2023 Southern Prize follow-up: close call for S.C.

Two men stand side by side, holding a prop presentation check to South Carolina artist Michael Webster, holding the check on the left side, at an indoor presentation in front of large windows.

South Arts’ South Carolina fellow Michael Webster (left) was named finalist in this year’s cohort of nine fellows who competed to be winner. South Arts photo provided.

South Arts announced recently that multi-disciplinary artist Victoria Dugger was named the 2023 Southern Prize for Visual Arts winner, receiving a $25,000 award.

Dugger (right) was honored at the celebratory opening of the program’s touring exhibition at Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi in mid August. She was honored alongside South Carolina’s Michael Webster, named finalist and the recipient of a $10,000 grant. The Hub introduced you to Webster when he, Dugger, and seven other artists were named South Arts State Fellows. The touring exhibition features the work of Dugger, Webster, and South Arts’ seven other State Fellowship for Visual Arts recipients.

From the cohort of State Fellows for Visual Arts announced in Spring 2023, the Southern Prize Winner and Finalist were selected by a national jury based on artistic excellence that reflects and represents the diversity of artistic expression of the region. In addition to the cash prizes, both will also receive a two-week residency at The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences in Rabun Gap, Georgia.

“We are thrilled to honor and award Victoria and Michael as recipients of the 2023 Southern Prize for Visual Arts,” said Susie Surkamer, president and CEO of South Arts. “These two artists and their work reflect the mission and heart of this program. Alongside the 2023 class of fellows, we’re also thrilled to showcase their creativity and talent across the region, representing the cultural pulse of the South and demonstrating the fundamental need for arts and culture across our state lines.”

To address the gap in regional arts funding opportunities for artists, the Southern Prize and State Fellowships for Visual Arts program was created in acknowledgment of the important role artists play in the wellbeing of the South’s region’s culture. Now in its 7th year, the program annually awards $80,000 to nine visual artists: $5,000 fellowships to one artist in each state in South Arts’ region of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, with two of the artists receiving the Southern Prize awards of an additional $25,000 and $10,000.

Launched in 2017, the program aims to empower artists with visual narratives that speak to deeper truths about the perils and hardships as well as the opportunities for optimism and justice in daily life in the south and beyond. Spanning the diverse scope of visual arts, the program supports artists across disciplines and categories, including craft, drawing, experimental, painting, photography, sculpture, mixed media, and multidisciplinary.