DOTHAN, Alabama — July 14, 2020 — The Wiregrass Museum of Art announces the opening of the virtual exhibition, “B20: Wiregrass Biennial” on July 16 at wiregrassbiennial.com/. WMA’s biennial showcases the South’s most talented contemporary artists, illustrating the region’s rich cultural heritage. The juried exhibition encourages innovative and progressive work that utilizes a variety of art forms and media, including paintings, sculptures, mixed media, new media, and installation art. Three jurors chose from a field of over 130 entries for this year’s exhibition — the first virtual exhibition ever for WMA — which will feature 39 artists from 11 states.
Participating artists are Jonathan Adams (Bristol, Va.), Katie Mae Adams (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), Carrie Ann Baade (Havana, Fla.), Matthew N. Barton (New Orleans, La.), Kelly Shannon Boehmer (Pooler, Ga.), Tra Bouscaren (Tallahassee, Fla.), Kimberley A. Brown (Huntsville, Ala.), Sarah Bryant (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), Jessica Caldas (High Springs, Fla.), Heidi Carlsen-Rogers (Bella Vista, Ark.), Namwon Choi (Savannah, Ga.), Yvette L. Cummings (Conway, S.C.), Brooks Dierdorff (Orlando, Fla.), Lauren Frances Evans (Birmingham, Ala.), Maggie Evans (Savannah, Ga.), MaDora Frey (Atlanta, Ga.), Lilian Garcia-Roig (Tallahassee, Fla.), Leah Hamel (Hoover, Ala.), Joshua Hoggle (Birmingham, Ala.), Bryce Lafferty (Jacksonville, Ala.), Jasper Lee (Birmingham, Ala.), Tara Stallworth Lee (Birmingham, Ala.), S.A. Maples (Vinemont, Ala.), Mär Martinez (Orlando, Fla.), Chieko M. Murasugi (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Jared Ragland and Cary Norton (Birmingham, Ala.), Lauren O’Connor-Korb (Athens, Ga.), Duane Paxson (Comer, Ga.), Sarah Jane Philips (Huntsville, Ala.), Chiharu Roach (Birmingham, Ala.), Victoria Sauer (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Benjamin J. Shamback (Mobile, Ala.), Martha Underriner (DeLand, Fla.), Andrea Vail (Sugar Grove, N.C.), Kevin Vanek (Hattiesburg, Miss,), Kami Watson (New Market, Ala.), Gaby Wolodarski (Montevallo, Ala.), and April Wright (Lexington, Ky.).
“The biennial exhibition is an important venue to showcase the incredible work being made in the South. I always enjoy being introduced to new artists and providing a platform for the artists to connect with each other. What makes this exhibition unique is that it serves as a visual representation of the diverse stories that exist across our region and an opportunity to learn from the experiences and stories that our artists are sharing,” said WMA Executive Director and Curator Dana-Marie Lemmer.
WMA made the decision to hold the exhibition online due to the ongoing need for physical distancing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists would normally travel from around the Southeast to deliver and install their work, attend the traditional exhibition opening, and hold in-person artist talks and workshops. This year’s online biennial will give the public new ways to engage with artists, with plans for virtual artist talks, online workshops, virtual studio tours, artist conversations, and social media takeovers. All programming will be archived on the website alongside the virtual exhibition.
Rather than postponing or cancelling B20, WMA made the decision to hold the exhibition in a new format, recognizing the benefit of providing exposure for participating artists, especially those who may be at the beginning of their careers. This platform to introduce their work to new audiences is especially important now as exhibitions and gallery shows around the U.S. have been cancelled.
“Although a virtual exhibition can’t replace the experience of seeing this work in person, we’re looking forward to expanding our audience via digital platforms this year. More people will be introduced to participating artists and their work through the virtual exhibition, as well as new programming initiatives that will connect artists directly with the public,” said Lemmer.
Through grant funding from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, WMA was able to waive the application fees for B20, making it more accessible to all artists across the region. WMA also established a new exhibition prize, the Alabama Award, which will award $1,000 to an Alabama artist in the show. B20 artists will also be eligible for the Judge’s Award and People’s Choice Award, worth $1,000 each. The awards are intended to give artists funding to continue to develop new work and support their studio practice.
“The Alabama State Council on the Arts is proud to support ‘B20: Wiregrass Biennial’ and is particularly pleased with the establishment of the Alabama Award. The creation of the award furthers the Council’s goals of supporting excellence and professionalism in the arts and supports economic vitality in communities through the arts. The Council on the Arts staff, especially, is excited to see the continued investment in Alabama artists that the Wiregrass Museum of Art is making now and will make for years to come,” said Amy Jenkins, ASCA’s visual art program manager and gallery director.
The winners of the Alabama and Judge’s awards will be selected by B20 judge Jackie Clay, the executive director at the Coleman Center for the Arts, a contemporary art space in York, Alabama. The People’s Choice Award will be decided by online voting from the public. In addition to the $1,000 prize for the work that receives the most votes, second and third place prizes of $500 each have been added this year to provide additional financial support to artists during these challenging economic times.