VCU professor wins Rome Prize for visual arts

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Corin Hewitt, assistant professor in the Department of Sculpture + Extended Media in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, has been named a 2014-15 winner of the Rome Prize Competition, one of the top awards available to artists in the United States.

Hewitt, who received the honor in the Visual Arts category, is an artist who has employed cycles of sculpture, photography, video and performance in an ongoing investigation of image- and object-making systems. In addition to exhibitions of fixed objects, he has made several projects in which he sets up installations that he works inside, ultimately creating a series of photographs or a video during the run of the exhibition. Hewitt’s numerous solo exhibitions include shows at the Whitney Museum of Art, Cleveland MOCA and The Seattle Art Museum. He has been included in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Norway, the Wanas Foundation in Sweden and with the Public Art Fund, which commissioned a public project in Brooklyn.

"The Rome Prize is one of the most prestigious awards available to a contemporary artist,” said Joseph H. Seipel, dean of the VCU School of the Arts. “This is truly an impressive honor for Corin. We know his year in residence at the American Academy in Rome will be life changing. Adding the Rome Prize to his already impressive resume, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, speaks to his amazing talent and the excellence that continues at VCUarts."

The American Academy in Rome oversees the annual competition — now in its 118th year. Hewitt will receive a fellowship, including a stipend, to study in Rome from September 2014 to July 2015. During that period he will work on his art — a proposed series titled “Compressed Interiors” — and travel in and around Rome.

Hewitt — a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011-12 and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2010 — received the Chuck Close Rome Prize based on the accumulation of his past work.

“I am honored to have won the Rome Prize,” Hewitt said. “I have long wanted to spend an extended period working in this strange and ancient city. Rome is dense with layers of historical, psychological and material richness and I am excited how it will inform and expand my work.”

While in Rome, Hewitt wants to create a series of makeshift architectural facades that will act as a generative instrument for a body of photographs, drawings and objects. These facades will use contemporary Italian storefronts as well as a series of 1916 paintings by Giorgio de Chirico as points of inspiration. He plans to travel to Ferrara to further research the generative context of Di Chirico’s paintings. He is particularly interested in the unusual combination of Jewish and Masonic cultural traditions that helped form the inspiration for this body of work. Possible materials could include soil, castings of foodstuffs from Italian markets and architectural and advertising detritus.

To view selected works of Hewitt, visit


Corin Hewitt, feature photo courtesy of Amanda Sanfilipp.