcome to include a brief explanation of concept, process, and/or technique for each piece in the ‘Description’ field of each file, but this is not required.
    • An exhibit of the State Fellowship recipients’ work will be held in Columbus, GA, then tour. All or most of the work represented in your work samples must be available for exhibit between February 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
    • Artist statement
    • An artist statement of up to 250 words is required. If you have not yet developed an artist statement, this article may be helpful. . Therefore, your statement may NOT include your name, or the name of your state. If either is mentioned, your application will be disqualified.
  • Documentation and Demographic Information
    • Applications are not anonymous.
    • Professional resumé: This summary should include exhibitions, educational background, arts-related employment, residencies, awards, honors, teaching, publications, and/or other pertinent experience. The resumé can be as brief as one page and up to five pages.
    • Birth year (optional)
    • Gender identity
    • Race/Ethnicity
    • Applicants may be asked to provide proof of, or certify, their residency later in the process, in order to confirm eligibility.


Have a question about the guidelines or priorities above? It may be address in our Southern Prize and State Fellowships FAQ.

Read the FAQ

Sponsors and Supporters

The Southern Prize and State Fellowships is only possible through very generous donations from many individuals, foundations, and organizations.

This year’s program is supported by: Cathy Adams, Alabama State Council on the Arts, Paul Stephen Benjamin, Kathleen Broda, Julia Brown, Joanne Calhoun, Ann and Frank Critz, Robert Paul Dean, Robert Dozier, Ronke Essien, Rick Fisher, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Fran and Arnold Gellman, Georgia Council for the Arts, Sonya Halpern, James Harrison III, K. Clay Haynes, Christian and Catherine Hersacher, David Howell, Kentucky Arts Council, Elliot Knight, Donna Krueger, J. Lett, Louisiana Division of the Arts, CJ Lyons’ Buy a Book, Make a Difference, William McKinney, Mississippi Arts Commission, North Carolina Arts Council, Karen Paty, Marie-Elysse Paulhus, Michael Quinlan and Mollie Quinlan-Hayes, Ben Rex, Scott Shanklin-Peterson and Terry Peterson, Sandy Shaughnessy, Kathy Shea and Phil Carney, South Carolina Arts Commission, Suzette M. Surkamer, Tennessee Arts Commission, and powered by The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences


For further information about the Southern Prize and State Fellowships, contact executive director Susie Surkamer.

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