Friday, August 26, 2011

Q&A with WAP Winner Micah Stansell

What would you like people to know about your WAP exhibition The Water and The Blood at MOCA GA?

I’d like for people to know that it is a multi-channel video and sound installation with some very analogue elements of interactivity. My hope is that it is an experiential exhibition.

You seem to be working in the idioms of the rural south -- is this a correct assessment?

Yes, I think that is a mostly fair assessment. This is a visual language I am certainly familiar with, and my interest in specific elements of this culture has been heightened by the subject matter I’m dealing with in this work. I am using this specific language to explore universal themes. This is something we have a great tradition of here in the south; using imagistic stories to pass histories or ideas along.

I understand there are some autobiographical references -- could you talk about this?

The genesis of the work is a family story, and that story makes up the core narrative event, but most of the elements surrounding this core event have been imagined, or pieced together from remembrances of hearing the story told. The event did take place in the rural south. The work is as much about the idea of remembering, and imagining, and seeing as it is about any single event. To that end, I like to maintain a level of openness to the narrative that will allow a viewer to access the work in their own way, and bring their own context to bear on the reading of the intentionally spare narrative.

The Water and The Blood is an interesting title -- what can you tell me about it?

I hope that the title both informs and is informed by the work, and as the work is viewed, varied readings will be uncovered. The title refers to water as a life giving liquid, and there is a very literal “water” component within the installation. Blood too is this essential liquid that carries with it ideas of family or kinship.

What can you tell me about the WAP award -- what has been your experience?

Winning the WAP award has been a great experience. It has really fostered a sense of community amongst the past and present winners, and introduced me to some work and artists that I wasn’t familiar with before winning the award. It has also been incredible to have assistants working on the project with me. Making moving image work is a pretty labor intensive process that takes a lot of people, so the assistants provided with the award have been indispensable. It’s also great to have funding for the project. In addition to being labor intensive, the kind of work I do is also quite expensive, so having the money in place has been a great help.


Micah Stansell is an Atlanta-based video/filmmaker and installation artist. He received an MFA in Digital Filmmaking from Georgia State University. His work has screened in galleries and film festivals across the Unites States and as far away as Beijing, China. Stansell has also worked as a cinematographer with artists on projects and installations that have been exhibited locally and internationally. A multi-channel video installation entitled Presynaptic Potential was shown at Le Flash Atlanta 2009 and at MOCA GA in 2010. A multi-screen installation called Between You and Me was featured as the centerpiece of Atlanta’s FLUX 2010. Stansell has received several awards for his work, and has been featured in numerous film festivals, including, the Atlanta Film Festival, Next-Frame Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, and the Austin Film Festival. The artist says of his work, “Most of my work is structured around ideas of relationships or pairings (such as memory/history, man/woman, urban/rural, past/present)…how these pairings are simultaneously opposite and complement. But there is also a narrative…and exploration of the vestiges of interpersonal interaction in a technologically mediated world”. WAP Studio Assistants: Stephen Calsbeek & Chris Escobar.


The Working Artist Project is an award program that was developed by The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia and funded with a major grant from The Charles Loridans Foundation with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Project was designed to support established visual artists of merit who reside in the Atlanta metropolitan area. This initiative provides an unparalleled level of support for individual artists, expands the Museum's mission, and promotes Atlanta as a city where artists can live, work, and thrive. Each year, MOCA GA selects three visual artists to receive the Award. Among the city's best and brightest, these artists are supported with an exhibition, promotion, a studio assistant, and a major stipend to create work over the course of the year.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

MOCA GA Receives $24,000 grant from the NEA to support The MOCA GA Working Artist Project


Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, has announced that The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) has been awarded a grant of $24,000 to support the Working Artist Project, a one year artist-in-residency program that provides established Georgia artists with a stipend, a studio assistant, an exhibition and a full-color catalogue. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) is one of 1,145 not-for-profit national, regional, state, and local organizations recommended for a grant as part of the federal agency’s second round of fiscal year 2011 grants. In total, the Arts Endowment will distribute more than $88 million to support projects nationwide.


The NEA was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “NEA research shows that three out of four Americans participate in the arts. The diverse, innovative, and exceptional projects funded in this round will ensure that Americans around the country continue to have the opportunity to experience and participate in the arts.” To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at


The Working Artist Project is a year-long program that supports metropolitan Atlanta visual artists, expands the museum’s mission, and strengthens the arts and cultural component of Atlanta. Each funded year, MOCA GA holds a metro-wide competition to select three working artists based on their talent, professionalism, and their proven ability to complete the project. Representing our city’s best and brightest; these artists are supported with a solo exhibition, promotion, a studio assistant, catalogue, and a major stipend to create work over the course of the year. The Project encourages artists from Atlanta and other cities to see our city as a viable destination in which their careers can thrive. At the same time, the Project will help raise the recognition of metropolitan Atlanta as a major center for contemporary art. This program is supported by a major grant from The Charles Loridans Foundation with additional support provided by the NEA in the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 project years.

Annette Cone-Skelton, Director of MOCA GA, states, “The continued support of the National Endowment for the Arts is allowing the museum to further its mission of supporting our local arts community. Now in its fourth year of funding, the Working Artists Project was developed in response to the great loss of some of Atlanta’s most talented artists to cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. As a museum that is dedicated first and foremost to supporting Georgia’s contemporary artists, it is our goal to encourage these artists to remain in our city, establishing Atlanta as one of the best cities for launching a viable career in the arts.”

The 2011/2012 Working Artist Project winners are: Brian Dettmer, Gregor Turk and Martha Whittington. Dettmer originally from Chicago, lives and works in Atlanta. His work has gained international acclaim through internet bloggers, and traditional media. Dettmer’s work is shown and collected throughout the U.S., Latin America and Europe and can be found in several museum exhibitions, public and private collections. Turk, an Atlanta native, utilizes a variety of media, typically incorporating mapping imagery. He has completed several public art commissions including permanent installations at two international airports and a series of outdoor sculptures at a fire station. Whittington is an Atlanta-based sculptor and educator born in Gainesville, Florida. Much of her work involves small objects, multiplied many times in controlled, site-specific arrangements. Whittington’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. She is also a professor of foundations studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. This year, Michael Rooks, Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the High Museum of Art served as the guest juror for the 2011/2012 awards.


The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) collects and archives significant, contemporary works by the artists of the state of Georgia. To place its artists in a broader context, the Museum's exhibitions include Georgia artists and artists from around the world. MOCA GA’s programs promote the visual arts by creating a forum for active interchange between artists and the community. MOCA GA is located at 75 Bennett Street in the TULA Art Center. Admission is free to members, $5 for non-members and $1 for students. Admission to MOCA GA is free 10am – 5pm every Thursday. On the First Thursday of each month, MOCA GA stays open until 9 p.m. and admission is free all day. For more information, call 404-367-8700, visit or email Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. -5 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday.