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2014-15 Working Artist Fellows Announced at MOCA GA

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In the front row, holding $1,000 checks donated by Binders, are the new WAP fellows Sarah Emerson, Jonathan Bouknight, and Sheila Pree Bright, with previous fellows in the back row.

Jonathan Bouknight, Sarah Emerson, and Sheila Pree Bright were announced as the three new Working Artist Project fellows at a reception this evening at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. They were selected by juror Siri Engberg, senior curator of visual arts at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Funded by the Charles Loridans Foundation, the WAP fellowship is geared toward midcareer and established artists in Metro Atlanta. MOCA director Annette Cone-Skelton announced that each of the artists will receive a $15,000 stipend, up from $12,000 for previous recipients, thanks to additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Each winner also receives a studio assistant, an exhibition at MOCA and an accompanying catalogue.

The three artists, who only learned of their good fortune at 3pm today, were selected from eight finalists winnowed from 74 submissions. At the reception, Engberg said that each was chosen because their work is heading in a new direction with projects that are “in progress but fully formed and ready to go.

Danielle Roney said of the fellowship: “It’s about taking risks.” The presentation included video clips of previous fellows discussing their experiences. Martha Whittington enthusiastically recalled that she was able to buy her first five yards of industrial felt, allowing her to experiment with materials without having to save two paychecks. Fahamu Pecou noted that WAP helped him to grow up—“It’s different to conceive a museum exhibition than a gallery exhibition.” Jiha Moon said the fellowship “kinda nailed it” in making her feel like a part of the Atlanta art community.

The 2014/15 fellows join 18 WAP alumni, including the inaugural recipients in 2007-08, Larry Walker, Don Cooper and Danielle Roney, and current fellow Scott Ingram, whose WAP exhibition, “Blue Collar Modernism,” just opened at MOCA [through September 13]. A show of the WAP studio assistants is concurrently on view

In a press statement, Engberg commented on the three winners:

Jonathan Bouknight’s work presents us with an interdisciplinary mix of video, performance, sculpture, and drawing.  His recent project, which will continue its development during his MOCA GA fellowship, draws from an interest in obscure histories, a careful attention to process, and an openness to allowing chance to guide him. The results promise to be compelling and refreshingly unique.

Sarah Emerson’s rich, haunting wall works and canvases bring to mind a range of influences, from Japanese manga illustration to graphic novels to history painting. The colorful, seductive landscapes she conjures are also infused with a heavy dose of black—a reminder that the world of imagination has its dark side. Her plans for MOCA GA’s galleries are exciting, and will take her work in a bold new direction.

Over the past decade, Sheila Pree Bright has probed American culture through her incisive use of portrait photography in both gallery and public settings. Her latest photographic project—her most ambitious to date—celebrates a generation of leaders from Atlanta and elsewhere in the American south who became the catalyst for social change in the early 1960s.

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