Professor Craig Wedderspoon is one of three inaugural recipients of the new McMahon-Pleiad Prize, given by the Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama System. The prize has been awarded to a collaborative public art project, the UA System Art Trail, conceived by Wedderspoon and his colleagues Stacey Holloway of UAB’s department of art and art history and Chris Taylor of UAH’s department of art, art history, and design.
Established by the Board to honor Trustee Emeritus John J. McMahon, Jr., the McMahon-Pleiad Prize advances collaboration in the UA System, consistent with the vision and leadership of Trustee Emeritus McMahon. The Prize includes a $75,000 one-time award, underwritten by the McMahon family, which will be shared equally among the three UA System art departments to cover the cost of project materials and related expenses.
At each of the three UA System campuses, each group will design and create a durable, well-crafted public sculpture that enhances the visual aesthetic of each campus. The three outdoor pieces will rotate every two years, then return to their originating campus for permanent installation. Each team plans to unveil the sculptures before June 2019.
According to UA News Center, a primary goal of the public art trail is to create opportunities for faculty and students in all three System art departments to discuss, develop and install projects collaboratively. Students will be able to share their designs with new and expanded audiences. According to the proposal, which was chosen from more than a dozen entries, “The McMahon-Pleiad Public Art Trail has the potential to visually enhance the entire UA System with an innovative, world-class public art program.”
Professor Wedderspoon described the project’s progress on UA’s campus so far: “I put it out to my sculpture students as a design competition and junior BFA sculpture major Ringo Lisko’s proposal has been chosen. She has just started working on the wax for a scale model. Next she will get to work on the full-scale piece.”
Board president pro tem Ronald Gray described the public art trail project: “It represents the essence of collaboration and creative excellence that defines our friend and colleague John McMahon and our System.”
For more information about the UA Department of Art and Art History and our programs, go here: https://art.ua.edu/about/