National Sculpture Society is pleased to present the 87th Annual Award Winners Exhibition. The show will be on view in NSS’ New York City gallery from November 30, 2020 through February 5, 2021. The 15 prize winners were selected from the 28 works that were on display during NSS’ 87th Annual Awards Exhibition at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina from early August through late October.
A Jury of Awards convened at Brookgreen Gardens in August to decide the prize recipients. This year the jury included James Arendt, Director, Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery/Associate Professor, Coastal Carolina University; Paul Rhymer, Sculptor and Fellow of National Sculpture Society; and Logan Woodle, Sculptor and Assistant Professor of Sculpture, Coastal Carolina University. In May, the Jury of Selection chose the 28 works from the 460 entries and included John Coleman, Sculptor and NSS Fellow; Bruce Gagnier, Sculptor and New York Studio School Instructor; and Peter Trippi, Editor in Chief, Fine Art Connoisseur. The Jury of Selection and Jury of Awards play important roles in the annual exhibition and each jury is comprised of two sculptors and one curator.
The top honor, the Gold Medal & Charlotte Geffken Prize, went to California artist, Brittany Ryan for her painted resin piece, Midwest Mermaid. In 2019, the Laguna Beach artist won second prize in National Sculpture Society’s Richard McDermott Miller Sculpture Competition and took home the Silver Medal and Maurice B. Hexter Prize at the 86th Annual Awards Exhibition. She is a faculty and department coordinator at Laguna College of Art and Design and just this fall became an Elected Member of NSS. “Midwest Mermaid, along with the other sculptures in this body of work, investigates the beauty of people in transition from childhood to adulthood, as one becomes socially aware of the judgement of others and finding a place in a social group,” says Ryan. “These figures are contemporary and specific, not idealized, not without identity. She is looking for a space somewhere between narrative and poetry for them to inhabit. These works examine the idea story and character- giving them a specificity of portrait, clothing and shape which imbues them with a force of will; putting them beyond the judgment placed upon common representations of sexuality and beauty.”
The Silver Medal and Maurice B. Hexter Prize was given to Roger Martin. The North Carolina native was a taxidermist before turning his attention to fine art. His animal sculptures are included in several public collections around the country and in the permanent collection of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI. In 2018 Martin was the Kayamoja Wildlife Arts of the Year at the Kayamoja International Wildlife Art Exhibition in Windhoek, Namibia, Africa. As for as his fantastical depiction of a female rabbit standing on the back of a wild boar, Martin did not have to travel far for inspiration. “What started as a conversation with my wife about why I needed to purchase a ham for the upcoming family Easter gathering, quickly turned into a google search about why Christians eat ham at Easter,” explains Martin. “In a matter of seconds, I am immersed in Babylonian mythology, rabbits, Ishtar the goddess of love and fertility, colored eggs and in minutes my head was swirling with an amazing collage of images…”
And rounding out the top three honors, Abrahamyan Gegham was awarded the Bronze Medal and John Cavanaugh Memorial Prize. The artist who hails from Armenia, studied at the Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts before immigrating to the United States in 2017. Now settled in Seattle, WA, Abrahamyan has quickly established himself as a sculptor in the northwest art community. This past year, he won the Bleifeld Memorial Grant from NSS; an annual prize named in honor of former NSS President and Fellow, Stanley Bleifeld (1924-2011) and given to a sculptor whose body of work is inspired by nature. Abrahamyan’s own sculpture focuses on the trials and tribulations that come from simply being human. “My inspiration is the heroic nature of the human condition. I believe that every person becomes a hero at least once during his or her lifetime, and that that moment is one of pure greatness,” states Abrahamyan. “Even if it is only a drop in the ocean, it is a drop of utter humanity. I truly believe that artwork can have a profound message and can remind a person about his or her strength and potential.”
15 Prize Winners in the 87th Annual Award Winners Exhibition:
NSS Gold Medal and Charlotte Geffken Prize of $4,000 – Midwest Mermaid by Brittany Ryan, NSS
NSS Silver Medal and Maurice B. Hexter Prize of $3,000 – Easter Parade by Roger Martin, FNSS
NSS Bronze Medal and John Cavanaugh Memorial Prize of $2,000 – The Chosen by Gegham Abrahamyan
The Anna Hyatt Huntington Award of $1,000 and a Brookgreen Medal – Cormorant and Moon Jellyfish
by Jeremiah D. Welsh, FNSS
Fred and Cheryl Newby Patrons Award of $1,000 – Adam by Ezra Bookstein
Marcel Jovine President’s Prize of $1,000 – Flightless Tondo by Sandy Scott, FNSS
Marilyn Newmark Memorial Award of $1,000 – Hevel by Joshua Koffman, NSS
The Susan and Robert Polack Prize of $1,000 – Nine Muses by Dave LaMure, Jr.
Marion and Gilbert Roller Memorial Prize of $1,000 – Reclining Nude by Mick Doellinger, NSS
Pietro and Alfrieda Montana Memorial Prize of $750 – Sacred Messenger by Martin Gates, NSS
Agop Agopoff Memorial Prize of $500 – Harriet Tubman – The Journey to Freedom by Wesley Wofford, FNSS
Jane B. Armstrong Memorial Award of $400 – Butterfly by LeaAnn Cogswell, FNSS
Margaret Hexter Prize of $300 – The Sandman by Steven Alden Carpenter
Edith H. and Richman Proskauer Prize of $300 – The Listener by Janice Mauro, FNSS
Beverly Hoyt Robertson Memorial Award of $200 and Gloria Medal – Dreamer by Kevin Chambers, NSS