Jeff Whetstone, a photographer from Durham, N.C., has been awarded the Factor Prize. The award, in the amount of $10,000, is the first time the Gibbes Museum of Art has awarded the prize. The prize acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates a high level of achievement in any media while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. Whetstone was among seven finalists, including such well-known artists as Radcliffe Bailey, William Christenberry, and Philip Simmons. The above photo, titled “Self Portrait with Fish,” is from his series New Wilderness.”

“We chose Jeff Whetstone from among the seven short listed artists for his multivalent engagement with the Southern experience in both the human and natural realms,” said Todd Smith, former director of the Gibbes who administered the selection process, in a press release. “In his New Wilderness series, Jeff makes sense of that liminal space in our modern world between society and nature. The wilderness of the region that he seeks to portray is oddly familiar in its trappings yet eerily foreign in its presentation.”

Whetstone currently teaches art as the UNC-Chapel Hill. He was born in Chattanooga and received a zoology degree from Duke University in 1990. He went to Yale for an MFA in photography. Jeff Whetstone’s work has been exhibited at museums throughout the world. His photographs have received reviews in The New York Times, New Yorker, and Los Angeles Times. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007 for New Wilderness.

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