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Gibbes Museum of Art Announces Short List of Finalists for the Factor Prize

Six Artists Vie for the Second Annual Elizabeth and Mallory Factor Prize for Southern Art

(March 18, 2009 - Charleston, SC) – The Gibbes Museum of Art today announced the Short List of Finalists for the 2009 Factor Prize. The Factor Prize acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. The winner of the 2008 Factor Prize was photographer Jeff Whetstone of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Whetstone served as a judge for the 2009 prize.

Artists who work in or who are from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Virginia were nominated for the Prize online at through February 1, 2009. In March, seven panelists reviewed the hundreds of applicants and narrowed the list to six artists. The seven panelists for the 2009 Factor Prize were philanthropists Elizabeth and Mallory Factor who established the prize; Julian Cox, Curator of Photography at the High Museum of Art; Walter Edgar, The Claude Henry Neuffer Professor of Southern Studies, the George Washington Distinguished Professor of History and the Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of South Carolina; Ron Platt, the Hugh Kaul Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Pam Wall, Associate Curator of Exhibitions and Interpretation at the Gibbes Museum of Art; and the 2008 winner Jeff Whetstone.

The six artists (profiled below) selected for the 2009 Factor Prize Short List are Lonnie Holley, Stephen Marc, Ross McElwee, Kathryn Refi, Edward Rice and Mike Smith. “We’re delighted with the variety of artists who entered the contest this year. The finalists represent a wide array of styles, subjects and approaches. Through the Factor Prize, the Gibbes continues its legacy of supporting working artists while honoring the talents of artists working in and from the South,” said Angela Mack, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Gibbes.

The winner of the 2009 Factor Prize will be announced on May 4 at a ceremony at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. Nominations for the 2010 award have already started on the website. The Factor Prize website not only serves as a nomination point for artists but it is also an archive of information about Southern artists that can be used by curators, collectors, academicians and the public.

Lonnie Holley
Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1950, Holley is a self-taught artist who first began making art by carving sandstone with kitchen utensils. In addition to sandstone sculpture, he creates found object assemblages and acrylic paintings with intensely personal meanings. Holley’s work is included in the collections of the Birmingham Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Stephen Marc
Marc is a photographer who creates digitally-manipulated montages that explore his Southern roots and interpret American history focused on the black experience. His work combines contemporary images with those of historic documents and artifacts to create narratives that reconfigure time and space. Marc resides in Tempe, Arizona, where he is a Professor of Art at Arizona State University.

Ross McElwee
A filmmaker from Charlotte, North Carolina, McElwee has made seven feature-length documentaries and several shorter films. His work includes Bright Leaves, Six O’Clock News and Sherman’s March, which won best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 1987. McElwee teaches filmmaking at Harvard University where he is a professor in the department of Visual and Environmental Studies.

Kathryn Refi
Refi is a conceptual artist who collects data from daily life as a means to study the world in an objective manner. She then translates this collected data into visual art. Refi was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1975 and received her B.F.A from the Maryland Institute College of Art and an M.F.A. from the University of Georgia.

Edward Rice
A native of North Augusta, South Carolina, Rice is a painter best known for his stark depictions of architectural details. He has exhibited throughout the southeast and is included in the collections of the Georgia Museum of Art, the Gibbes Museum of Art and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, among others. Rice is a past recipient of the South Carolina Arts Commission Artist Fellowship and the Southern Arts Federation Regional Fellowship

Mike Smith
For nearly thirty years, Smith has photographed the rural landscape of East Tennessee. He earned a B.F.A. from the Massachusetts College of Art, an M.F.A. from Yale University, and currently teaches photography at East Tennessee State University. Smith’s work is included in numerous collections throughout the United States including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1905 in historic Charleston, S.C. The Gibbes houses one of the foremost collections of American Art from the 18th century to the present. The Gibbes is currently undergoing major renovations and will reopen in the spring of 2016. The renovated museum will properly showcase its extensive collections and will feature an admission-free ground floor, providing a place to watch artists at work in studios and stroll through a world-class garden.

135 Meeting Street | Charleston, SC | 29401