Florida artist wins $50,000 top prize in Lake City competition

May 5, 2019 GMT

LAKE CITY, S.C. – After eight days of the competition and judging, ArtFields wrapped up with an awards ceremony in The Bean Market Saturday evening.

Forrest Lawson, a resident of Winter Park, Fla., won the $50,000 grand prize for his piece “6/12/2016,” a piece about the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

“I can’t fathom it at the moment,” Lawson said. “It’s a very big deal. I’m speechless still.”

Lawson said he is preparing to go to graduate school at the University of Georgia, and the prize money will help him and his husband as they prepare to move to graduate school. Lawson will pursue a degree in fine arts in sculpture.


“This is huge,” Lawson said. “This means that my husband and I will be able to find a place more affordably, and I will be able to pay off my student loans.”

Anastasia Netrebine of Gastonia, N.C., won second place; Charles Clary of Conway, N.C., won the People’s Choice 2-D award; and Noah James Saunders of Athens, Ga., won the People’s Choice 3-D award.

The people’s choice awards are voted on by ArtFields attendees.

ArtFields also gave 10 merit awards, as well as nine category awards.

This year, ArtFields added state awards for the one artist from each of the 12 Southeastern U.S. states in the competition. These awards were judged by members of the jury panel as well.

Jamison Kerr, interim director of ArtFields, said the ending of ArtFields is bittersweet.

“We will be thinking about this day for months and years,” Kerr said.

Kerr said ArtFields gives the Lake City community something to be proud of.

“I think that what was once great about Lake City is still great about Lake City, and that is the people here, and ArtFields may bring people here, but it’s the community and sense of hospitality that makes people want to come back,” Lawson said.

Michaela Pilar Brown, a Columbia native, was one of five judges for this year’s ArtFields competition. Brown was a winner in last year’s ArtFields competition.

“It’s a heavy decision because you know that amount of money is going to impact someone’s life in a very real way so you take it very seriously,” Brown said. “It’s also an incredible amount of really good work.”