DOTHAN, Alabama – September 24, 2019 – The Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA) is pleased to announce that the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) has awarded the museum a combined grant in the amount of $10,000 for an upcoming exhibition and an annual youth education program. The award designates $3,800 for a 2020 exhibition by Enterprise, Alabama-based artist Jenny Fine, and $6,200 for the 2020 Out of the (Art) Box installation competition for high school students, held annually in late February at WMA as part of the observation of Youth Art Month.
Jenny Fine has exhibited work at WMA twice before, with “Flat Granny and Me: A Procession in My Mind” in 2015, including a float in the 2014 National Peanut Parade based on the exhibition, and 2017’s live performance, “In Unison,” during which she took photographs and video footage for a later exhibition at the Mobile Museum of Art.
Fine’s 2020 exhibition, tentatively titled “When We Were Synchronized Swimmers,” is being commissioned by WMA and will build on her previous work. The artist will create a multimedia, immersive installation and performance that will transport viewers to the ocean floor of the Gulf of Mexico and other Southern waterways, while encountering an array of anthropomorphized sea life.
The artist’s exhibition will be an evolution of her earlier projects, the next chapter in an ongoing narrative journey about place, culture, and ownership. Originating from family narratives of her childhood, “When We Were Synchronized Swimmers” will be a departure from the personal and dive into the regional, in an exploration of the culture and identity of the place she calls home. Fine will explore land and water as major influences in the region, and is interested in dissecting Southern culture to more fully understand the complex identity of lower Alabama.
“Jenny Fine is a long-time friend of ASCA, as both a former recipient of an ASCA individual artist fellowship and as an artist who has displayed work in the Georgine Clark Alabama Artist Gallery numerous times. ASCA is hopeful that Fine’s storytelling and unique visual landscape will captivate audiences, highlighting Alabama’s artistic talent and rich cultural heritage,” said Amy Williamson, the Council’s visual arts program manager and gallery director.
ASCA awards grants annually to non-profit organizations, schools, and other community groups for a variety of projects. Funds are matched by contributions from businesses, individuals, local government and earned income by the organizations receiving the grants. According to the official grant announcement, “arts programs, assisted by Council grants, have a track record of contributing to community development, education, cultural tourism and overall quality of life in virtually all regions of the state.”
“WMA provides opportunities for working artists to build new skills, connect with new audiences, and produce new work. This includes providing space for artists to exhibit their art, experiment and explore new ideas, and to work directly with our students and visitors. ASCA’s continued support of museum programs allows us to explore contemporary studio practices and to produce innovative educational programs, with artists at the core,” said Dana-Marie Lemmer, WMA’s executive director and curator.
The Out of the (Art) Box competition invites teams of students from Wiregrass area high schools to create a unique, site-specific installation with limited supplies. Each team of four to six students must use their creative and critical-thinking skills to create an installation work, based on a theme given to them on the first day of competition. The students are paired with professional-artist mentors who assist in the planning process for the installation, as well as consult on construction logistics.
Many of the students participating in the program are from schools with no formal art program. It is a chance for them not only to gain first-hand experience working with a professional artist but also to have the opportunity to further develop the effective communication, time-management, and analytical skills required to work in a group setting.
“ASCA hopes that the continued engagement of students from the Wiregrass and beyond will build networks and provide mentoring opportunities for its participants. While several of the participants come from areas with limited arts education, this program links students to resources outside of the classroom to demonstrate the livability of a career in the arts. These tenants align closely with ASCA’s goals and mission, and ASCA staff anticipate seeing these young artists continuing to thrive in the future,” said Williamson.
A portion of the funds from the grant will be used to pay stipends for up to six professional artist mentors who will travel to WMA in late February to work with the Art Box students.
“Artists provide unique insights and strategies to our educational mission and partner with WMA through several program areas each year. It is important that the museum continue to be good stewards of our artist relationships by supporting their work, creatively and financially,” said Lemmer.
The Out of the (Art) Box competition will occur February 28-29, 2020 in the museum’s galleries before the opening of WMA’s annual Youth Art Month exhibition on March 3. Art Box installations will remain on view through March 28.
About the Wiregrass Museum of Art
The Wiregrass Museum of Art inspires a lifelong appreciation for the visual arts by providing innovative educational programs that engage diverse audiences through the collection and exhibition of quality works. Since its founding in 1988, WMA has offered educational programs, nationally-acclaimed art exhibitions and community events throughout the year. Its Board of Trustees guides the long-term vision and strategic goals, while its membership, City and County support, and grant funding provide the resources needed to fulfill its mission.
WMA’s galleries are open to the public every Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. General admission is always free. Private tours with guided art activities in the studio can be arranged by appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays. For tour information, visit wiregrassmuseum.org/museum-tours.
About the Alabama State Council on the Arts
The mission of the Alabama State Council on the Arts is to enhance the quality of life and economic vitality for all Alabamians by providing support for the state’s diverse and rich artistic resources.
The Alabama State Council on the Arts is the official state arts agency of Alabama. The staff of the Council, directed by Elliot Knight, administers the grants programs and provides financial assistance in arts planning and programming. The Council receives its support through an annual appropriation from the Alabama Legislature and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
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