On November 25, the Award Winners Exhibition debuted in National Sculpture Society’s gallery. The 15 prize winners were selected from the 55 works on display during NSS’ 86th Annual Awards Exhibition at Brookgreen Gardens from early August through late October.
A Jury of Awards, composed of at least two sculptors and a curator, convened at Brookgreen Gardens in early October to decide the prize recipients. This year the jury included Rick Reinart, Owner, Reinert Fine Art Gallery; Bart Walter, Sculptor and Fellow of NSS; and Basil Watson, Sculptor.
The top honor, the Gold Medal & Charlotte Geffken Prize, went to New York artist, Leslie Stefanson. A former actress, Stefanson, studied anatomy and figure sculpture under Robert Cunningham, stone carving at Otis Art School, and écorché and life drawing at Los Angeles Art College. This is Stefanson’s first show with National Sculpture Society.
The nearly 10-foot long piece is composed of 11 individual rectangular bronze elements measuring 6″ x 3.5″ each and is peopled with small figures in different poses. “La Bestia is the colloquial name for a network of freight trains that wind their way up through Mexico to the southern border of the United States,” says Stefanson. “These trains offer refugees, migrants and asylum seekers an expedited form of transport for the 1,450-mile journey through Mexico and yet riding these trains is extremely perilous and often fatal. La Bestia is one of ten sculptures in a series exploring refugee migration around the world. With over 70 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, we are experiencing the largest refugee crisis in history.”
The Silver Medal and Maurice B. Hexter Prize was given to Brittany Ryan. The California sculptor, who recently won a top prize in National Sculpture Society’s Richard McDermott Miller Sculpture Competition, is a faculty and department coordinator at Laguna College of Art and Design. “In the execution of my work, I strive for balance between an entirely modern aesthetic that would prevent the work from feeling timeless, and an entirely classical one that might make it unrelatable. These figures are contemporary and specific, not idealized, not without identity. I am looking for a space somewhere between narrative and poetry for them to inhabit. I want the viewer to relate deeply to the power and intent of the figures, to care about where they are going, to feel what motivates them.”
And rounding out the top three honors, Manuel Ferreiro Badia was awarded the Bronze Medal and John Cavanaugh Memorial Prize. The artist who hails from Galicia, in northern Spain, has sculpture in several museum collections including the National Sculpture Museum in Valladolid, Spain and the MAC Contemporary Art Museum, A Coruna, Spain . Badia is proficient in monumental and medallic sculpture and has works installed around Spain and is both a member of the American Numismatic Association and FIDEM (Fédération Internationale de la Médaille d’Art). As with many of his sculptures, for Dance, Badia sought the figure schematically through “the purity of lines and surfaces and [the] conciseness” of the stone.
Other award-winning artists include Paige Bradley, Eugene Daub, Jay F. Goldstein, Michael Aaron Hall, Walter Matia, Dora Natella, Ken Newman, Mardie Rees, Stephen Saxenian, Garland Weeks, Dale Weiler and Jeremiah D. Welsh.
The Award Winners Exhibition runs from November 25, 2019 through January 31, 2020 at National Sculpture Society’s NYC gallery.
NSS Gold Medal and Charlotte Geffken Prize of $4,000
La Bestia by Leslie Stefanson
NSS Silver Medal and Maurice B. Hexter Prize of $3,000
Little Swimmer by Brittany Ryan
NSS Bronze Medal and John Cavanaugh Memorial Prize of $2,000
Dance by Manuel Ferreiro Badia
The Anna Hyatt Huntington Award of $1,000 and a Brookgreen Medal
Stilts by Jay F. Goldstein, FNSS
Fred and Cheryl Newby Patrons Award of $1,000
Enigma by Dale Weiler, NSS
Marcel Jovine President’s Prize of $1,000
Northern Torsion, Pike and Bull by Jeremiah D. Welsh, NSS
Marilyn Newmark Memorial Award of $1,000
Hrand Saxenian by Stephen Saxenian
The Susan and Robert Polack Prize of $1,000
Martin Luther King, Jr. The Night Before the ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech by Michael Aaron Hall, NSS
Marion and Gilbert Roller Memorial Prize of $1,000
Balance of Nature V: Box Turtle with Lizard by Garland Weeks, FNSS
Pietro and Alfrieda Montana Memorial Prize of $750
Into the Light by Paige Bradley, FNSS
Agop Agopoff Memorial Prize of $500
Calliope by Dora Natella, FNSS
Jane B. Armstrong Memorial Award of $400
No Country for Old Frogs by Walter Matia, FNSS
Margaret Hexter Prize of $300
Mischief and Plunder – Magpies by Ken Newman, NSS
Edith H. and Richman Proskauer Prize of $300
Joe Hill: The Man Who Never Died by Eugene Daub, FNSS
Beverly Hoyt Robertson Memorial Award of $200 and Gloria Medal
Wholehearted by Mardie Rees, NSS