National Sculpture Society. “La Bestia”. 2019.
On November 25, the Award Winners Exhibition debuted in National Sculpture Society’s gallery. The 15 prize winners were selected from the 55 works on display during NSS’ 86th Annual Awards Exhibition at Brookgreen Gardens from early August through late October.
A Jury of Awards, composed of at least two sculptors and a curator, convened at Brookgreen Gardens in early October to decide the prize recipients. This year the jury included Rick Reinart, Owner, Reinert Fine Art Gallery; Bart Walter, Sculptor and Fellow of NSS; and Basil Watson, Sculptor.
The top honor, the Gold Medal & Charlotte Geffken Prize, went to New York artist, Leslie Stefanson. A former actress, Stefanson, studied anatomy and figure sculpture under Robert Cunningham, stone carving at Otis Art School, and écorché and life drawing at Los Angeles Art College. This is Stefanson’s first show with National Sculpture Society.
The nearly 10-foot long piece is composed of 11 individual rectangular bronze elements measuring 6″ x 3.5″ each and is peopled with small figures in different poses. “La Bestia is the colloquial name for a network of freight trains that wind their way up through Mexico to the southern border of the United States,” says Stefanson. “These trains offer refugees, migrants and asylum seekers an expedited form of transport for the 1,450-mile journey through Mexico and yet riding these trains is extremely perilous and often fatal. La Bestia is one of ten sculptures in a series exploring refugee migration around the world. With over 70 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, we are experiencing the largest refugee crisis in history.”