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M. Florine Démosthène has won the 2021 Wachtmeister Award — a prestigious fellowship awarded biannually by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). The prize acknowledges the vital role of the arts in our world, the importance of artists who exemplify excellence in their field, and the necessity of time and space for the creative phase of all artistic work.

As the 2021 Wachtmeister Award winner, Démosthène will receive a $1,000 honorarium and a month-long residency at Mt. San Angelo, home to VCCA’s artist residency program in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

In residence at VCCA, Démosthène will have uninterrupted time and space to focus on her creative work. One project she hopes to pursue is an immersive installation that will incorporate elements of her drawings and paintings. “For this series, I will take on the persona of a warrior heroine whose special powers reside in her ability to harness the cataclysmic energy of her derrière,” writes Démosthène. “The goal of this project is to investigate cultural appropriation through the unveiling of transformative feminine power.”

   

Photos courtesy of M. Florine Démosthène (Left to Right):

  • “Entangled By Your Thoughts” | Collage on canvas | 18″ x 24″ | 2020
  • “Untitled 10″ | Collage on paper | 11″ x 15” | 2020
  • “Untitled 11″ | Collage on paper | 11″ x 15” | 2020

Démosthène has exhibited extensively through group and solo exhibitions in the U.S., Caribbean, U.K., Europe, and Africa. Recent solo shows include “Between Possibility and Actuality” at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery in Chicago; a solo booth exhibition with Mariane Ibrahim Gallery at The Armory Show in New York; and “The Stories I Tell Myself” at Gallery 1957 in Accra, Ghana.

Her work can be seen at the University of South Africa (UNISA), Lowe Art Museum, PFF Collection of African American Art, and in various private collections worldwide. Démosthène has received a Tulsa Artist Fellowship, an Art Moves Africa Grant, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. She has participated in residencies in the U.S., U.K., Slovakia, Ghana, and Tanzania.

Démosthène was born in the U.S. and raised between Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and New York. She earned her BFA from Parsons School for Design and her MFA from Hunter College-City University of New York.

Selection Process

Three accomplished visual artists served as jurors for the award. The anonymous jury reviewed and discussed submissions from a competitive field of international applicants. In addition to honoring Démosthène as the winner, the jury recognized artists Pedro Varela and Charles Yuen as runners up.

The 2021 award was open to established visual artists who had not previously been in residence at VCCA. Eligible applicants demonstrated substantial national or international achievement in their field over at least 15 years.

Award History

Endowed by VCCA Board member and former VCCA Board President Linda Wachtmeister and administered by the VCCA Fellows Council, the Wachtmeister Award is presented biennially on a rotating basis within disciplines to a prominent writer, visual artist or composer whose significant achievement in the arts is widely recognized.

Previous visual artists to receive the Wachtmeister Award include Anne Ferrer (2015), James McGarrell (2011), and Thomas Roma (2005). The award has also gone to composers Robert Normandeau (2019) and Anna Weesner (2006), nonfiction writer Emily Rapp Black (2017), poet Debra Marquart (2013), playwright Kia Corthron (2008), and fiction writer Ha Jin (2004).


The mission of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) is to provide time and space for national and international writers, visual artists, and composers of talent and promise to bring forth their finest works, because the arts are vital, diversity is a strength, and creativity is essential. The artists who come to VCCA, whether emerging or established, are selected by peer review on the basis of the important or innovative work they are doing in their respective fields.

In residence, VCCA Fellows are provided with an individual studio, a private bedroom with private bath, and meals in a community of cross-disciplinary artists. Life at VCCA is free of many of the distractions we find in everyday life. Artists are granted solitary time to focus on their art, and are also part of a collaborative community of accomplished artists that provides insights, new ideas, and stimulating conversation. VCCA Fellows are free to work at their own pace in quiet, spacious, light-filled studios, just a short walk from their residence overlooking the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.