Florence artist Michael Mitchell wins Artists Collective | Spartanburg Juried Exhibition

Artist Michael Mitchell of Florence, South Carolina, won first place in the Artists Collective | Spartanburg fourth annual Juried Exhibition that showcased the diversity of works within a five-state region.

Of the 500 pieces of artwork submitted by artists in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia for consideration, 70 were selected to be included in the exhibition, which remains open through Saturday, Oct. 22, in the 2,000-square-foot Solomon Gallery at Artists Collective | Spartanburg facility at 578 W. Main St.

Mitchell received $2,500 for his winning mixed media piece titled “The Classroom.”

1st Place - The Classroom by Michael Mitchell

Other awards presented at the Sept. 17 ceremony were:

  • Second place ($1,000): Christine Kminek, Boiling Springs, S.C.; “Trapped Gas,” mixed media.
  • Third place ($500): Caitlin Williams, Simpsonville, S.C.; “Fencing,” drawing.
  • Merit Award ($400): Amanda Kelly, Roanoke, Va.; “Hoarder’s Porch,” sculpture.
  • Merit Award ($250): Nadia Ogunfowora, Charlotte, N.C.; “An Expose on Juxtaposition,” painting.
  • Merit Award ($150): Addam Duncan, Inman, S.C.; “Solutions,” painting.
  • Merit Award ($100): Shaina Manuel, West Columbia, S.C.; “Juneteenth,” drawing.
  • Merit Award ($100): Ariel Adams, Gray, Tenn.; “Warm Smoke Through Soft Petals,” photography. 

“This year – the fourth for our annual Juried Exhibition – we reached a little further and added the state of Virginia to the exhibit,” says Beth Regula, chair of the management board of the Artists Collective | Spartanburg, who added that the judges this year were from South Carolina and Virginia. “We look forward every year to meeting artists from beyond our borders of the Artists Collective | Spartanburg. Meeting and talking with other artists broadens our knowledge of the art being made in our southeastern region.

2nd Place - Trapped Gas by Christine Kminek

“This exhibit will awe you, make you shake your head and smile,” Regula continues. “There is something for every art taste. We encourage everyone to visit the exhibit in person in our Solomon Gallery or to visit our website to see the works and watch a video of the jurors speaking about the exhibit. The video gives an insight to what the jurors saw when choosing some of the award winners.”

Mitchell describes his piece being inspired by the difficulties of students and teachers returning to the classroom in September, “amid rising COVID cases” with teachers getting “contradictory priorities: to manage a classroom filled with young people who had not been in a classroom for nearly two years and protect the health of the students and community by maintaining social distancing.” With distancing – without appropriate space in the room – along with masks, questionable disinfecting practices and plastic shields, “through all of this, teachers were expected to instruct the students, and the students were expected to learn,” he adds. “Even in a large room, like the ones I teach in, claustrophobia built on top of anxiety. The space bent in on itself from the density of the clutter and the burdens of teaching a class in the middle of a pandemic.”

Kminek says her acrylic and recycled material canvas “explores a neverland world of pressure. Inspired by a child’s elevator etiquette conversation and the question ‘Where does it go if you don’t pass the gas?’ This is where. The land of unbroken wind and unfulfilled dreams.”

3rd Place - Fencing by Caitlin Williams

Williams describes her piece as “an abstraction of chain link fencing in charcoal, conte, eraser and graphite.”


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