One Atlanta artist has just received a boost to his practice: This week, South Arts, which highlights and supports artists working in the Southeast, named Masud Olufani as one of their 2017 State Fellows. Olufani was chosen to represent Georgia in this honor, and is one of nine artists in the region to receive this fellowship.
This is the inaugural year for the fellowship. South Arts established it hoping to impact the careers of visual artists in the nine-state Southeast region they serve. Each artist will receive $5,000. Fellowship recipients will also compete for the South Arts Southern Prize of $25,000 and a two-week residency at The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences. One finalist will also be awarded a $10,000 prize.
Olufani’s work uses sculpture and mixed media to explore ideas about history and race.
“I grew up in the North,” he explains. “I spent a lot of time reading. So the whole idea of the narrative became very important to me, and it found its way into how I express myself artistically. So my artwork comes out of that tradition of the narrative, of telling a story.”
Olufani, who is also a professional actor, sees the fellowship as a way to expand his platform and reach a wider audience.
“It’s very humbling to feel that what you do can have an impact on people’s lives," he says. "In a larger context, it’s about how my example and the work that I produce can serve the larger community. So it’s very moving for me to have that opportunity.”
The awardees of the 2017 South Arts State Fellows will be honored at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center on April 24. The Southern Prize winner and finalist will also be announced.