When the Gibbes Museum opened in 1905, the nation celebrated what Charleston has always understood: the power of art – to inspire our imagination, heal our hurt, and nourish our souls.

Gibbes Museum of Art Announces the 2019 Finalists for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art

CHARLESTON, S.C., November 5, 2019 – The Gibbes Museum of Art is pleased to announce the finalists for the annual 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. The 2019 finalists are Damian Stamer, Donte’ K. Hayes, Herb Parker, Martha Clippinger, Michi Meko and Stephanie Patton. One of these artists, whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South, will be presented a $10,000 cash prize and have one selected artwork exhibited in the contemporary and modern galleries for the duration of 2020.

“This year we were forced to choose six finalists due to the outstanding caliber of candidates we received,” says Angela Mack, Executive Director at the Gibbes Museum of Art. “Each of these finalists embodies an artist on the forefront of southern contemporary art. The 1858 prize embodies everything that the Gibbes stands for, and this years’ nominees truly impressed us.”

This year, more than 200 artists across the Southeast submitted applications. The winner will be announced by the end of November and celebrated at the Amy P. Coy Forum and Prize Party hosted by Society 1858 at the Gibbes on February 6 & 7, 2020 in Charleston. The forum will bring together artists and experts for a conversation about the impact of contemporary art in the South followed by a reception celebrating the 2019 winner.

2019 Finalists

Damian Stamer

Damian Stamer (b. 1982) is a North Carolina based painter. In an ongoing series, the artist captures old barns, however picturesque and quaint, that stand as remnants of American industries founded upon slavery and exploitation. Time is visible here. Quiet moments approach the sublime when afternoon light rakes the grain of a fallen beam, or cloud-like stuffing erupts from a rotten chair. Violent and tender, this beauty hinges on the delicate nature of existence. These remnants are, like us, soaked with impermanence. We cannot escape a similar fate. Damian Stamer has exhibited extensively in the Southeastern United States as well as internationally in Tokyo, Japan and Budapest, Hungary. His work is in the permanent collection of The Mint Museum and the North Carolina Museum of Art. He is represented by SOCO Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina and Bridgette Mayer Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Donte’ K. Hayes

Donte’ K. Hayes is a Georgia based ceramicist. Through the influence of hip-hop, history, and science fiction, the artist’s artwork explores themes in Afrofuturism, a projected vision of an imagined future which critiques the historical and cultural events of the African Diaspora and the distinct black experience of the Middle Passage. While also delving into deeper social issues which broaden the conversation between all of humanity.

From these ideas, his art practice is based on research and references the visual traditions from the American South, the Caribbean, and the African continent. Hayes works in clay as a historical and creative base material to inform memories of the past. Ceramics becomes a bridge to conceptually integrate disparate objects and or images for the purpose of creating new understandings and connections with the material, history, and social-political issues. These ceramic objects are vessels, each making symbolic allusions to the black body.

Donte’ K. Hayes has exhibited extensively across the Southern United States as well as internationally in London, England. He is the recent recipient of full tuition residencies at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. His artwork is in the permanent collection of the Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia and Spruill Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia. Hayes is a 2020 Forthcoming Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Degree Candidate, School of Art and Art History, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Herb Parker

Herb Parker (b. 1953) is a South Carolina based installation artist. His nature-based installations, which began in the mid-seventies, are created to enhance a viewer’s perception of the environment and our relationship with nature. These environmental installations evolved from the artist’s thoughts on the mechanism of natural systems in time. This series serves as an ephemeral memento to the resilience of nature and an affirmation of the continuum of systems within the natural order.  Parker’s nature-based installations speak in a hybrid language from three distinct realms: architecture, sculpture and landscape.  His thoughts revolve around time, movement, history, culture, community, dialogue, spirituality, entropy and regeneration. The architectural situations created have recurring motifs that include; sanctuary, labyrinth, the golden ratio, and a place for dialogue. Herb Parker hopes to achieve a synthesis of systems from the natural world in the service of architectonic ideals.

Herb Parker is a professor of art at the College of Charleston since 1991. He was awarded the South Arts South Carolina Fellowship, South Arts, Atlanta, Georgia in 2017. Parker’s nature-based installations have taken him all over the world, most recently to create “Sami Dialogue,” Landart in Alingsas, Nolhaga Park in Alingsas, Sweden and to participate in the 8th Geumgang Nature Art Biennale, Mt. Yeonmi, in Gongju, Korea.

Martha Clippinger

Martha Clippinger (b. 1983) is a North Carolina based multi-media artist. Clippinger’s work blurs the lines between painting and sculpture, fine art and folk, craft and design. The artist intuitively explores color, geometry, and texture while constructing dimensional paintings from scraps of wood and sewing quilts from reclaimed fabrics. Clippinger embraces the inherent imperfections of found materials and integrates them into the off-kilter geometries and irregular symmetries of their designs.

A curiosity to learn about different materials engages the artist in a variety of processes. Clippinger’s developed a visual vocabulary of colors, shapes, and which forms across a range of media that includes not only wooden constructions and quilts, but also woolen weavings and ceramics. The painted constructions, while modest in scale, occupy a space beyond their physical dimensions, and the large, woolen tapestries shift from wall to floor and back again.  Clippinger uses these objects to play with architecture and draw attention to the relationship between the artwork and its surrounding.

Martha Clippinger most recently exhibited with Elizabeth Harris Gallery in NYC, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens in Philadelphia, PA, and Hodges Taylor in Charlotte, NC. Her practice and work was featured in Burnaway’s September editorial “Take Five: Textiles.” She has instructed at Duke University, NC and Penland School of Craft, NC.

Michi Meko

Michi Meko is a Georgia based multi-media artist. In the summer of 2015, he almost drowned. Inviting this life changing event’s influence into the artist’s studio practice, Meko’s recent paintings and sculptures focus on the African American experience of navigating public spaces while remaining buoyant within them. Meko’s work contributes to an important conversation, reflecting upon the African American experience in public spaces. Now more visible and open with the evidence and sharing offered by social media. This barrage of images simulates the experience of drowning under the heavy weight of ten thousand pounds of pressure while being held to the ocean’s floor.

Michi Meko’s work uses a visual language of naval flags and nautical wayfinding, combined with romanticized objects of the American South as a means to communicate the psychological and the physical. These references signal the warning of a threat or the possibility of safe passage. Working beyond the physical image of the body, objects of buoyancy and navigation become metaphors for survival.

Michi Meko’s most recent selected solo exhibitions include Chimento Contemporary in Los Angeles, CA and the Alan Avery Art Company in Atlanta, GA. In 2017, Meko was awarded the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant. His work lives in the permanent collection of the High Museum of Art, GA among many private collections.

Stephanie Patton

Stephanie Patton (b. 1969) is a Louisiana based multi-media artist. Humor plays an important role in the artist’s work. Often using it as a device to bring attention to critical issues including an exploration of mental and physical health, themes of healing, comfort and self-preservation. As a child of a parent afflicted with mental illness, Patton can speak of the misunderstood nature of this disease and the taboos associated with it. Through this experience, Patton gravitates towards materials and processes that best addresses their conceptual concerns and often allude to various emotional states. Mattress quilting can suggest ideas related to birth, death, intimacy, relationships, illness and rest. Patton also uses vinyl in sculptural relief work for its physical properties as well as for its inherent references to mental and physical health and protection. Patton’s work often addresses psychological themes while exploring the relationship between humor and personal therapies.

Stephanie Patton was recently selected as South Arts 2019 Southern Prize and State Fellows. Patton’s work exhibited at Art Miami, Miami, FL with Arthur Roger Gallery and the New Orleans Museum of Art, LA. This year, Patton was the Artist-in-Residence for the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, LA, June – July. Stephanie Patton’s work lives in private and public permanent collections including the New Orleans Museum of Art, LA, and the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation, Los Angeles, CA.

The 2019 panelists included 2018 Prize Winner Dr. Leo Twiggs, Society 1858 representatives Emily Broome and Jay Benson, Artist/Curator Alex Paik, Birmingham Museum of Art Curator Hallie Ringle and Spelman Museum of Fine Art Curator Anne Collins Smith.

For more information, visit www.1858prize.org.

About Society 1858

The 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art is presented by Society 1858, a member auxiliary group of the Gibbes Museum of Art. This group of dynamic young professionals supports the Gibbes Museum with social and educational programs tailored for up-and-coming art patrons. To learn more about membership in Society 1858, please visit www.gibbesmuseum.org.

About the Gibbes Museum of Art

Home to the Carolina Art Association, established in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art is recognized among the oldest arts organizations in the United States. Housing one of the foremost collections of American Art from the 18th century to the present, the museum’s mission is to enhance lives through art by engaging people of every background and experience with art and artists of enduring quality and by providing opportunities to learn, to discover, to enjoy and to be inspired by the creative process. For more information, visit www.gibbesmuseum.org.


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