DOTHAN, Alabama – December 17, 2019 – The Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA) is pleased to announce it has been awarded two grants totaling $11,200 from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Two equal awards of $5,600 will be used to support WMA’s public art programming and new artist residencies in 2020, as well as B20: Wiregrass Biennial, a juried exhibition held every two years that showcases work from some of the Southeast’s most talented and innovative contemporary artists.
“ASCA chooses to support this round of projects because both the B20: Wiregrass Biennial and public art and artist residencies programs demonstrate a commitment to fostering excellence and professionalism in regional artists, providing access to the arts for Alabamians of all experiences, and shaping the community by including art and artists to revitalize public spaces,” said Amy Jenkins, the Council’s visual arts program manager and gallery director.
“The Council on the Arts is proud that these shared goals are tirelessly championed by the Wiregrass Museum of Art, and looks forward to seeing the continued impact of the arts in the Wiregrass region through these two projects,” said Ms. Jenkins.
WMA’s biennial exhibition will once again invite contemporary artists from around the Southeast to submit work to a juried exhibition. WMA has used its biennial to strengthen the arts community in the Southeast by introducing regional artists to new audiences and providing springboard opportunities for emerging artists to create new solo and group exhibitions at the museum. The museum’s most recent biennial exhibition, B18: Wiregrass Biennial, included 41 artists from eight states, with 53% hailing from Alabama.
WMA will use part of the ASCA grant award designated for B20 to eliminate the previously required submission fee for artists, expanding the reach of the exhibition across the region and increasing access for interested artists. The museum will also use grant funds to award three crash prizes for select artists in the exhibition: a Judge’s Choice award; a People’s Choice award, selected by the popular vote of visitors to the museum; and a new Alabama Artist prize, which will be used to recognize outstanding work by an artist from the state. Each award will be $1,000 and can be used by the artist to advance their studio practice.
“It’s important that we continue to address barriers to access at the museum, whether that is for members of our community or the artists we work with. By eliminating the submission fee for B20 we expect to engage with even more artists across the Southeast, offering an opportunity to exhibit their work and to connect with our visitors,” said Dana-Marie Lemmer, director and curator of WMA.
A call-to-artists for B20: Wiregrass Biennial will be issued in early 2020, and works will be selected by a jury comprised of members of the regional arts community to include artists, art administrators, curators, or educators. Public programming for the exhibition will include artist talks, artist workshops, and performances from artists, creating opportunities for Wiregrass residents to have in-person experiences and hands-on learning with exhibiting artists, expanding the public’s understanding of the role of artists in the region.The exhibition will open on July 16, 2020, and will run through September 26.
In 2020, WMA will also provide artists with the resources and freedom to experiment and pursue ideas for the creation of new work for public spaces and alongside the community, increasing the overall visibility of the visual arts in the Wiregrass and growing the general public’s understanding of the social importance and impact of the arts. WMA will work with artists Sydney Foster, Lily Reeves, and Porter Grubbs in the new year. The artists plan to engage local audiences through diverse projects that explore different social issues.
“The museum has been experimenting with a number of non-traditional programs such as artist residencies and public art over the past several years. We often support artists in the creation of new work for exhibitions and projects inside the walls of the museum and are expanding this idea to activate the public space. Art often crosscuts critical social issues, and our resident artists in 2020 will develop work alongside community members,” said Lemmer.
Foster, a Montgomery, Alabama-based photographer, exhibited her work in a solo exhibition at WMA in 2019 titled Walks in the South, and is interested in returning to Dothan to capture the unique and often overlooked stories of the Wiregrass. Reeves, who lives and works in Birmingham, Alabama, will launch Spirit Kin, a series of large-scale, neon installations in various locations throughout Dothan, exploring Alabama’s ecology and highlighting the rapid loss of biodiversity in Alabama and the Gulf of Mexico. Grubbs, originally from Dothan and now living in Atlanta, will present a site-specific installation and performance piece alongside Georgia-based The Mediums Collective, which he founded, as an extension of WMA’s B20: Wiregrass Biennial exhibition. He will also host a workshop that will be open to the public.
About the Wiregrass Museum of Art
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 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.