The Gibbes Museum of Art this week announced Donté K. Hayes as the 2019 winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. Hayes, a Georgia-based ceramicist, explores themes in Afrofuturism, a projected vision of an imagined future which critiques the historical and cultural events of the African Diaspora and the distinct black experience of the Middle Passage. Hayes will be awarded a $10,000 cash prize and will be celebrated at the Amy P. Coy Forum and Prize Party hosted by Society 1858 at the Gibbes on February 6 & 7, 2020.
“We’re thrilled to announce Donté as our winner,” says Angela Mack, executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art. “His works demonstrate a powerful vision, as he is at the forefront of southern contemporary art. We were extremely impressed with all of our finalists this year and want to thank everyone who submitted to Society 1858.”
Hayes works in clay as a historical and creative base material to inform memories of the past. Ceramics becomes a bridge to conceptually integrate disparate objects and or images for the purpose of creating new understandings and connections with the material, history, and social-political issues. These ceramic objects are vessels, each making symbolic allusions to the black body.
“Thank you to the Gibbes Museum and to Society 1858 for awarding me this year’s 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art,” says Donté Hayes, the 2019 award recipient. “This is a tremendous honor and I wish to congratulate my fellow finalists. As an artist working in the Southern United States this award is so important to recognize all the powerful artwork and creative souls working and born in the Southern region. Winning this award will help to continue to push my art practice financially and creatively after graduate school, along with the opportunity to reach more audiences with my artwork through receiving this prestigious prize. Thank you again and I am blessed and humbled by winning this award.”
Hayes has exhibited extensively across the southern United States as well as internationally in London, England. He is the recent recipient of two full tuition residencies at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. His artwork is in the permanent collection of the Zuckerman Museum of Art at Kennesaw State University and Spruill Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Hayes is a 2020 Master of Fine Arts degree candidate at The University of Iowa.
Each year, the 1858 Prize is presented by Society 1858, a member auxiliary group of the Gibbes Museum of Art comprised of young professionals. The $10,000 cash prize is awarded to one artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. This year, the panelists were forced to choose six finalists due to the outstanding caliber of candidates received. Along with Hayes, this year’s short list of finalists included Damian Stamer, Herb Parker, Martha Clippinger, Michi Meko and Stephanie Patton.