Grant brings Jenny Fine back to Wiregrass Museum of Art

In this 2015 file photo, Enterprise artist Jenny Fine places a blanket of cotton onto a cyclorama for her "Flat Granny and Me," exhibit at the Wiregrass Museum of Art. A state grant will allow Fine to return to the museum with an exhibit in 2020.

A combined $10,000 grant will help fund a 2020 exhibit exploring the world below the surface of Southern waterways and provide an opportunity for local high school students to expand their artistic horizons.

The Wiregrass Museum of Art received the grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA), according to a Tuesday news release announcing the award.

The award designates $3,800 for a 2020 exhibition by Enterprise-based artist Jenny Fine, and $6,200 for the 2020 Out of the (Art) Box installation competition for high school students, held annually in late February as part of the museum’s Youth Art Month.

Jenny Fine has exhibited work in the Dothan museum twice before, first with “Flat Granny and Me: A Procession in My Mind” in 2015, including a float in the 2014 National Peanut Parade based on the exhibition, and 2017's live performance, “In Unison,” during which she took photographs and video footage for a later exhibition at the Mobile Museum of Art.

Fine's 2020 exhibition, tentatively titled “When We Were Synchronized Swimmers,” is being commissioned by the Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA) and will build on her previous work. The artist will create a multimedia, immersive installation and performance that will transport viewers to the ocean floor of the Gulf of Mexico and other Southern waterways, while encountering an array of anthropomorphized sea life, the news release stated.

Fine’s work has been inspired by her own family history, but “When We Were Synchronized Swimmers” will depart from the more personal aspects of her past exhibits and explore land and water as major influences in the region.

“WMA provides opportunities for working artists to build new skills, connect with new audiences, and produce new work,” said Dana-Marie Lemmer, the museum’s executive director and curator. “This includes providing space for artists to exhibit their art, experiment and explore new ideas, and to work directly with our students and visitors. ASCA’s continued support of museum programs allows us to explore contemporary studio practices and to produce innovative educational programs, with artists at the core.”

The Out of the (Art) Box competition invites teams of students from Wiregrass high schools to create a unique, site-specific installation with limited supplies. Each team of four to six students must use their creative and critical-thinking skills to create an installation work, based on a theme given to them on the first day of competition. The students are paired with professional artist mentors who assist in the planning process for the installation, as well as consult on construction logistics.

The 2020 competition will occur Feb. 28-29 in the museum’s galleries before the opening of the annual Youth Art Month exhibition on March 3. Art Box installations will remain on view through March 28.

A portion of the grant money will be used to pay stipends for up to six professional artists who will work with the Art Box students.

“Artists provide unique insights and strategies to our educational mission and partner with WMA through several program areas each year.” Lemmer said. “It is important that the museum continue to be good stewards of our artist relationships by supporting their work, creatively and financially.”

Founded in 1988, the Wiregrass Museum of Art’s galleries are open to the public every Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. General admission is always free. Private tours with guided art activities in the studio can be arranged by appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays. For tour information, visit wiregrassmuseum.org/museum-tours.

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