Atlanta artist in the running for a $25,000 cash award and residency

A metro Atlanta man is in the running for a $25,000 cash award and residency from the Atlanta-based South Arts organization.

Paul Stephen Benjamin is one of nine visual artists from the South who will, in addition to receiving a state fellowship award of $5,000, be considered for the "Southern Prize:" a $25,000 cash award and a two-week residency at the Hambidge Center in Rabun Gap, Georgia.

Benjamin is a sculptor, painter and video artist originally from Chicago who received his MFA from Georgia State University. His video installation "Black is the Color" was on display at the High Museum of Art in 2016.

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The winner, along with a $10,000 finalist award, will be announced at a ceremony in New Orleans on April 16. Artists living in South Arts’ nine-state region — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, were eligible to apply, and a winner was chosen from each state.

A panel of four jurors reviewed nearly 700 submissions with the only criterion of “artistic excellence” to determine the nine fellows, a press release said. A second panel of jurors is reviewing the fellows to determine the winner and finalist.

Susie Surkamer, executive director of South Arts, said the fellows “reflect the richly diverse arts and culture of our region, and each offers a distinct viewpoint with their work and background.”

The fellowship and prize program is in its second year. The awards are presented to the artists as unrestricted funds.

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