Visual artist, writer selected
Chapman Cultural Center and Hub City Writers Project are pleased to announce the selection of writer Morgan Thomas and visual artist Ben Winans as recipients of the first Southern Studies Fellowship in Arts and Letters.
The pair will begin their nine-month residency in Spartanburg this September and will collaborate on a joint project addressing the culture of the American South.
The Southern Studies Fellowship in Arts and Letters is a three-year initiative jointly hosted by Chapman Cultural Center and Hub City Writers Project and funded through a three-year $150,000 grant from the Watson-Brown Foundation.
Morgan Thomas (they/them) is a writer from Gulf Breeze, Florida. Their work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Electric Literature, them., the Kenyon Review Online, and Storyquarterly. They’ve received support from the Bread Loaf Work-Study Program and the Fulbright Foundation. Manywhere, their debut story collection, is forthcoming from publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux’s MCD imprint in January 2022.
Morgan earned a bachelor’s in English and a bachelor’s in zoology from the University of Florida in 2014 and a master of fine arts in fiction from the University of Oregon in 2016. In addition to their work as a writer, they has advocated for Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ communities for three years.
Ben Winans (he/him) of Raleigh is an interdisciplinary artist who engages in old and new media to tell stories regarding his upbringing in Southern evangelical Christianity. Through his multimedia works, Ben offers a broad discussion on Christian nationalism, a mediation of cultural and national identity informed by his family’s missionary work in Africa and Japan, and the assertion that what we believe matters.
Ben has earned a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2018 and a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Michigan in 2021. His work began in 2014 as an artist assistant for Ben Sloat and at a gallery in Richmond, Virginia. Ben is currently an exhibitions assistant for Stamps Gallery and was a graduate student instructor for several art classes at Stamps School of Art & Design. Winan’s hard work has been recognized throughout the years through the John Roos Memorial Scholarship for Artists Working in the Humanities in 2017, the Smucker-Wagstaff Grant in 2019 and 2020, and the Jean-Paul Slasser Award for recognition of excellence, M.F.A. Thesis Project.
“We are so pleased to offer this unique opportunity to Morgan and Ben,” said Hub City Writers Project Executing Director Anne Waters. “Of all the outstanding candidates we interviewed for the Southern Studies Fellowships they were the most compelling. To have two such gifted individuals come to Spartanburg to create a project and share their talent with our community feels momentous.”
“I’m thrilled about this selection of creative minds. We had dozens of talented and passionate people apply for this opportunity and it was a long and difficult task to bring together the two creative spirits we felt were on similar wavelengths. Ben and Morgan will need to work closely together and collaborate every step of the way. It’s going to be fascinating to see what evolves with these two deep thinkers and I can’t wait to experience the finished product,” said Chapman Cultural Center Community Impact and Outreach Director Melissa Earley.
The fellowship is a nine-month residency of research, creativity, teaching, and travel to collaborate on a project informed by the region. The fellows will live and have studio space in Spartanburg and are tasked with immersing themselves in the culture of the American South, along with participating in community service for educational purposes. A key component of this unique fellowship is the opportunity to interact with leading scholars, artists, and writers throughout the Southeast and to conduct research at prominent cultural and educational institutions. This research will inform their work and will be critical in the development of their collaborative project to expand their understanding of the modern South.