DOTHAN, Alabama — September 30, 2020 — The Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA) has named six artists to receive awards for work included in the exhibition “B20: Wiregrass Biennial,” the museum’s first virtual exhibition. The Judge’s Prize will be given to Lauren O’Connor-Korb (Athens, Georgia) for her sculpture “The Soloist,” and the Alabama Prize will go to Jasper Lee (Birmingham, Alabama) for his video “Land Rearranged.” The People’s Choice Award will be presented to Lilian Garcia-Roig (Tallahassee, Florida) for her painting “Cumulative Nature: North Florida Palm Brush.” Two People’s Choice runners-up, Kelly Boehmer (Pooler, Georgia) and Leah Hamel (Hoover, Alabama) have been recognized for their works “Gut Lesson” and “Awash in Your Shelter,” respectively.
“We present the Wiregrass Biennial every two years to highlight the talented artists that live and work across the Southeast. And I think that the exhibition came at a time this year when we all craved connections with each other and with the beauty of art. But more than that, the Biennial provides a platform for artists from diverse backgrounds to come together to tell the complex story of the South. It’s because of this that members of our community can always find a work of art, or an artist, that resonates with them,” said Dana-Marie Lemmer, WMA’s executive director and curator.
The Judge’s Prize and Alabama Prize winners were chosen by Jackie Clay, executive director of the Coleman Center for the Arts, a contemporary art space in York, Alabama. Clay chose the winners from a field of 39 artists representing 11 southeastern states. The Judge’s Prize is awarded to the artist the judge selects as having the best overall work in the show; the Alabama Prize, a new award in 2020, designates the Alabama artist with the best work in the exhibition.
“’B20: Wiregrass Biennial’ marks the gathering of really exceptional work during uncommon times. Work that was likely created, completed, or submitted preceding our current uncertainty, uprising, and coming together. And just as our commitments to vacation or belief in systems have shifted, reshaped and shifted again, the works of Jasper Lee and Lauren O’Connor-Korb – beautifully executed and complex in meaning – can also be read as particularly resonate in our mutable now,” said Clay.
“’The Soloist’ was my way of thinking about what it means to be human in a world that seems to be getting increasingly inhuman or perhaps just inhumane. It’s a sentiment I have been reflecting on quite a bit in the last six months as I try to reconcile what it means to be an artist and educator in 2020. The WMA’s support of the arts and artists feels especially meaningful in this moment, and I feel incredibly humbled to receive the Judge’s prize and have my work be featured alongside so many other talented Southern artists,” said O’Connor-Korb.
“I am extremely honored for my work to be in the Wiregrass Biennial and on top of that to have been awarded the Alabama Prize, something I didn’t even know was a thing. In my art and life I strive to engage with the ideas, mediums, people and situations happening right now, in our time. I hope that this comes across in what I do. Receiving acknowledgement such as this prize helps me to continue in this work and lifts up the role of art in the culture of Alabama,” said Lee.
Garcia-Roig will receive a $1,000 award, and both Boehmer and Hamel will receive $500.
“B20: Wiregrass Biennial” (July 16-September 26, 2020) presented works from 39 of the most engaging contemporary artists living and working in the Southeast today. With support from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, WMA was able to waive all application fees for artists. This resulted in a record number of responses to the exhibition’s call for artists and encouraged the submission of work from artists of diverse backgrounds with unique stories to tell. The 38 pieces making up “B20” were selected by three jurors — Angie L. Barry, the curator exhibitions and collections at the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum in Quincy, Florida; Mario Gallardo, the founder and executive director of the Walnut Gallery, a contemporary art gallery, in Gadsden, Alabama; and Dave Brown, partner at PushCrankPress, a full-service advertising agency in Dothan, Alabama.
The exhibition’s website, wiregrassbiennial.com, will remain as an archive, featuring all of the works in the show and including links to interviews with B20 artists, social media takeovers by several of the artists, and art activities based on works in the show.
“While we would have preferred to present this collection of work in person this year, I was amazed at the level of engagement we saw via a virtual platform. Each of our exhibiting artists were generous with their time, and participated in written interviews, virtual talks and workshops, and social media takeovers. I also witnessed the connection that many artists made with each other, by promoting each other’s work and the ideas and stories they share through their art, and with the public, who had an opportunity to interact with the artists directly on our social media platforms,” said Lemmer.
Featured artists in “B20: Wiregrass Biennial” included 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.).
Additional exhibition images available upon request.
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.