Announcing Courtney McClellan as Burnaway’s Editor

By January 23, 2024
Courtney McClellan. Photograph by Jill Frank.

Burnaway, the leading voice on contemporary art from the South, is excited to announce the promotion of Courtney McClellan to Editor after a comprehensive review of the field. McClellan, a practicing artist, instructor, and writer in the field, served as the interim Editor from March 2023. 


Executive Director Brandon Sheats on the promotion: 

“Burnaway has had a whirlwind of the past five years, strategically aligning ourselves to deepen our presence and work about the South and soon into the Caribbean. Part of our search for an editor involved someone with knowledge of art and media, a sharp organizational mind, an understanding of the daily lives of artists, and a tremendous capacity for care toward our writers, the public, the art, and the artists we cover. Courtney was a match for all four.”

“Courtney is a great fit as we constantly innovate in our editorial work and field-advancing programs. This is a time to thoughtfully experiment, stabilize the parts that work, and burn away the rest so we can continue to serve our readers.”

In addition to her previous writing for Burnaway, McClellan’s essay, “Putting Words in Your Mouth and Images in Your Eyes,” was published in Ventriloquism, Performance, and Contemporary Art (Routledge 2023). She also served as an Innovator in Residence at the Library of Congress, a McDowell Fellow, a Roman J. Witt Fellow at the University of Michigan, and the Fountainhead Fellow in the Sculpture and Extended Media Department at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Read more about Courtney from March 2023.

To begin her tenure a Editor, she sets out her editorial vision below.

Dear Burnaway Readers,

It is with great pleasure that I accept the post of Editor. Growing up in North Carolina, living and working in much of the Region, and now residing in Atlanta for ten years, I know the South, my home, to be an often overlooked site of artistic ingenuity. As a working artist, writer, and educator, I see the challenges facing cultural workers in our area. My experiences have taught me that an engaged network is the only way forward. I am proud to further support our vibrant, shared ecosystem of artists, galleries, residencies, DIY spaces, and museums through my work at Burnaway.

I am committed to an artist-led editorial agenda that is both accessible and experimental because I passionately believe these objectives are complimentary, not mutually exclusive. With that outlook, Burnaway will serve a devoted artist community while working to bring new audiences to the conversation. Art writing is vital to any dialogue about artistic production. As the field transforms, Burnaway will champion the power of art criticism as a means to understand the world in which we live.

We have already begun to make moves that support these goals through the expansion of the Editor at Large program. In the coming weeks, we will announce new editors who will help Burnaway to better speak to the diversity of the Region and further delve into the specificity of place. These new voices will enrich our collective understanding of art and life in the South and the Caribbean. In addition to our efforts towards speaking to place, the Magazine will emphasize visual art and extend into time-based forms like new media, video, and performance art. Cumulatively, this next year will illuminate the creative process, which, among other developments, will include a new column.

Along with these new initiatives, Burnaway will continue to do what it does best. We will write about the South and the Southern diaspora. We will strengthen a community of artists and writers, with specific efforts towards break-downing barriers of entry and bringing new writers into the field, particularly writers of color, women, LGBTQIA+ identifying people, people with disabilities, and those working in rural communities. We will contextualize cultural production from the Region for a national and international audience. We will build partnerships, like our ongoing collaboration with Art21, because we know that the cross-pollination of ideas and interdependence is vital to our success and mission.

I am thrilled to join Burnaway’s leadership, and I am lucky to work alongside dedicated community members and forward-thinking leader Executive Director Brandon Sheats in building a new vision for the magazine. Ultimately, my hope for the Magazine aligns with yours, dear Reader: Burnaway will serve as the essential source for discovering and rediscovering the art of the South.

More to come,
Courtney McClellan

Related Stories

Jack Whitten: An Artist’s Life

Art21 x Burnaway
“I can build anything I want to build. I’m not a narrative painter. I don’t do the idea or the painting being the illustration of an idea, I don’t do that. It’s all about the materiality of the paint,” notes the late Jack Whitten. In February's Art21 x Burnaway feature, we pay homage to the Alabama-born artist's fifty-year career and ingenuity for invention.