17 artists from across the state received the 2016 – 2017 North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award. Artists receive a fellowship to support creative development and the creation of new work. Recipients were selected by panels comprised of artists and arts professionals with expertise in each discipline.
The N.C. Arts Council’s Artist Fellowship program operates on a two-year rotating cycle by discipline. Songwriters, Composers, and Writers are eligible to apply for the Tuesday, November 1, 2016 deadline.
The 2016 – 2017 recipients are:
Jackson Martin (Visual art)
“Over the last ten years, my artwork has evolved into an interdisciplinary approach to sculpture, installation, and photography,” said Jackson Martin. “I combine and intertwine these three media in order to create dynamic experiences for my viewer.”
Martin’s embrace of a broader palette and diverse materials has opened up new possibilities for expression and new ways of observing and commenting on the world around him.
His process involves walks with his camera, which he likens to sketching. His walks often take him “towards environments where nature is reclaiming industry,” not to document decay, but to underscore the resilience of nature. He is also drawn to human-made objects he finds on his way, abandoned and discarded when their initial function is diminished, but resonant with a new vitality when he reworks and combines them into new forms that change or subvert their original meaning. One example is his pallet series, where he steam-bends the planks of the humble support, suspending the newly liberated objects in poses of yearning and flight. These re-contextualized objects give viewers a way of seeing a common form in a different light and help them understand their relationship to the world in unforeseen ways.
Martin received an M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He has had residencies in Denmark and South Korea as well as the Vermont Studio Center. His work has been exhibited widely, including a solo installation at the Penland Gallery. He was a finalist for the prestigious 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art at the Gibbes Museum of Art in 2014. He is currently Assistant Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina – Asheville. For more information about his work visit www.jacksonmartin.com.
Jason Adams (Visual arts)
One of Jason Adams’ favorite quotes is from the artist Chuck Close: “Amateurs wait for inspiration; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
Though still early in his career, Adams has shown that he knows that the work of an artist is represented far better by the hours spent in the studio, thinking and experimenting, than by glib artist statements or slick promotional photos.
Adams also sees his work in the studio as only the beginning of the life of his sculptures and installations. He designs his work as a stage for activity and interaction, where participants create and discover their own meaning within the environments he has imagined. He encourages simple gestures, like leaving paper and pens for hand-written notes that, over the course of an exhibition, help to build a larger story than he started with, both visually and substantively. In this way of working, art is not the end point of his investigations, but rather the vehicle he uses to engage participants in a larger conversation about social issues and ideas.
Adams graduated summa cum laude in 2013 with an M.F.A. from Clemson University. He lives in Asheville. For more information about his work visit http://jasonadamsart.com.
Andrew Hayes (Craft)
Andrew Hayes’ sculptures are improbable objects of beauty, marrying cold steel with near-weightless paper to create seductive new forms that define a transformed materiality.
“Alongside the paper, the steel becomes graceful, its subtle colors and surfaces heightened,” he said, describing his work. “Bound together, the paper and steel become something new and unified. No longer a book on a shelf, but a unique object with its own strength and story.”
Hayes’ work resides comfortably in both the craft and visual arts worlds. Exquisitely produced, they bear the mark of an artist in love with the materials he has chosen and with the act of making. Formally, his sculpture has the spare elegance of mid-century modernism, each one an icon of untold meaning. But as much as his work may recall past styles and forms, it also boldly writes its own history and engages the viewer on its own terms.
Currently a resident artist at the Penland School of Crafts, he has had recent solo exhibitions at the Hunterdon Art Museum (N.J.), Appalachian Craft Center (Tenn.), the Seager Gray Gallery (Calif.), and the National Ornamental Iron Museum (Tenn.) His work is in the collections of the Yale Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. For more information about his work visit http://andrew-hayes.squarespace.com.
Jaydan Moore (Craft)
Jaydan Moore is a miner, but not of the traditional sort. Like his prospecting counterparts he is drawn to the preciousness of metals, though less for their monetary value than for the memories and stories they accrete and carry with them as they pass from hand to hand, from user to user.
“I am motivated by how an object moves through the world, changing in meaning as it is passed down, and how it is cherished as its significance grows,” he said.
In his hands, well-loved, silver-plated platters and teapots are deconstructed and reassembled into altered forms and shapes, shedding their former functions, yet still retaining the marks of their use. Even in parts, their origins are usually recognizable with the residue of their former dignity intact. But they gain a protean quality as they transition to the next stage in their evolution, one that honors their past purpose and history and, at the same time, looks forward to the possibility of something unexpected.
“By fabricating a new form out of many fragments from stylistically and historically related objects, I create a new image of what that object means to our society, a representation that takes all memories of its use into consideration,” he explained.
Moore is a resident artist at the Penland School of Crafts. An M.F.A. graduate of the University of Wisconsin, his work has been exhibited in such venues as Museum of Fine Arts-Houston, Racine Arts Museum, and the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco. He has won several awards, including an American Craft Council Emerging Voices Award in 2015. For more information about his work visit http://jaydanmoore.com.
Shannon Silva (Film/Video)
Shannon Silva’s first encounter with a movie camera was both a revelation and a moment of frustration.
“The first time I saw my uncle’s Army-issued 16mm Bolex camera, I was six years old and, hearing the camera run, it was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. I remember thinking very simply, ‘I want that camera, but I will never own one. It is too expensive… and it’s for boys.’ “
Silva has come a long way since that time. Not only has she succeeded in having the cameras she wants, but she has also been able to bring her creative focus to the lives of girls and women. Her feature-length documentary, It’s a Girl Thing: Tween Queens and the Commodification of Girlhood, treats the challenges that girls face growing up in our American consumerist and celebrity-driven society.
In a new film, Red, she traces the story of her grandmother coming of age in 1940s rural North Carolina. Her commitment to women and film can also be seen in other ways, like the founding of the Wilmington Female Filmmakers Collective, which focuses on empowering women filmmakers through workshops, mentoring, and shared resources.
Silva has been director, producer, or writer on numerous films, which have been screened at the Atlanta, Cucalorus, Black Maria, and many other film festivals. She received the Best Social Documentary Award at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival in 2012. An M.F.A. graduate of the University of Iowa, she is now Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Film Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
For more information, visit her website at http://itsagirlthingmovie.com.
Sheryl Oring (Visual art)
Sheryl Oring is a public artist, in every sense. Her work is activated and shaped through her interactions with people in public settings, giving a voice to the man or woman on the street and documenting their views and reactions in an unfiltered way.
“Citizenship and issues of civic responsibility, on the local and global levels, are interests that I have been exploring in my work for the past several decades,” she said. “I strive to create platforms for discussion and exchange, engaging a diverse public audience as participants.”
Her work often takes the form of performance. One such work is I Wish to Say, a project she began more than ten years ago, in which passers-by are encouraged to write their thoughts to the next President, as dictated to a typist dressed in 1960s-era secretarial attire. Initially, Oring was the lone typist, but the performance has gradually grown to feature an office-size secretarial pool of workers, each gathering the thoughts, hopes, and opinions of people walking by.
As SECCA curator Cora Fisher describes it: “I Wish to Say exercises art’s muscles in the social practice of democracy. In the midst of America’s fractured body politic, the project delivers thoughtful, pluralistic participation. It invites us to talk back to power with the power of the wish, to express our concern.”
Oring has a long history of commissions, exhibitions, and performances, both in the U.S. and abroad, and has won a number of awards, including a Creative Capital Foundation grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For more information about her work visit www.sheryloring.org.
Helen Simoneau (Choreography)
Winston-Salem artist Helen Simoneau sees dance as a way of exploring how individuals interact and relate within a larger group. In her choreography, she plays with proximity, intimacy, and personal space to create tensions that resonate among the performers, and between the stage and audience.
“The work I create is inspired and informed by a fascination with the intricacies of relationships and the vast spectrum of human dynamics,” she said.
Simoneau’s work is typically set on ensembles from as small as three performers to as many as twelve or more. She views her dancers as collaborators in the generation of each piece, taking the original idea and molding it as they work through the movements and gestures into a finished form. She herself participates in this process, frequently dancing in her own solos and duets, which allows her to see the work from the inside. The process is both democratic and physical, producing work that is memorable for its craftsmanship and striking imagery.
“Simoneau codes her choreography like an athlete with a soft exterior, a fist inside a glove,” wrote Martha Sherman in Dance View Times.
Since graduating from Hollins University in 2009 with an M.F.A., Simoneau has enjoyed considerable success. In addition to numerous performances and residencies in the U.S. and abroad, she was one of three winners of the Oregon Ballet Theatre’s North American Search “Choreography XX” and will create a new piece for the company in June 2017. In 2015, she was commissioned by The Julliard School for “New Dances,” a program that was presented at Lincoln Center and the Guggenheim Museum. This is her second N.C. Arts Council Fellowship Award. Her first award came in 2010-2011. For more information about her work visit www.helensimoneau.com.
Robin Gee (Choreography)
Greensboro-based choreographer Robin Gee finds power and inspiration in the living traditions of African dance and music that she weaves into her own work, uncovering rhythms that resonate with contemporary American culture. Through her study and documentation of Africanist aesthetics and performance, she mines cultural practices that have developed over generations within communities. But her own work goes far beyond a simple re-staging of observed choreographic presentations, drawing upon her own personal, cultural, and artistic histories to create work in an American context and situate these traditional forms within the larger and ongoing discourse on race, place, and belonging.
Gee’s research has taken her to Africa many times. In 2012, she won a Fulbright Scholarship to go to Burkina Faso for eight months. Other trips have taken her to Guinea, Senegal, and Mali for teaching and research. Among her many other professional activities and achievements, she was commissioned by the Maimouna Keita Dance Company in 2009 to create a new dance entitled A Walk to Beautiful, which premiered at the Skirball Performing Arts Center in New York the following year.
Gee received her M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and is currently Associate Professor of Dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For more information about her work visit http://greensborodancefilms.org.
Andrea Vail (Visual art)
Andrea Vail has a conflicted relationship with junk. On the one hand, she recognizes its shallow allure and its capacity to proliferate, swamping our best intentions and our lives. On the other hand, she admits, “I’m at odds with how I can’t get enough of it and the overwhelming accumulative space it fills. Things seduce and repel.”
Her artmaking thrives on this tension. She haunts second-hand shops looking for cast-off materials, eager to explore both the artifice and cultural messages they carry with them. Drawn to mass-produced home goods from the last century, now stylistically obsolete by contemporary standards, she incorporates them into sculptures and installations to tell their stories in new ways.
She also exploits these objects’ strange fascination through community events, encouraging participants to contribute their own attic discards to a public art project, and kindling human connections through the recognition of their shared attachments to these cultural artifacts.
Vail is an M.F.A. graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and was awarded a Goodyear Arts residency in 2016. She has exhibited at form & concept (New Mexico), Sediment Gallery (Va.), and LIGHT Art & Design (N.C.), among others. She teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Visit her website at http://andreavail.com.
John W. Love, Jr. (Visual art)
“There is a place for the mercurial, irreverent, poignant, hilarious, and devastating beauty that comes with this thing called my existence. There must be.” With this declaration, we are invited to enter John W. Love, Jr.’s extraordinary world.
As described by Lynn Trenning, “Love is an observer, a chronicler, a wordsmith, and a believer in process.” His work evolves from his awareness of his surroundings and his responses to it.
“It can be a sight, a sound, a vision, something that sparks something; it can be a feeling” Love says. His work emerges through unforgettable characters like The Perpetually Pregnant Man, elaborate costuming that includes black feather kimonos and inline skates, and unusual materials, such as salt, string, and alum crystals that grow to adorn his sculptures and installations. Love’s primary medium is performance and it is his compelling presence and the way he inhabits his characters that make his work memorable.
Love has had many exhibitions and performances, including at the Davidson College Galleries, Mint Museum of Art, and Winthrop University Art Department. He has had residencies at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation and the Anchorage Museum. He received a B.F.A from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. https://www.facebook.com/johnwlovejr.
Stephanie J. Woods (Visual art)
Charlotte resident Stephanie J. Woods is interested in the borderlines between public and private space. Looking at the ways in which we adorn and cover our bodies, what we choose to present and what we choose to hide, she explores both how others see us, and how we see ourselves. She asks, “What are the ways we mask and transform our identities before entering the world each day?”
To describe them, she employs various media as needed, using photography, sculpture, film, collage, and installation interchangeably. Though her work is rooted in African American culture, the questions she asks are universal, urging us to consider how we accept and enforce gender roles, racial signifiers, and beauty standards as social norms.
“My artwork is dictated by my environment. It conforms to the space I am working in and the materials I am able to find or purchase around me.” In her hands though discarded objects, and everyday items like styling gel, beauty magazines, synthetic hair weave, and makeup, are transformed into powerful examinations of race, culture, gender, and identity.
Woods is a 2015 M.F.A. graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She received a Regional Artist Project Grant and a three-week residency to Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency in 2016. She has exhibited her work in both North Carolina and New York, including the Womble Carlyle Gallery in Winston-Salem, the Fields Projects Gallery in Manhattan, and the Southfirst Gallery in Brooklyn. To learn more about her work visit www.stephaniejolisawoods.com.
Thomas Schmidt (Craft)
“I am fascinated by the history of ceramics as a representation of the handmade and how the use of digital methods might challenge this preconception.” With this elegantly simple statement, Charlotte artist Thomas Schmidt summarizes his creative project.
His work both pays homage to traditional methodologies and iconographies and subverts them by introducing technical approaches that distance making from the work of the hand.
Using methods such as mold-making, scanning, and photography, he captures what he calls “material moments” which he then prints, casts, layers, and distorts. The result are objects that carry and obscure the strata of decisions and manipulations that created them, the hidden stories of their production. He sees the tension in his work between the handmade and computer-aided design as part of a larger societal negotiation of boundaries in a world where the dividing lines of the virtual and the real are increasingly blurred.
Schmidt has exhibited at numerous venues in the United States, Europe, and Asia with works in such public collections as Museo Internazionale della Ceramiche in Faenza, Italy; the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art in Sedalia, Mo.; and the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum in Alfred, N.Y. A studio assistant of renowned ceramic sculptor Ruth Duckworth for three years, he received an M.F.A. from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. To learn more about his work visit www.thomasschmidt.org.
Harriet Hoover (Visual art)
Durham artist Harriet Hoover uses ordinary materials of everyday life, such as soap, gum wrappers, and toothpicks, along with family heirlooms that she distorts and manipulates, to create sculptures and performances that explore personal responses to space, place, and memory.
Her process begins with walking, drawing, measuring, and collecting objects, sounds, and oral histories from the sites she chooses, assembling an eclectic store of materials to inform the visual expression of her work. The work itself reflects the diversity of its components, often taking the hybrid form of figure and machine.
In her performances, these qualities are heightened through repetitive gestures and movement, referencing labor, agricultural practices, and other cultural signifiers that describe the social, environmental, and political landscapes of her own history and the communities she has lived in.
Her goal isn’t to advance a particular point of view. “I am not interested in a didactic result or overt political narrative,” she said. “Rather, I create open-ended sculptural work that encourages the viewer to connect with their own experiences and narrative.”
Her work has been featured in Art on Paper at the Weatherspoon Art Museum (2014), the People’s Biennial II at The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2014), and at LIGHT Art + Design in Chapel Hill. She has a B.A. in Textile Technology and Art + Design from N.C. State University and an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She coordinates teen and college programming at the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh. www.harriethoover.com.
Katina Parker (Film/Video)
Katina Parker is a Durham-based filmmaker, photographer, writer, graphic designer, cultural curator, and social media expert, whose work speaks to the potential of technology to spark social change for voices that have traditionally been under-represented in media.
A recent work, Ferguson: A Report from Occupied Territory (2015; Fusion/ABC-Disney), offers a provocative reframing of racial profiling and the over-policing of poor communities for profit. Voices on Ferguson and Police Brutality (2015; Amnesty International) is a 25-part series that Parker produced and directed based upon the testimonies of Ferguson protesters.
A new project, Truth. Be. Told. (2016), is a documentary series about Queer Black Visionaries. Each episode features an intimate conversation with a noteworthy interviewee as they discuss their lives, loves, and personal callings, as well as the experiences, realities, and identities that fuel them. To date, more than 60 people have committed to being interviewed.
In 2017, Parker will begin post-production on SIS, the story of her great grandmother, a larger-than-life presence and significant influence in her own life, using audio interviews and photos gathered over the course of 25 years. She is also directing #BlackLivesMatter, a feature documentary that amplifies the international pushback against discriminatory policing and the over-militarization of police forces.
In addition to her personal projects, she shoots for AJ+, the New York Post, Fusion, and Huffington Post. Previously, Parker taught social media and film through the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University and worked as a creative director in Los Angeles, where her body of work encompassed film and multi-camera TV, graphic and web design, magazine writing, and photography. Her clients included Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Saul Williams, and Cody ChesnuTT. She received her M.F.A. in Film Production from the University of Southern California. You can follow Parker on Instagram: @katinanparker, Twitter and Facebook at @katinaparker
Jina Valentine (Visual art)
Jina Valentine’s work at once invites and defies close reading. Using text as both content and form, she manipulates and obscures the message through cuts, overlays, and acidic ink materials that literally devour the paper on which it’s printed. She entices viewers to contemplate the intricacies of her lace-like drawings and collages, which seem to promise meaning in the accumulation of visual mark-making and clues, but often leaves them yearning for what they can’t see in the spaces and voids.
Recently, Valentine has employed new methods to explore her ideas. “In the past few years, my practice has become more politically engaged, collaborative, experiential, and experimental,” she explained. “It still includes the manipulations of objects, paper, and writing, but it also involves animation, performance, archiving, facilitating public dialogues, imagining new pedagogies, and interdisciplinary collaboration.”
One of these efforts was the Black Lunch Table gatherings she co-organizes with New York-based artist Heather Hart at institutions across the country. Valentine and Hart invite participants to engage in roundtable discussion on a variety of topics, ranging from implicit bias to the authorship of art/history. They also stage Wikipedia edit-a-thons which teach participants to author their own pages, with a focus on adding and improving articles on artists of the African Diaspora.
Valentine graduated with an M.F.A. from Stanford in 2009 and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has had numerous exhibitions and residencies, including at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. This year, the Black Lunch Table project was awarded a Creative Capital Emerging Genres grant and an Institute for Arts & Humanities Fellowship.
Lien Truong (Visual art)
The physical practice of painting connects Lien Truong to practitioners and cultures through time.
“The act of manipulating pigment over a support simultaneously embraces centuries of historical drawing and painting, art made integral with religious principles and cultural ideologies,” she explains. “I am at once undeniably seduced by the sensation and process of pushing material over a surface and at the same time curiously fixated on the present-day relevance and discoveries of these primordial acts.”
As a Vietnamese refugee and U.S. citizen, Truong understands the “increasing complications of social and cultural identity in our eternally migratory world.” Using textiles as her material to reference centuries of colonialism and trade, she updates the 19th century genre of history painting using motifs that borrow from eastern and western traditions. Her work resides in a hybrid space between these worlds, illuminating new ways of conceiving and presenting landscape, architecture, and the figure.
Truong ‘s work has been published in New American Paintings and ARTit Japan and been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, The National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Moscow, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and Galerie Quynh in Ho Chi Minh City, The Oakland Museum of California, among many others. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Find out more about Truong at www.lientruong.com.
John Huneycutt (Visual art)
“My wet-plate photography inspiration was a Michelangelo sketch of the Virgin and Child… Wet-plate shares this ethereal quality, in the simultaneous presence of detail and ambiguity that makes a tintype a representation of what a dream or memory may feel like,” he said.
Huneycutt’s prints share the haunting sense of a past time, something irrevocably lost but preserved miraculously in an image, teasing the viewer with forgotten or half-remembered narratives.
He has had success as a commercial photographer, but he found himself wanting more than works-for-hire could provide both in terms of process and subject matter. The challenges and potential he found in wet-plate lay “in the necessity to be artist and technician, giving equality to composition and craftsmanship,” he says. But perhaps the most exciting quality of the medium he discovered was the element of chance: “Despite my best technique, unpredictable, fortuitous idiosyncrasies can appear in wet plate’s unscripted nature.”
This vagary in the process has given Huneycutt an openness to imperfection and showed him the gateway to a new aesthetic for his work.
Huneycutt has won the Director’s Choice Award at OPEN: 2015 International Photography Exhibition at Amblewood Gallery in Georgia and Best of Show at the Charlotte Fine Art Gallery’s juried annual exhibition, Wildlife: The Beauty, the Beast. He received a B.F.A. from Wingate University. For more information about his work visit www.johnhuneycuttfineart.com.
To learn more about the North Carolina Arts Council and the Artist Fellowship program visit www.ncarts.org/grants/grants-artists/artist-fellowships.