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CCU gallery director is finalist for Southern art prize

July 21, 2014

Coastal Carolina University art gallery director James Arendt is one of seven finalists for the Gibbes Museum’s Society 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. He was the only South Carolina artist selected from more than 250 applications.

The winner, who will receive a $10,000 cash award, will be announced Sept. 18.

Arendt, a South Carolina Arts Commission Visual Arts Fellow for 2014, is a lecturer in CCU’s Department of Visual Arts and director of the Rebecca Randall Bryan Gallery.

Arendt is an artist whose work explores the shifting paradigms of labor and place through narrative figure painting, drawing, prints, fabric and sculpture. His work has been exhibited internationally in numerous group and solo shows. Arendt’s recent awards include the $50,000 top prize at ArtFields and Best in Show at Hub-Bub Gallery’s Emerging Carolina. His work was also included in the 701 Contemporary Center for the Arts 701 CCA Prize 2012. He was awarded Best in Show during Fantastic Fibers at Yeiser Art Center, Paducah, Ky. His work will also be included in Fiberarts International 2013 in Pittsburgh and the 2013 Museum Rijswijk Textile Biennial, Netherlands.

Arendt earned a BFA from Kendall College of Art & Design and an MFA with a concentration in painting from the University of South Carolina. He has studied art in England and Spain and participated in residency programs including “The Fields Project” in Illinois.

Society 1858, an organization of energetic young up-and-comers affiliated with the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, renamed the competition earlier this year, According to the Gibbes website, the event “acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South.”

More than 250 artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia submitted applications.

In addition to Arendt, the finalists were: Sonya Clark of Richmond, Va.; Andre Leon Gray of Raleigh, N.C.; Jackson Martin, of Asheville, N.C.; Jason Mitcham, of New York City; Damian Stamer of Durham, N.C.; and Stacy Lynn Waddell, also of Durham, N.C.

The artists were selected by a panel of artists, art advocates and museum professionals.

“We are thrilled to have received so many qualified applicants to the 1858 Prize,” said Gibbes Museum Curator of Exhibitions Pam Wall, who served as a judge on the panel. “Narrowing the list to seven artists was a tough task, but we feel this group represents the great talent and creativity of the contemporary Southern art scene.”