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Gibbes Museum’s Society 1858 Announces Leo Twiggs as Winner of Prize for Contemporary Southern Art

Midnight Special, 2000, by Leo Twiggs; batik, 14 x 24 inches; courtesy of the artist.

CHARLESTON, S.C. August 13, 2018 — The Gibbes Museum of Art is proud to announce artist Leo Twiggs from Orangeburg, S.C. as the 2018 winner of the Society 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. Twiggs is the first artist from South Carolina to win the prestigious prize.

“I am on cloud nine,” said Twiggs. “It is an unbelievable feeling at this time in my career. For it to happen at the Gibbes, in a city where my ancestors were first brought ashore as slaves, and just 45 miles from where I was born and did my first drawings on the back side of discarded wallpaper, is humbling and heartwarming.”

Each year, the 1858 Prize is presented by Society 1858, a member auxiliary group of the Gibbes Museum of Art comprised of young professionals. The $10,000 cash prize is awarded to one artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. This year, more than 247 artists from across the South submitted applications. Along with Twiggs, this year’s short list of finalists included María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Stephen Hayes, Birney Imes and Susan Worsham.

Twiggs is the first South Carolina artist to win the Society 1858 Prize for Contemporary Art. Photo credit: Jerry Siegel

Twiggs is the first South Carolina artist to win the Society 1858 Prize for Contemporary Art. Photo credit: Jerry Siegel

Born in the Lowcountry town of St. Stephen, South Carolina in 1934, Twiggs studied art at Claflin College in Orangeburg and went on to earn a Masters degree from New York University and a doctorate in art education from the University of Georgia. In 1964 he began his thirty-four year teaching career at South Carolina State University. A year later he began experimenting with batik, a wax-resist method of dyeing textiles. He was attracted to the medium for its rich tradition and improvisational nature.

Much of Twiggs’ work explores family history, cultural heritage, and how the past is manifest in contemporary life. His series titled “Requiem for Mother Emanuel” recently traveled throughout the southeast, earning acclaim as a powerful tribute to the nine church members slain during the horrific shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

The Gibbes Museum currently has three of Twiggs’ works in its collection: The Omen, Sarah Remembered and Requiem for Mother Emanuel #3.

Twiggs will be celebrated at the Amy P. Coy Forum and Prize Party hosted by Society 1858 on Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Gibbes Museum. The event will begin with remarks from Twiggs, followed by a panel discussion about plans for collaboration and expansion of the three Southern art prizes. Panelists will include: Darla Moore and Wim Roefs from ArtFields, Suzi Surkamer from South Arts and Angela Mack from the Gibbes.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the Amy P. Coy Forum and Prize Party, 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.

About Society 1858:
Society 1858 is a group of dynamic young professionals supported by the Gibbes Museum of Art with social and educational programs tailored for up-and-coming art patrons. To learn more about membership in Society 1858: www.gibbesmuseum.org/become-a-member/#society-1858.

About the 1858 Prize & Panelists:
The 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art recognizes the highest level of artistic achievement in any media by awarding $10,000 to an artist whose work contributes to a new understanding of art in the South. Artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia are eligible to apply. Judges include previous 1858 Prize winners, Society 1858 members, visual arts professionals and museum staff members.

2018 Panelists:
Bo Bartlett, artist, 2017 winner of the 1858 Prize
Liza Cleveland, Society 1858 board member
Adam Justice, Assistant Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, The Mint Museum
Anja Kelley, Society 1858 board member
Marshall Price, Nancy Hanks Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Nasher Museum of Art
Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibitions, Gibbes Museum of Art
Caroline Wright, Independent Curator and Co-founder of look-see.co

MEDIA CONTACT:
Russell Powell
R. Powell PR
[email protected]

Published August 13, 2018

Top Image: Sarah Remembered, 1997, by Leo Twiggs; batik; 24 x 18 inches; courtesy of the artist. Blues at the Beach, 1999, by Leo Twiggs; batik; 33 ½ x 30 inches; courtesy of the artist. Midnight Special, 2000, by Leo Twiggs; batik, 14 x 24 inches; courtesy of the artist.

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