In the presence of art, we have the opportunity to see inside someone’s heart, mind, and soul and feel what they felt.

1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, 2015 Short List of Finalists


On June 15, 2015 the Gibbes Museum of Art and Society 1858 announced the short list of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. The $10,000 annual prize recognizes a Southern artist who has distinguished him or herself in any media and has made a distinct contribution to the production and understanding of Southern art. The prize, originally given as the Factor prize by Mallory and Elizabeth Factory in 2007, is now overseen by Society 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art’s young patron auxiliary group. The Society 1858 Board of Directors has spent the last few years working to rejuvenate and rebrand the prize, which now has its own website ( and helps the museum to establish long-term relationships with its prize-winning artists.

This year, over 275 artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia submitted their work for consideration for the prize. Six artists have been chosen for the short list of finalists, from which one winner will be chosen and announced on September 17 during an event hosted by Society 1858 and the Gibbes Museum of Art. The six artists who have been selected are Aldwyth, Andrea Keys Connell, Kevin Jerome, Everson, George Jenne, Deborah Luster, and Ebony G. Patterson. These six impressive artists were selected by a panel of judges including Charles Ailstock, Society 1858 Board member; Jamieson Clair, Society 1858 Board President; Sonya Clark, artist and 2014 Prize winner; Miranda Lash, Curator of Contemporary Art, The Speed Art Museum; Cary Levine, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Mark Sloan, Director and Chief Curator, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art; and Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibitions at the Gibbes Museum of Art. This year’s finalists include artists who work in a variety of mediums, from photography and film to assemblage, sculpture, and mixed-media installations.

2015 Finalist Bios

South Carolina artist Aldwyth has worked in relative seclusion for several decades. She creates intricate collages and assemblages, often monumental in scale, from found objects, appropriated images, text, and other elements. Aldwyth was recently honored with a major one person traveling exhibition organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston.

Secrets of my Mind, 2015, by Aldwyth
Secrets of my Mind, 2015, by Aldwyth

Andrea Keys Connell
Sculptor Andrea Keys Connell creates figurative works that challenge conventional notions of monuments, statuary, and figurines. Using clay with other mixed media, her work has a strong narrative and emotive quality. Keys Connell lives in Richmond, Virginia where she serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Un-Home-Like, 2010, by Andra keys Connell
Un-Home-Like, 2010, by Andra keys Connell

Kevin Jerome Everson
Kevin Jerome Everson’s films utilize both scripted and documentary footage to examine the everyday lives of working class African Americans and other people of African descent. A prolific filmmaker, Everson has created both feature-length and short films characterized by a subtle, poetic quality. His work is included in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and is currently on view in the museum’s inaugural exhibition.

Ninety-Three, 2008, by Kevin Jerome Everson
Ninety-Three, 2008, by Kevin Jerome Everson

George Jenne
George Jenne is a video artist who combines moving images with the spoken word to create uniquely narrative films. His work explores the inner psyche of his characters, revealing the complex ideas and emotions underlying each individual. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Jenne currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Spooky Understand (installation detail), 2014, by George Jenne
Spooky Understand (installation detail), 2014, by George Jenne

Deborah Luster
Luster, who lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana, turned to photography as a means to cope with the murder of her mother. She has created thousands of powerful, haunting portraits of prisoners housed in Louisiana. Her recent body of work captures desolate landscapes in New Orleans where murders have occurred.

"One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, 1998-2003, by Deborah Luster
One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, 1998-2003, by Deborah Luster

Ebony G. Patterson
The work of mixed-media artist Ebony G. Patterson investigates the complex relationships between gender, politics, beauty, race, and ritual in contemporary Jamaican culture. Her artistic practice combines painting, textiles, and installation work, often in large scale. A native of Jamaica, Patterson lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky, where she serves as an Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky.

Wata Marassa-Beyond the Bladez, 2014 by Ebony G. Patterson
Wata Marassa-Beyond the Bladez,
2014 by Ebony G. Patterson

“Seeing the prize grow this year—not only in the number of applications, but also in the level of diversity and range of artistic medium—has been like a dream come true for Society 1858,” says Society 1858 President Jamieson Clair.

To learn more about the prize please visit


Published July 10, 2015

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