Hudgens Prize Finalists


Four Finalists have been named for the prestigious Hudgens Prize. All four artists will display their work in the Finalist’s Exhibition, scheduled for April 7 – June 27.

The Finalists are: Bethany Collins, Scott Ingram, Orion Wertz and Rylan Steele.

The $50,000 Hudgens Prize will be awarded by the jury panel based on in-person visits to the four Finalist’s studios and the works on view in the Hudgens Prize Finalist’s Exhibition. The prize winner will be announced at the Hudgens Prize Award Celebration, which will take place on Saturday, June 13. The Finalists will also offer Artists Talks at the Hudgens during the exhibition, to be scheduled soon.

The jury panel includes Shannon Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Rochester Art Center, Rochester, Minnesota; Buzz Spector, Professor of Art, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri; and Hamza Walker, Associate Curator, The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

All four artists will display their work in the Finalist’s Exhibition, scheduled for April 7 through June 27, and will receive a $1,500 cash stipend to help cover expenses relating to the exhibition. Angela Nichols, Director of Programming & Exhibits at the Hudgens, stated: “This has been an exciting process, and after working tirelessly for many months to bring the competition to this point, it is nice to finally be able to announce the Finalists.

The Hudgens Prize competition is one of the biggest and most exciting things that we do as an organization, and we’re so fortunate that we are able to offer this opportunity to Georgia artists.” “It has been really fun to be a ‘fly on the wall,’ observing the decision-making process of the jury panel. There were so many amazing artists that submitted works, and I certainly didn’t envy the jurors in the task that we gave them in choosing just four to be Finalists. Each of the Finalists is an accomplished, intelligent and thoughtful artist, and I’m looking forward to working with them to curate the Finalists Exhibition,” Nichols concluded.


Photo Credit: Joeff Davis

Bethany Collins was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1984. She holds an MFA from Georgia State University (2012) and a BA in Studio Art and Visual Journalism from the University of Alabama (2007). Her works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at notable venues throughout the United States, including the Studio Museum in Harlem, the High Museum of Art, and the Flint Institute of Arts. Collins was recently accepted into the Viewing Program at The Drawing Center in New York and was an Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem. She will soon begin residencies at the Bemis Center of Contemporary Art in Omaha, NE, the Fountainhead Residency in Miami, FL and The MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire.   Collins is a multi-media artist who focuses on dual perception and multiplicty in the seemingly binary. Her current language-based work, particularly her White Noise series, highlights the inability of language to fully capture notions of modern racial identity. Rather, text is hidden, revealed, allowed and humored, but rarely settled.

Southern Review, 1987


Artist’s Statement:

I am interested in the unnerving possibility of multiple meanings, dual perceptions, and limitlessness in the seemingly binary. Drawing repeatedly allows me to fully understand objects in space, while defining and redefining my own racial landscape. for me, racial identity has neither been instantly formed nor conjured in isolation. Rather, identity entangles memory: actual and revisited, cultural and historical, individual and collective. Through the dissolution of dichotomies and exploration of language, this work recalls moments in the formation of my racial identity as Black and Biracial. And each re-worked mark is yet another attempt to navigate the binary paradigm of race in the American South by grasping invisible limitations and grounding myself within the collective African American visual narrative. White Noise, my language-based series, begins with unsettling statements or probing questions and eventually ends with equally unsettled compositions of chalk on chalkboard. Through a slow and tediously deconstructive process, the resulting textual forms resemble the destructive path of a bomb, a cloud of hovering chalk dust, an astrological occurrence, or possibly a field of white noise. As with my entire body of work, White Noise continues to evoke a longing for what author Rebecca Walker refers to in her autobiography as “a memory that can remind me at all times of who I definitely am…the black outline around my body that everyone else seems to have.”

Scott Ingram

photo credit: Fredrik Brauer


Scott Ingram was born in Drumright, Oklahoma in 1968.  Growing up in the Midwest, he was heavily influenced by Chicago’s modern architecture and developed an in-depth understanding of contemporary art within the context of architecture while working at the Des Moines Art Center and the High Museum of Art.   Ingram’s work reflects the intersection of art and architecture with human environments. Based in an American aesthetic, his work includes paintings, drawings, sculpture, wall constructions and photography as well as functional objects.  Ingram has been exhibiting for more than 18 years and has been included in exhibitions around the United States as well as Spain and Canada and his work has been reviewed nationally in Art in America and Art Papers. Most recently he exhibited at The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta, GA; Solomon Projects, and Emily Amy Gallery, Atlanta, GA; Anna Kustera Gallery, New York City, NY; Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL; Auburn University, Auburn, AL; and the New Art Dealers Alliance Art Fair during Miami Basel, Miami Beach, FL.  Scott is a MacDowell Fellow and a recipient of the 2014 Working Artists Prize from MOCA GA. His work is in numerous private and corporate collections, including the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA and The Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia.  Ingram lives and works in Atlanta, GA.

Scott Ingram, Float (NADA Miami)

Float was an installation developed for the NADA Art Fair in Miami in 2012. I cast the flexible urethane foam blocks in silicone molds from actual cinder blocks to create as realistic a faux block as possible. The dye concentration is mixed to create an exact match to actual cinderblocks. The blocks were presented for most of the fair as a misplaced pallet of construction materials left near an entrance. I then casually pulled the blocks through the fair with a pallet jack to the hotel pool where they were nonchalantly tossed into the pool during a party where they floated exposing the joke of the whole installation.


Artist Statement:

I’ve lived in Atlanta for 20 years, and in that time I have witnessed every single structure that I have called home change. My first apartment is now a Whole Foods, the mid century townhouse was razed for a new generic apartment complex. The last two homes, in historic neighborhoods, have been completely renovated. Often referred to as a “fluid” city, Atlanta has a great irreverence for its own history.

My work sits in a space somewhere between documentation, conceptualism, and Abstract Representation. The built environment is the inspiration for much of my work. What started as a fascination with architecture and architectural form has expanded into a curiosity about building materials. My practice is fluid. I move easily between more “traditional” art forms — painting, drawing, sculpture – and photography, video, and installation. In the past couple of years I have begun to expand my practice to include art in the public realm.

My interest in architecture, and modern architecture in particular, stems from the discipline’s attention to material especially the move from traditional building materials like wood and brick to non-traditional materials such as glass and steel. My own work references these modern building materials but does so by subverting them. So my I-beams are made of wood not steel, sheetrock paintings are all paint, and cinderblocks are made of foam, weigh a fraction of the original, and even float.

My work is full of references whether from pop culture, design, architecture, or art history and I typically mix and match the sources. I often try to insert humor into my work by re-contextualizing familiar, everyday materials in new interesting ways. The built environment is a rich source of material and its something everyone is familiar with, so the challenge becomes taking the expected and making it unexpected. And it is that challenge that is ultimately driving much of my work.

My work also comments on the built environment, its ephemerality, and the impact of Man and his policies, politics, and polemics. For all of the strength engineered into buildings, they are quite fragile and it is this dual nature that often provides context for my work.!art/c2414

Orion Wetz

Orion Wertz

Biographical Statement

I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. My childhood impressions of western Pennsylvania industrialism have strongly affected the imagery I produce, as have the perpetually gray skies of that region. Drawing has always been a love of mine from a very young age. Going to college to study art was a natural decision, and I was lucky to meet other motivated young artists. Together we exhibited wherever we could, and took frequent trips to New York and other cities to educate ourselves about contemporary art.


After attending art school in Pennsylvania, I moved on to complete my Masters of Fine Arts in Painting at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. In addition to my degree studies, I began looking seriously at film and studying the graphic novel as a genre during this time. I traveled to Europe where I was privileged to visit the Louvre and many other museums. While in the Midwest I was able to exhibit paintings frequently and publish several features in art journals. After completing my degree I taught adjunct for one year at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

My wife and I moved to New York City in the summer of 2001 where I worked as an art handler for about two years. In 2003 I accepted a position at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA where I have remained since teaching painting, drawing and various related subjects.

Much of my artistic practice has involved ephemeral drawing installations and the production of graphic novels. I have lectured at national conferences on topics from the practice of drawing and writing graphic novels to the neurophysiology of imagination. In a 2013 exhibition at Auburn University I exhibited a new body of paintings that are the result of many years of research into historical techniques.

Untitled Portrait

Statement of Intent

Why do we enjoy imagining the end of the world?  How do we read trash?  How do we project ourselves into the worlds we fantasize about?  These are some of the questions that fascinate me, and which have driven my explorations in painting and drawing.

I am developing a mythology suitable to a consumerist era.  With this recent body of work, I have pursued this goal by borrowing visual idioms from early renaissance panel painting and combining them with idioms common in video game renderings of figures and landscapes.  Themes of desire and apathy compete with each other as I attempt to define something sublime.

I have been inspired by Renaissance painters such as Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Altdorfer and Andrea Mantegna. My childhood memories of the industrial landscape of Pittsburgh combine with synthetic landscapes (such as the virtual Washington DC in the videogame Fallout 3) to inform my construction of settings. To my eye both figurative and scenic construction in contemporary video gaming bear strong similarities to the imagined worlds created by the painters I admire. Pictorially, I work as much as possible from memory and imagination, striving to achieve an internal consistency that is unnatural and arresting. I employ oil paint in a glassy mimicry of historic mische technique, or alternately use the ashen and ephemeral washes of sumi ink.

In many eras of western painting we can confront the sublime through artists’ considerations of natural and divine phenomena. These phenomena were alternately beautiful or frightening, sometimes both, and always beyond our control. Today the sublime involves human-made phenomena that seem also to be out of our control: trash landscapes, altered bodies, virtual surrogates for individuals and landscapes alike. Our contemporary sublime perceptually flickers back and forth between the natural and the synthetic. I am interested in how the historic crafts of painting and drawing can be applied to these new conditions.

Rylan Steele

Ryan Steele

Rylan Steele is an established artist teaching as a tenure track faculty in photography at Columbus State University. Rylan received an A.S. in Photographic Technology from the Southeastern Center for Photographic Studies at DBCC, a B.F.A. in Photography from Florida International University and a M.F.A in Photography from the University of Georgia. Rylan has exhibited photographs in numerous exhibition spaces over the last few years, both regionally and nationally. His work has been included in exhibitions at the Houston Center for Photography, the Light Factory in Charlotte, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Detroit Center for Photography. Mostly recently, he installed a solo exhibition of his series Ave Maria at George Mason University and was included in Southern Exposure: Photographs From the Do Good Fund Collection at the Lagrange Museum.

In the past few years his work has appeared in traditional and online publications, including Fraction, Oneonethousand, Wired, the Oxford American, and Newsweek. Rylan has participated in artist residencies at The Atlantic Center for the Arts, with master artist Thomas Struth and the Hungarian Multicultural Foundation in Budapest. Additionally, he has been active in photography portfolio review events including FotoFest in Houston, PhotoNola in New Orleans and most recently secured a position at the 2015 Photolucida reviews in Portland, Oregon. Currently, Rylan is currently working on a new group of photographs that explore Ave Maria, a catholic inspired community in a remote area of southern Florida. These photographs are an investigation of the infrastructure that supports the founders’ utopian vision.


Oratory Interior, Ave Maria, Florida

Project Statement, Ave Maria

This body of work is an investigation of Ave Maria, a catholic inspired community that was built in southern Florida. Florida has a complicated history that includes the nations oldest city, Saint Augustine, artificial realities like Disney World, and Seaside, which is one of the most studied contemporary master planned communities. Ave Maria was established in 2007, by Tom Monaghan, founder of Dominoes Pizza, as a place that offers “the best of both worlds — the great quality of life of Naples and a new dynamic Catholic and educational community.”

Ave Maria is not a gated community, but it does exist in a remote location primarily bordered by rural communities and wildlife conversation areas. I am interested in the infrastructure that supports the founders’ utopian vision. As all utopias, what currently exists is not what was intended. Many aspects of this place and the residents might be easy to ridicule, that is not my intention. My interests remain in looking at the place, to observe how the community develops following its artificial creation.

The town of Ave Maria was designed around a Catholic Oratory and Ave Maria University, a small Catholic liberal arts college that was relocated from Ypsilanti, Michigan. In addition to its Catholic principles, Ave Maria was marketed as a small town destination for families and a paradise for retirees wanting to take advantage of the great weather. Possibly due to the economic collapse, there is a lower than expected population of the community and the university. Ave Maria continues to grow at a slow pace and it is unclear how, or if, the community will be able to succeed.

I was drawn to photograph Ave Maria because of my ongoing interest in how community is defined in contemporary society. I grew up in Florida and I am fascinated by the landscape, not living there has made it possible for me to photograph it. I find it curious that someone would build a community that is philosophically and geographically isolated from most of the population, but I appreciate his commitment and his hope that people will want to live in the place he created.