Upstate sculpture artist recognized with South Arts State Fellowship

Cash prize, shot at Southern Prize among benefits

Michael Webster | Signal | crystal tableware, utility pole, threaded steel rods, walnut wood | Provided photo; click to enlarge.

As part of their Southern Prize and State Fellowships for Visual Arts program, South Arts is pleased to announce the 2023 State Fellows for Visual Arts—a cohort of nine visual artists across various disciplines and career levels, who represent the Southeastern region.

Each of the awardees are provided a $5,000 state fellowship and an opportunity to win the annual Southern Prize for Visual Arts, which will be announced in late summer 2023.

Upstate sculpture artist Michael Webster is South Carolina’s fellow for the 2023 cycle.

As a response to a gap in regional funding opportunities for individual artists in the South, the Southern Prize and State Fellowships for Visual Arts were created in acknowledgment of the important role artists play in the wellbeing of a region’s culture. Now in its 7th year, South Arts’ State Fellowships for Visual Arts are awarded annually to one artist in each of the nine states in South Arts’ region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

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.

The 2023 cohort of fellows—selected by a national jury—vary in their individual artistic practices and disciplines. Taken as a whole, though, their work explores thematic narratives of resilience, physical disability, and identity, along with the motif of location expressed through environmental and social challenges.

“We are so excited to celebrate the 2023 State Fellows for Visual Arts,” said Susie Surkamer, president and CEO of South Arts. “Their work is a deep reflection of our time, powerfully telling their individual stories of immigration status, disability, race, sense of place and more. Each state fellow has the talent to convey so much through their creativity, and they collectively build toward our better understanding of artists in the South.”

Michael Webster | Set it down right there | 3D modeled and printed PLA plastic, Thonet #18 chair | Provided image; click to enlarge.

The 2023 State Fellows for Visual Arts are:

This flagship program involves a state-specific prize awarded to artists whose work reflects the highest quality visual arts being created in the South. A national jury selected one winner per eligible state, for a group of nine state fellows, based on artistic excellence that reflects and represents the diversity of the region.

The 2023 Southern Prize for Visual Arts winner and finalist, both of whom will be decided by a second jury and receive an additional $25,000 and $10,000 respectively, will be announced and awarded on August 17, 2023 during the opening exhibition and awards ceremony at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi. This touring exhibit will feature the works of all nine state fellows and will be on display at the Ohr-O’Keefe through December 13, 2023. In addition to the larger cash prizes, both Southern Prize recipients will receive a two-week residency at The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences in Rabun Gap, Georgia.

The Southern Prize and State Fellowship program is supported by Southern First Bank and the Warner Fund, as well as many individual donors. For more information about South Arts and its programming, visit

About South Arts

South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit