WMA announces ‘B18: Wiregrass Biennial’ award winners

The Wiregrass Museum of Art is pleased to announce two exhibition award winners for the recently closed B18: Wiregrass Biennial. The Judge’s Prize will be given to Elysia Mann for her weaving, Reading Narcissus; and the People’s Choice Award goes to Chiharu Roach for her painting, My American Ears.

The Judge’s Prize winner was chosen by Douglas Pierre Baulos, a Birmingham, Alabama-based artist and an assistant professor of drawing and bookmaking at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“The act of reading is both mental and physical. Like a mirror, language offers an illusion of solidity. It reflects an image of the self. In this piece, text appears in rippling abstraction: highlighter yellow and stripes of black redaction. A watery silhouette emerges,” said Elysia Mann of her work.

“When I read, I drink the words. They move from the page and join with my body, settling in my skin or the spaces between my vertebrae. When I read, I am looking at strings of language. I am looking inward, for a place to store the story. My self dissolves, reforms. I drink the words, no longer quite mortal.

It was an honor to be included in the Wiregrass Biennial at all, so to have my work selected for an award is especially thrilling. This recognition bolsters the energy and excitement I feel when I’m working in the studio, and I’m incredibly grateful for the encouragement. My sincerest thanks to the Wiregrass Museum and B18 juror Doug Baulos,” said Mann.

Elysia Mann – Tallahassee, Florida
Reading Narcissus, 2017
Yarn-dyed weaving, cotton and Tencel

The People’s Choice Award was decided by an open voting system, giving visitors to the exhibition from its opening on July 19 to September 29 a chance to cast a vote for their favorite piece.

“I was so touched to receive this award. Growing up, Mickey Mouse represented America to me. The painting illustrates my frustration with the gap between me and my understanding of the English language, American culture and history. No matter how long I live here I am still so Japanese. My Mickey Mouse ears will always be ‘fake’ – not the real thing. Being chosen for this award makes me feel that I am accepted in spite of my differences. Thank you so much for this honor,” said Chicharu Roach.

Chiharu Roach – Birmingham, Alabama
My American Ears, 2017
Acrylic on wood panel

Both Mann and Roach will receive a $1,000 award to use in their studio practice.

B18: Wiregrass Biennial presented works from 41 of the most talented and engaging contemporary artists living and working in the Southeast. The 47 pieces making up the exhibition were selected by two jurors — Elizabet Elliott, Curator of Programs at the Mobile Museum of Art, and Jackie Clay, Director of the Coleman Center for the Arts in York, Alabama. The exhibiting artists were from eight southeastern states, the most diverse geographic representation to date for a biennial at WMA.

“The Biennial is critical in elevating the museum’s role on a regional scale, and allows us to recognize the superior work being produced by artists in the South. The exhibition also serves as an opportunity to expand the Southern vernacular as it relates to contemporary practice, and is a platform that connects many of these artists to each other for the first time,” said Dana-Marie Lemmer, the director and curator of the Wiregrass Museum of Art.

Featured artists in B18: Wiregrass Biennial included Alex McClurg (Ala.), Alex McKenzie (Tenn.), Amanda Morgado (Ala,), Amelia Briggs (Tenn.), Amelia Key (Miss.), Amy Fleming (Fla.), Anne Herbert (Ala.), Austin Wieland (Ga.), Barbara Balzer (Fla.), Brian Edmonds (Ala.), Chiharu Roach (Ala.), Chintia Kirana (Ala.), Dale Lewis ((Ala.), Donald Keefe (Tenn.), Elysia Mann (Fla.), Emily Stroud (Ala.), Frederic Lecut (Ala.), Hank Gray (Tenn.), J. Bradley Adams (Ga.), Jacob Phillips (Ala.), Jared Ragland and Cary Norton (Ala.), Jodi Hays (Tenn.), Kathryn Jill Johnson (Ala.), Katie Baldwin (Ala.), Katie Hargrave (Tenn.), Keith Crowley (Fla.), M.E. Gover (Ala.), Maggie King (Ala.), Maria Theresa Barbist (Fla.), Meredith Knight (Fla.), Michael Webster (S.C.), Rachel Ann Wakefield (Ala.), Randy Gachet (Ala.), Randy Shoults (Ala.), Shawne Major (La.), Suzanne Dittenber (N.C.), Tom Wegrzynowski (Ala.), Tracie Noles-Ross (Ala.), Vivian Liddell (Ga.), and Wanda Sullivan (Ala.)


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Outside of tours, family days, and open house events, individuals who are not enrolled in a class are not allowed in WMA classrooms except by written permission of the Executive Director. Parents may not join children in the classroom during instruction times in order to ensure an atmosphere conductive to creativity. It is important to limit the number of adults to keep the focus on the kids, their learning, and to accommodate limited seating in the studio. Parents are welcome to stay in the museum during class but must remain outside of the classroom during instruction time.

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The Wiregrass Museum of Art reserves the right to photograph and reproduce chosen works publication, publicity, and educational purposes. Participation in this exhibition shall be an agreement on the part of the artist to these conditions. The museum reserves the right to exclude works submitted without appropriate preparation (documentation, mounting hardware, suitable frame/mat, etc.), or which are damaged or incomplete. The museum is not responsible for the safekeeping of any works left in its care ninety (90) days after the close of the exhibition.

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