Local artist receives state arts council fellowship grant

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, July 4, 2013

Walter Black, a Troy-based professional ceramist, has received a Craft Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA). The visual arts grant is in the amount of $5,000.

Black said that he is honored by the fellowship award.

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“I know there were many worthy applicants, and it is humbling to think the council felt confident enough in my work to award me the fellowship,” Black said. “I was surprised to receive the call from Elliot Knight from the Alabama State Arts Council about the award.”

Black will use the grant funds to further his artistic career.

“I plan to expand my studio capabilities to work with new mediums,” he said. “This, in turn, will allow me to be more innovative with materials in my pieces of artwork.

“I look forward to incorporating steel, wood and other fabrications into my ceramic pieces.”

Black is the exhibitions coordinator at the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy.

Morgan Drinkard, Center executive director, said all of those associated with the art center are excited about the grant award.

“Even though it’s a personal award and has no connection to the Johnson Center, it reaffirms that we have an incredible artist on staff,” Drinkard said. “We think Walter is an outstanding artist. The community thinks he is an outstanding artist. The State Arts Council has affirmed his talents. Walter is very deserving of this fellowship and we are proud for him.”

At its June meeting in Montgomery, the ASCA awarded 15 fellowship grants which are based on merit of work, career achievement, career potential and service to the state.

Jim Harrison III, chairman of the council, said funds were very limited for FY 2014 projects and the competition for grants funds was challenging.

“Fellowships are the most prestigious grants awarded to individuals by ASCA,” Harrison said. “These awards recognize artistic excellence as well as professional commitment and maturity.”

Recipients may use the funds to set aside time to create art, improve their skills or to do what is most advantageous to enhance their artistic careers.

“I was extremely proud of Walter because I am in the middle of my second fellowship, and for Walter to get his first this early in his career is really exceptional,” said Larry Percy, one of Black’s art instructors at Troy University. “These are highly sought after awards. I told him that is the greatest complement a student can give to a teacher: to excel to the greatest heights and surpass them in creating their own artistic identity. That is what made our back to back artist fellowship awards so special.”