Often characterized as “midcareer” awards, Guggenheim Fellowships are grants awarded to scholars, artists, and scientists who have produced exceptional scholarship or creative work. Powers, who studied Art History as an undergraudate at Vanderbilt University, is currently Assistant Professor of Sculpture at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The fellowship will allow Powers to take a year off from teaching to work in the studio.
“My work primarily takes the form of large kinetic sculpture, and it’s not uncommon that it can take a year to finish a single piece around all my other duties,” Powers said. “My proposal was simply for time to dedicate to my work. The main premise of my proposal was that I make large, complicated objects and was at a place in my career where I could benefit greatly from the time to focus on ambitious new works.”
“The Guggenheim is among the highest honors in the field, so being named as a fellow is simultaneously humbling and exhilarating. I could not be more excited,” he said.
Powers' work has been featured in The New York Times, World Sculpture News, Sculpture Magazine, Art Forum, The Huffington Post, Art in America, The Boston Globe and on CBS News Sunday Morning. He is also the recipient of the 2013 Virginia A. Groot Foundation Award, a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant as well as a Southeastern College Art Conference Individual Artist Fellowship, Alabama State Council on the Arts Fellowship, and the Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award.
In a press release, Guggenheim President Edward Hirsch praised the 2016 class of recipients: “These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best,” he said. “Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.” Since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted more than $334 million in fellowships to more than 18,000 individuals.