Clarksville, TN – CECA Tennessee Artist Fellow Benjy Russell will give a lecture exploring his work and creative practices on March 30th, 2021.
The lecture will be at 6:00pm via Zoom and is free and open to the public. Registration is required at this link.
The APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts (CECA) recently announced Russell from Dowelltown and Karen Seapker, from Donalson, as the 2020-21 recipients of the Tennessee Artist Fellowship. Seapker’s lecture was on March 18th.
CECA created its Tennessee Artist Fellowship to celebrate contemporary art and to support the continued creative work of exceptional Tennessee artists.
Unlike other fellowships, nominations and applications from artists are not solicited. A committee of APSU faculty compiles a list of outstanding artists from across the state and selects the fellowship recipient.
Through CECA’s generous support, the selected artists receive $5,000 to aid in the creation of new artwork and $1,000 for an artist lecture.
“Since Austin Peay State University is the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts for the entire state of Tennessee, we wanted to find a way to support artists statewide,” Barry Jones, dean of the College of Arts and Letters at APSU, said. “There is an incredible amount of amazing artists here, but unfortunately there isn’t much financial support for them. We hope that this fellowship helps a Tennessee artist maintain their practice and to know that we support what they are doing.”
A member of the selection committee added: “This year was a real treat as we were able to award an additional fellowship. And we are honored to award this fellowship to not one but two deserving Tennessee artists. We chose these artists as their works tackle very personal narratives that are exquisitely crafted. Beyond that, these are two generous artists that have used their artistic practice to build and give back to their respective artistic communities.”
About Benjy Russell
Russell is a Choctaw artist who grew up in Oklahoma and lives and works in Tennessee. His work finds its place at the intersection of philosophy, science, and art as a way to see the world “prismatically” and to unlearn harmful, antiquated social structures.
Living as a gay man in rural Tennessee, he has found a thriving diverse community of queer and trans people who serve as inspiration and collaborators. As an artist that has always looked to science fiction as a model for how we can shape the future we want, Russell creates a fictionalized version of the future he desires.
According to Russell, “Most of my work utilizes in-camera effects, using sculpture, studio lights and mirrors to allude to magical realism. By creating a physical moment of impossibility, I can hold it up to the rest of the world to show what else is possible. My work points to some of the joy inherent in this life, showing it to be as much of the present moment as it is of the future.”
The committee acknowledged: “Russell’s work is beautifully crafted and his constructed realities blend fantasy and science fiction with a true sense of personal investigation. It is Russell’s photographic vision and his building of an artistic community that is thriving to change the future – and his place in it – is what makes him deserving of this support.”
Russell’s work has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the country and in Berlin and has been written about in Voyage LA, Auture Magazine, Out & About Nashville, Oxford America, and LENSCRATCH.
Russell is the cofounder of Liberty Art Camp artist residency in Liberty, Tennessee. Liberty Art Camp has hosted over 30 national and international artists from England, Spain, Canada, New York City, and Los Angeles working in film, sculpture, performance, sound, photography, painting, and multidisciplinary practices.
Past recipients of the CECA Tennessee Artist Fellowship include Maysey Craddock of Memphis, Alicia Henry of Nashville, Andrew Scott Ross of Johnson City, Bryce McCloud of Nashville and Carl Moore of Memphis.
To learn more
To stay informed of upcoming CECA events, visit www.apsu.edu/ceca or follow CECA on social media.