The College of Charleston’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and its director, Mark Sloan, are recipients of the 2012 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts, the highest honor the state presents in the arts.

“It’s one of the highlights of our year at the South Carolina Arts Commission when we recognize these outstanding members of our statewide community for their contributions to the arts,” said S.C. Arts Commission Board Chairman Dr. Sarah Lynn Hayes. “Our arts community is broad, deep and diverse, and this year’s lineup of honorees is a wonderful illustration of that. We salute and thank them for being standard-bearers for the arts.”

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston exists to advocate, exhibit and interpret visual art, with an emphasis on contemporary art. In addition to producing exhibitions, lectures, film series, publications, and a comprehensive website, the Institute serves as an extension of the undergraduate curricula at the College and as a cultural resource for the region.

Much of the Institute’s success has been credited to the vision and leadership of director and senior curator Mark Sloan. Since Sloan’s arrival in 1994, the Halsey has taken the lead in establishing partnerships and collaborations with the City of Charleston, Gibbes Museum of Art, Clemson Architecture Center, Spoleto Festival USA and the Medical University of South Carolina to initiate dozens of innovative programs. Notable projects include the 1996 exhibition of the work of Juan Logan and Renee Stout, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. It included placing the artists in residence in area high schools and established a high bar for community outreach in future projects. Force of Nature: Site Installations by Ten Japanese Artists in 2006 brought artists from Japan to spend six weeks in residence creating art on site. Reviews for the exhibition appeared in over 100 publications and a resulting book won awards from Art Libraries Society of North America and the American Association of Museums.

The Halsey has produced two major international exhibitions in partnership with Spoleto USA, attracting critical praise and record attendance. The Institute partnered with the Medical University of South Carolina to produce the Palmetto Portraits Project involving 24 photographers across the state. The result was a major exhibition of 285 portraits on exhibition at the State Museum in Columbia, a hardcover book and a comprehensive website that will have a life well beyond the current generation. Additional projects and initiatives have demonstrated the organization’s innovative and community-based approach to bringing high-quality contemporary art to South Carolina.

The 2012 recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts are:

Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Lillian Quackenbush, Columbia
Individual Artist: Robert Ariail, Camden
Individual: Sam Wang, Clemson
Arts in Education: R. Scot Hockman, Columbia
Business/Foundation: The Self Foundation, Greenwood
Organization: The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, with special recognition for Mark Sloan, Charleston

The awards will be presented at a Statehouse ceremony tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 3, 2012. The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients and the arts community at the South Carolina Arts Gala on Wednesday, May 2. The gala is a fundraiser supporting the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Gala, call (803) 734-8696 or visit