Painters & Sculptors & Beyond

By Armando Bellmas

Exhibiting artist Rodrigo Valenzuela has been awarded a 2017 Painters & Sculptors Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Valenzuela’s exhibition, New Land, on view here at McColl Center through December 2, 2017, features a suite of newly commissioned desert images on canvas that address the intersecting ideas of home, man-made borders, and dystopia. The exhibition also features three videos that focus on individual experiences of labor and immigration, calling attention to the limits of American democracy. The artist is based in Los Angeles.

Rodrigo Valenzuela, New Land, installation view, 2017. Courtesy of McColl Center for Art + Innovation.

The annual grant is awarded to twenty-five “painters and sculptors creating work of exceptional quality,” according to the grant program description, through a nomination and jury panel selection process. Each artist receives $25,000 in unrestricted funds. 

McColl Center alumni artists-in-residence that have received the Painters & Sculptors Grant awards in the past include Fahamu Pecou, Carlos Estévez, Andrea Chung, Heather Hart, Glexis Novoa, Nick Cave, Margarita Cabrera, Mei-Ling Hom, Renee Stout, Franco Mondini-Ruiz, Elizabeth Turk, and Mel Chin.

Greensboro, North Carolina-based artist Antoine Williams also received a grant award this year. A former Charlotte resident, Williams is heavily influenced by speculative science fiction (specifically, social science fiction and cosmic horror), hip-hop, and his rural working class upbringing in Red Springs, North Carolina. He has created his own mythology of hybrid creatures that exist between the boundaries of class and race. 

Antoine Williams, The Ain't Gots no. II​, installation shot, 2016. Wheat-paste, wood, seat belt straps, plastic, And 1 shorts on sheet-rock, 36' x 12'. Courtesy of the artist.

This winter, Williams is collaborating with alumnus artist-in-residence Marcus Kiser on a large mural on a retaining wall in the Urban Ministry Center (UMC) community garden. The mural project at UMC, located just a few blocks from McColl Center’s campus, is part of our A Tale of Two Cities initiative, which is supported through ArtPlace America.

The concept and design of the mural will be informed by the duo’s interactions and conversations with neighbors at and around UMC and McColl Center. Two or three neighbors will serve as paid apprentices to Williams and Kiser on the project.

The mural will be a platform for dialogue with neighbors experiencing homelessness, and serve as a marker that unhoused peoples are part of our community.