UNL and Bemis Center announce major new prize for MFA graduates

Bemis / UNL logos
Bemis / UNL logos

UNL and Bemis Center announce major new prize for MFA graduates

calendar icon28 Aug 2013    

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Department of Art and Art History and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha announced the inauguration of the Bemis Center Residency Prize for graduates from the UNL Master of Fine Arts program. The Residency Prize will be awarded annually to an outstanding MFA student graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. All third-year MFA students are eligible to apply for the Residency Prize. UNL art and art history faculty will nominate students for consideration; the Bemis Center will determine the recipient. The first award winner will be announced at the annual UNL Department of Art and Art History award ceremony at the end of March 2014.

Recipients of the UNL Master of Fine Arts degree study for three years under the University’s visual arts and art history faculty and graduate with an emphasis in one the following areas: ceramics, painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, graphic design, digital arts or a combination of two of these areas.

Recent graduates from both the MFA and BFA programs have been nationally recognized for their achievements as artists, underscoring the University’s exceptional art programs. Matthew Blache (MFA ’13) was recognized as part of the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards from the International Sculpture Center; Ying Zhu (MFA ’10) was selected for the Bemis Center’s international residency program in 2011; and Catherine Meier (BFA ’05) received a McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship to study at the Minneapolis College of Art And Design.

The Residency Prize will follow the same guidelines as the Bemis Center’s internationally-recognized Artist-in-Residence program, which provides critical time and support to outstanding artists working at the cutting-edge of contemporary practice. Jane Alexander, the former head of the National Endowment for the Arts, has called the Bemis Center "one of the great treasures of its kind in the country," and ArtInfo has recognized the Bemis Center as one of the "Top 10 residency programs around the globe." In a typical year, the Bemis Center can accept fewer than two percent of applicants to its residency program.

The Residency Prize will include:
• three months of uninterrupted, self-directed work time
• an opportunity to engage in extended dialogue with peers from around the world
• a large live/work studio with private kitchen and bathroom
• 24-hour access to facilities, including a wood shop, installation spaces and a 10,000 square foot sculpture facility
• a $750 monthly stipend and full staff support

Regarding the new partnership, Bemis Center Executive Director Adam Price said, “The Bemis Center, for all of its international success, has always been a Nebraska institution. It is therefore a great pleasure for myself, our staff, and the Board of Trustees to be able to demonstrate our support for emerging Nebraska artists by offering this new Residency Prize each year to an MFA graduate from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.”

UNL Assistant Professor of Practice in Art History Marissa Vigneault said, “We are incredibly fortunate to have the Bemis, an internationally recognized contemporary art center, only an hour from UNL’s campus, and our hope is that the establishment of the Residency Prize will further cement the connection between these two respected institutions. Both the Bemis Center and UNL support contemporary working artists and the Residency Prize is evidence of a continuing commitment to fostering creative production within the field. We offer our tremendous thanks to the Bemis for making this generous prize possible and for recognizing the outstanding capabilities and future potential of our graduate students.”

The recipient of the Residency Prize is expected to join the Bemis Center program within 12 months of selection. Representatives for the Bemis Center and UNL both expressed the hope that, over time, the new partnership will provide numerous opportunities for Nebraska artists to begin their professional lives by experiencing an unparalleled opportunity to focus on their work and to build relationships with other outstanding artists from around the globe.

For more information on the residency program, visit https://go.unl.edu/bemis.

For more information on the UNL Department of Art and Art History, visit https://art.unl.edu.