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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

UM Professor Granted Visual Artist Fellowship

Mississippi Arts Commission recognizes creative contributions to state

Kariann Fuqua, instructional assistant professor in the Department of Art & Art History and director of museum studies at the University of Mississippi, is the recipient of a highly competitive artist fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the state’s official grants-making and service agency for the arts.

“The Mississippi Arts Commission seeks to serve as a catalyst for the arts and to celebrate creativity in the state of Mississippi,” said Michael Barnett, interim chair of art and art history.

“This important recognition of Kariann’s work through the awarding of the Visual Arts Fellowship speaks highly to the quality of the work that she does, its contribution to our state, and the value that she brings to the classroom in each interaction with our students.”

The MAC Fellowship honors Mississippi artists who demonstrate the ability to create exemplary work in their chosen field with $5,000 towards making new art.

“I am incredibly honored to have been selected for an Individual Visual Artist Fellowship by the Mississippi Arts Commission,” said Fuqua. 

“As one of only five fellowships given to visual artists in the state this year, I was truly stunned to receive the news. This grant will help support expanding my drawing practice into larger scale works with new materials as I prepare for upcoming exhibitions.”

Fuqua is an abstract artist utilizing drawing and painting to investigate the intersection of chaos and control. Her work is widely exhibited in solo and group shows across the United States including the Jenkins-Johnson Gallery in San Francisco, CA; Governors Island in New York, NY; Hyde Park Arts Center in Chicago, IL; Byron Cohen Gallery in Kansas City, MO; Manifest Gallery and Drawing Center in Cincinnati, OH; and Athens Institute of Contemporary Art in Athens, GA.  

“I create drawings and paintings, using space as metaphor to describe feelings of loss, longing, and uncertainty,” said Fuqua, who has a BFA in painting from Kansas State University and an MFA in painting from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “My work explores grief through an environmental lens, conjuring images of the sublime, where both the beautiful and the horrific converge. 

“Through abstraction, I investigate environmental and biological catastrophe, the basic mechanics of which are often unseen but threaten our very existence. On a microscopic level, biological phenomena necessary to sustain life are complex structures, and we only become aware of their disequilibrium as we approach the brink of disaster, whether by means of climate change, disease, or famine. The disruption of these systems by human interference or natural forces causes a chain reaction of devastation from which it is hard to recover.”

The recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center, she was awarded a public commission at McCormick Place in Chicago and her art was published in New American Paintings and the Artist’s Magazine.

Her work combines dissected photographs of the landscape with layered mark-making to generate imagined networks or systems.

“Edges, erasures, and value play critical roles in establishing a sense of collective force that embodies anxiousness and isolation,” Fuqua said. “I exploit this tension to evoke a reverence for the earth and the power of nature, while simultaneously responding to the feeling of helplessness as I observe the rapid pace of environmental destruction.”

Her project is supported in part by funding from MAC and the National Endowment for the Arts. MAC has awarded $1.65 million in funding to artists and arts programs across the state for the fiscal year 2023.