Alumnus Paul Stephen Benjamin Receives Hudgens Prize

The Hudgens Prize is one of the largest awards given to an individual artist in the United States. Each year, a fifty-thousand dollar grant and a solo exhibition is awarded to a Georgia-based artist with the hopes it will elevate the arts in the state and offer a transformational opportunity to one Georgia artist. It is with great excitement that the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design and College of the Arts take the opportunity to congratulate alumnus, Paul Stephen Benjamin (M.F.A. ’13) as the recipient of the prestigious 2019 Hudgens Prize. 

Benjamin graduated from the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University with a masters concentration in sculpture. Since graduation, the artist has received the Artadia Award (2014), had installations featured at the High Museum of Art (2016), received  the Working Artist Program grant with a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (2017), exhibited at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, received the the Southern Prize (2018), and was included in the well-reviewed group show, “Fictions,” at the Studio Museum in Harlem. His work has been positively reviewed in publications around the country including ART PAPERS, Hyperallergic, and ARTFORUM. Most recently, he was awarded an artist grant by the Joan Mitchell Foundation, one week before the Hudgens Prize announcement. 

“It wasn’t too long ago that Benjamin was part of our graduate program. It’s incredible to see the trajectory his career has taken and the great number of institutions and fellowships that have acknowledged his hardwork and talent,” said Joseph Peragine, director of the School of Art & Design. “We are honored we had the opportunity to support him the three years he was in our program.”

The work of Benjamin underlines the nuances, celebrates the beauty, and examines the cultural and political significance of the color black. His materials range from industry-grade wall paint, to black-dyed flags, to shattered glass but his practice also encpompasses video, installation, and performance. His work “frames protest and patriotism side by side.” The number of awards, grants, and exhibitions extended to him in the past decade demonstrates the salience of his concepts and popularity for their execution. While the conversations sparked by his practice are discussed with great weight, the visuals of his pieces simply awe. 

“I am greatly honored to have received both the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant and the Hudgens Prize.” Benjamin shared with COTA, “Each award affords me the opportunity to push my work to another level.  The financial support will allow me to acquire the materials and resources needed to execute my artistic vision.”

In the nine years since the Hudgens Prize was established, Benjamin is the third Georgia State-affiliated artist of five artists to have received this prize, following faculty Pam Longobardi and alumna Bethany Collins. Current faculty, Darien Arikoski-Johnson was also a finalist for the 2019-2020 award year. He will have a solo exhibition in The Hudgens Center for Art & Learning galleries from August-October 2020.

Benjamin’s work is currently on view at Institute for Contemporary Art, Richmond, VA; The MAC in Belfast Ireland; The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta; The Temporary Art Center, Atlanta; and will be on view at the Crystal Bridges Museum, AK, for the State of the Arts exhibition in February 2020.