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John Douglas Powers, an assistant professor of sculpture, has been named a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow.

Often characterized as “midcareer” awards, Guggenheim Fellowships are grants awarded to scholars, artists, and scientists who have produced exceptional scholarship or creative work.

The title of Powers’ proposal was “Time and Space.”


“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.”

Powers’ fellowship will allow him to take a year off from teaching to work in the studio.

Powers150“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, who came to UT in 2013, studied art history at Vanderbilt University and earned his MFA in sculpture from the University of Georgia.

Powers’ work has been exhibited nationally at venues including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the MIT Museum, the Mariana Kistler Beach Museum of Art, the Huntsville Museum of Art, the Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art, the Wiregrass Museum of Art, the Alexander Brest Museum, the Masur Museum, the Gadsden Museum of Art, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, Brenda Taylor Gallery, the Georgia Museum of Art, the Vero Beach Museum of Art, and Cue Art Foundation. His videos and animations have been screened internationally.

His work has been featured in the New York TimesWorld Sculpture NewsSculpture MagazineArt Forumthe Huffington PostArt in Americathe Boston Globe, and on CBS News Sunday Morning.

His previous honors have included the 2013 Virginia A. Groot Foundation Award, a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant, a Southeastern College Art Conference Individual Artist Fellowship, an Alabama State Council on the Arts Fellowship, and the Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award.

Powers will have a one-person exhibition that will include his most recent work, Locus, at the Knoxville Museum of Art from May 6 to August 7.

“My colleagues and I are thrilled that John has been selected for this prestigious award,” said Dottie Habel, director of UT’s School of Art. “His work is remarkable for its scale, its ambition, its manufacture, and its haunting content.”

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. For more information on the fellows and their projects, please visit the Guggenheim Foundation’s website.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,