Davion Alston, Kelly Taylor Mitchell and Erin Jane Nelson are the 2020–21 winners of MOCA GA’s prestigious annual Working Artist Project, now in its 13th year.
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia developed the project to support midcareer and established artists in metro Atlanta. It provides each winner with a major stipend to create new work, presents a solo exhibition of that work, produces an accompanying exhibition catalog and provides paid studio apprentices for one year.
These winners bring to 39 the number of artists supported by the fellowship. Past winners include such artists as Maria Artemis, Sheila Pree Bright, Jiha Moon, Masud Olufani, Lauri Stallings, Micah Stansell, Gregor Turk and Caomin Xie.
The 2020–21 finalists were chosen by Marcela Guerrero, an assistant curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. “Atlanta-based artists have shown that during these troubling times, ideas and creativity cannot be stifled,” Guerrero said in a statement. “In fact, they understand the urgency and the social responsibility in harvesting an ecosystem that is critical of our present, yet hopeful of a future crafted by their own hands.”
Here’s a closer look at the new fellows.
Davion Alston earned his B.F.A. degree in studio art with a focus in photography (anthropology minor) from Georgia State University. His work debates the conflation between object and subject with investigations of race, gender, sexuality, class and performance. His work has been seen locally at the Atlanta Photography Group, Hathaway Contemporary Art Gallery and MOCA GA. Nationally, his work has been seen at the inaugural Queer exhibition at Yale University, at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, Alfred University in Alfred, New York, and Art Basel Miami Projects Gallery
KELLY TAYLOR MITCHELL
Kelly Taylor Mitchell, an Atlanta artist and educator, is an artist-in-residence with the Atlanta Contemporary’s Studio Artist Program and an assistant professor of art and visual culture at Spelman College. Her multidisciplinary practice centers oral history and ancestral memory woven in the fabric of the African diaspora in order to present speculative futures, specifically related to concepts of community autonomy, swamp marronage and inherited/constructed identity. She uses printmaking, papermaking, sculpture and textiles to create immersive installations, performative objects and partnered artists book. These provide a venue for the senses — specifically smell — to connect to, convey and reimagine rituals and rites of autonomous kin, collectives and individuals of the African diaspora.
ERIN JANE NELSON
Erin Jane Nelson, a native Atlantan, received her B.F.A. degree from The Cooper Union in New York in 2011. Recent solo exhibitions include: כינהש (Shekinah) at Chapter NY gallery, Her Deepness at the Atlanta Contemporary and Psychopompopolis at DOCUMENT in Chicago. Her work has been acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. She was named one of Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” in Arts and Culture in 2019 and is a 2020 recipient of the Rabkin Award for Arts Journalism. She is executive director of Burnaway.org.
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