MOCA GA staff and WAP winners pose during the WAP Bash on July 14, 2023. Provided.

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) has announced that Namon Choi, José Ibarra Rizo, and Jane Foley have won the 2023-2024 MOCA GA Working Artist Project complete with $15,000 stipends for their work in the coming year. 

The Working Artist Project (WAP) was developed to support established artists in the Metro Atlanta area. This annual award is funded by the Charles Loridans Foundation, the Antinori Foundation, the AEC Trust, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Including this year’s winners, MOCA GA has supported 48 fellows over the past 16 years. 

“This legacy initiative provides an unparalleled level of support for individual artists, expands the Museum’s mission, and promotes Atlanta as a city where artists can live, work, and thrive. MOCA GA supports artists by granting a major stipend to create new work; by presenting a solo exhibition of the new work; by producing an accompanying exhibition catalogue; and by providing paid studio apprentices over the course of one year,” said Annette Cone-Skelton, Director of MOCA GA in a statement. 

This year’s WAP Guest Curator Vivian Li is The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art at Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). Li has built a reputation for ambitious artist collaborations and has organized Slip Zone: A New Look at Postwar Abstraction in the Americas and East Asia, which she co-curated. In her career she has worked at the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the Worcester Art Museum. Li is a specialist in postwar and contemporary art in Asia, and she received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She is a regular contributor for scholarly publications and has also lectured at Clark University. 

A bit about the 2023-2024 WAP Fellows:

Namwon Choi, provided.

Namwon Choi is one of Atlanta Contemporary’s current Studio Artists, and she was also one of five artists selected for the New Worlds: Georgia Women to Watch exhibition at the Atlanta Contemporary earlier this year. Choi attended Hongik University in Seoul, Korea where she received her BFA and MFA in Traditional Korean Painting, then attended Georgia State University where she received her MFA in Drawing and Painting. Her CV includes solo exhibitions at the Moss Art Center at Virginia Tech University, the Laney Contemporary Gallery in Savannah, GA, and THE END Project Space in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Choi’s work is centered around the idea of transition and movement. Her experiences as a Korean artist living and working in America have inspired her to consider the notion of in-betweenness. She often features vistas displaying highways and roads to illustrate the forgotten transitional states that come between where you’ve been and where you are going. Contending with feelings of affiliation and alienation, she makes drawings and monochromatic paintings that embody transience in life and space. 

Jose Ibarra Rizo, provided.

Jose Ibarra Rizo is a Mexican-American multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on identity and the migrant experience in the American South. He uses photography to explore the nuances of what it means to be an American and to share the untold stories of the individuals who have made America what it is today. Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, he has always loved art and cites his supportive parents, teachers, and mentors for his success as a working artist. Now living in Atlanta, he maintains a studio space at MINT Gallery and he was the recipient of the inaugural MINT + ACP Emerging Artist Fellowship. He was also one of five artists selected for MINT’s 2022-2023 Leap Year artist program, and he was one of three awardees for the 2022 Atlanta Artadia Awards. You can find his works in the permanent collection of the High Museum of Art, and he has worked with high profile clients including Rolling Stone Magazine and TIME Magazine. 

Rizo’s contemplative portraits offer glimpses into the multifaceted migrant experience. Evoking pride, joy, hesitation, heritage, and hope, they bring the viewer into an intimate conversation with the photographer’s subject. Whether in black and white, vibrant color, or muted tones, his portraits are at once both delicate and strong. Rizo uses photography to build a bridge between the seen and unseen culture and heritage of migrants living and working in America. 

Jane Foley, provided.

Jane Foley is a multidisciplinary artist working in sculpture, sound, and new media. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Foley received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and now teaches sculpture and new media at Emory University. Foley has created sound sculptures for the Architecture Triennale in Lisbon, Portugal and La Friche Belle de Mai in Marseille, France. They also composed soundscapes which played in cabs throughout the 5th Marrakech Biennale in Morocco. Locally, they have created public works for the High Museum of Art, Dashboard, The BeltLine, Flux Projects, and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, among others. Foley can sometimes be found working out of their studio at the Atlanta Contemporary where they are a part of the Studio Artist Program.

Foley’s artwork transcends traditional media with works that incorporate elements of video, sound, sonic artifacts, and site-specific installations. Exploring feelings of isolation and connection within the context of public spaces, Foley begins with deep listening and field recordings. An openness to spontaneous collaboration and an interest in the lesser known histories of place has led them to distant lands including Iceland, Lisbon, Marseilla, Austria, and rural Georgia. As a former synchronized swimmer, Foley has developed a deep interest in the visual language of water as well as the histories of specific geographic water sources such as the springs below Ponce City Market where she installed a sound installation and public fountain.

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.