Florida State University’s Department of Art would like to congratulate MFA ’16 graduate, Brittany Watkins, who was recently awarded the 2017 Juried Panel Prize at ArtFields for her work titled <Accept [(Self)+Elsewhere]. This competition took place April 21 – 29, 2017 in Lake City, SC. Watkins’ site-specific installation won the Juried Panel Prize of $25,000!
ArtFields is an annual art competition and festival in Lake City, South Carolina, which seeks to honor artists of the Southeast region through a week’s worth of competition and celebration. This year, 400 artists from the 12 Southeastern states participated, and collectively they presented works from across all media. Input from the visitors to ArtFields and a panel of judges comprised of acclaimed educators and artists decided the winners. In the end, more than $120,000 in cash prizes were awarded to artists in a wide range of categories.
<Accept [(Self)+Elsewhere] is a site-specific installation with an interrelationship with Lake City, this location and building, as the place it was designed and created for. Brittany utilized historic and current day aspects of the town to inform, inspire, and build the piece.
After traveling from Tallahassee, FL with only a few tools and materials, I was welcomed into the home of two locals, Amber Herring and Jessy Amaya, without whom, this piece would not exist. They offered to host me for the duration of the project, during which, I discovered a crucial part of the process was learning from and about the lives of the townspeople which I encountered. If you look closely you will see and hear both real and metaphorical details from these stories weaved into the concept and visual presentation. Amber and Jessy took me on a non-typical tour of the city, helping to collect discarded household-items and furniture off the streets of Lake City. Almost all of what you see, from the recognizable thing that has been painted over to the broken-down, dissected furnishing you might not quite recognize, it once belonged to a person living here.
My work investigates the ever-changing dynamics between public and private spaces within the framework of larger social issues. I examine the individual, subtle, interior, psychological space alongside its counterpart: the public, edited, physical, external world. This installation invites viewers to enter the artwork as if stepping into an abstract painting, offering a reality separate from ordinary life and traditional art-viewing. When inside, you are faced with differing perspectives of the American South and rural America. I use tension as a tool in my work, choosing objects that range in use, historical context, and class. These items teeter the line between playful and ominous as they simultaneously point to scarcity and excess. This imagined place, made real, as it is set in time situated amongst histories, memories, and perceptions of reality. The unresolved environment implores viewer investigation, consciousness, and inquiry to draw one’s own conclusions.
Brittany M. Watkins is an interdisciplinary artist. She was born and raised in Carrollton, Georgia where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from the University of West Georgia. After being awarded the Art Study Abroad Scholarship, she traveled to Bayeux, Caen, St.Malo, and Paris, France, where she studied advanced watercolors. It was during this time abroad that she first experienced strange visions similar to a dream; she witnessed herself from afar. These third-person introspections proved to be artworks in their own right, leading to a shift away from sculptural ceramics and into video and performance. Brittany has since won awards in both Georgia and Florida for her video and installation work. She received the first ever Juror’s Choice Award in the Annual Juried Student Exhibition at the Bobick Gallery for her video, Sleep Away the Day Little Girl, in 2011. She was given a sculpture area award in 2015 as well as the Jim Boone Endowed Art Scholarship in 2016 while working on her Master’s Degree in Studio Art at Florida State University.
As an exhibiting artist, Brittany has shown work in variety of settings ranging from fine art galleries and experimental spaces to the Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee, Florida and the international contemporary art fair Aqua Art Miami. This year Brittany has also exhibited work in the first ever Nasty Women Exhibition in Brooklyn, NYC and continues to host independent, pop-up exhibitions @the SH/ed/ in her backyard. She is currently living and working as a full time artist in Tallahassee while she seeks various opportunities around the world.