2023 South Carolina Fellow and Southern Prize for Visual Arts Finalist
Southern Prize Finalist
Drayton, South Carolina
Year of Award
Grant or Fellowship
Southern Prize and State Fellowship
Michael Webster is an artist who focuses on the social organization of space through site-specific projects, sculpture, and installation. His work is context-driven and materially attuned, investigating the effects of power on social geography with a focus on long-term participatory projects rooted in the southern United States. Additionally, he has completed projects in Chicago, Ill., Moorestown, N.J., and Talca, Chile, and has participated in residencies at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, Elsewhere Living Museum, and Penland School of Craft.
Michael's exhibitions include 701 Center for Contemporary Art, Locust Projects, Wiregrass Museum of Art, Tiger Strikes Asteroid Greenville, and Western Carolina University. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from East Carolina University and a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he participated in the GFRY interdisciplinary design studio. Currently, he is an assistant professor at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carlina.
Through projects that span sculpture, archives, and cartographic impulses, I respond to the becomings and undoings of space. Maps present the false illusion of a static world entombed by the grid, a conception of space as mathematical. Instead, my work begins with a social conception of space, where shifting territorial boundaries form strata between people. I seek moments where boundaries become permeable: a place where architecture dissolves into raw matter or the surveyor’s tools encode a digital artifact. By finding residues where systems are revealed, I question the processes of demarcation and displacement which inscribe sites of contention on the land.
My practice is responsive at its core. Rather than invent new images, I recontextualize things already in circulation or develop site-specific, participatory projects. Sometimes I will live with an object for a decade before I can meet it on its own terms. This responsiveness acknowledges social and material agency outside of myself and ultimately makes my practice a symbiotic one. Other people and other things offer many insights about living in fractured geographies. Their faint echoes reverberate through every space, carrying layered histories to anyone willing to listen. I work in the amplification of echoes.