Inaugural Southern Studies fellows announced
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.
Chapman Cultural Center, Hub City Writers Project announce initiative
$150,000 helps create three-year partnership project
Chapman Cultural Center and the Hub City Writers Project have jointly received a $150,000 grant from the Watson-Brown Foundation for a new, three-year initiative, the Southern Studies Fellowship in Arts and Letters.
This first-of-its-kind program will bring one early-career artist and one early career-writer to Spartanburg for a nine-month residency of research, creativity, teaching, and travel, culminating in a collaborative project informed by the region. The program, which will begin accepting applications this month, will be marketed nationally to artists and writers who are interested in immersing themselves in the culture of the American South. Creatives interested in the program can learn more and apply at www.southernstudiesfellowship.org
“By bringing dynamic creative people together with dynamic arts organizations and scholars through the region, we will set in motion new explorations of the modern South that will reverberate beyond our community,” said Jennifer Evins
, Chapman Cultural Center president and CEO.
“This grant is designed to create a life-changing experience for the fellows, to provide engaging intellectual opportunities for local students and citizens, and to create a model program for community cultural study through art and literature,” said Anne Waters
, executive director of the Hub City Writers Project.
Over the three-year period of the grant, each Southern Studies Fellow will be provided with a furnished apartment with paid utilities in downtown Spartanburg and a monthly stipend. Applications for the program will be available online in early 2021, and the first fellows will come to Spartanburg from September 2021 to May 2022. It is open to residents of the United States. The initiative replaces existing residency programs by Chapman and Hub City.
In addition to focusing on their own creative projects, the Southern Studies Fellows will have opportunities and requirements for educational community service in Spartanburg County; these will include regular college and high school classroom visits/lectures, readings, open studios, workshops, and projects affiliated with the host organizations. The fellows will be expected to contribute up to 20 hours per week in the following areas: community service, artist-writer collaboration, and out-of-town travel for project research.
A key component of this unique fellowship is the opportunity to interact with leading scholars, artists, and writers throughout the South. Each fellow will have opportunities to travel in the Southern region to conduct research at cultural and educational institutions, which will inform their work and will be critical in the development of their ideas for a collaborative project that expands the understanding of the modern South.
Named for Thomas E. Watson and J.J. Brown, the Watson Brown Foundation
invests in education and historical preservation, annually awarding more than $2.4 million in merit and need-based college scholarships to students from an eighteen-county region of Georgia and South Carolina. The foundation, based in Thomson, Georgia, also operates a grant program that encourages responsible scholarship on the South and supports historic preservation. Additionally, it owns and operates three historic sites in Georgia.
With roots that stretch back more than 50 years, the Chapman Cultural Center’s mission is to provide cultural leadership for Greater Spartanburg by developing, strengthening, and promoting the scope, excellence and educational role of the arts, humanities and sciences, and to further their significance in the life of our community. It serves as the official South Carolina Arts Commission-designated arts agency of Spartanburg County. Chapman provides general operating support for nine cornerstone cultural institutions, including the Hub City Writers Project, through its United Arts Fund and provides project grants to local artists and organizations.
The Hub City Writers Project, founded in 1995, serves its mission to cultivate readers and nurture writers through its independent press, community bookshop, and diverse literary programming. Its flagship program, Hub City Press, is one of only three Southern book publishers funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. It is focused on finding and spotlighting new and extraordinary voices from the American South.
About Chapman Cultural Center
Our mission is to provide cultural leadership for Greater Spartanburg by developing, strengthening, and promoting the scope, excellence and educational role of the arts, humanities and sciences, and to further their significance in the life of our community. Visit our website to learn more.
About Hub City Writers Project
The Hub City Writers Project is a non-profit organization in Spartanburg dedicated to cultivating readers and nurturing writers through its independent small press, community bookstore, and diverse literary programming that serves our community and beyond. For more information please visit www.hubcity.org.