Posted: Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Donna Shank Major, left, with Mary WhyteDonna Shank Major, 2D and 3D Design Instructor at the Fine Arts Center, has been named the recipient of the Gibbes Museum of Art’s annual Mary Whyte Art Educator Award.

Established in 2007, this award is designed to highlight a South Carolina high school visual art teacher who has demonstrated superior commitment to their students and to their craft. The award is accompanied by a cash prize of $2,500 and is administered and presented annually by the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Donna Shank Major is the instructor for 2D and 3D Design courses and serves as coordinator for Explore the Arts summer program. She grew up in Greenville and was an art student at Fine Arts Center for three years. She graduated from Converse College and continued studies at Converse, earning a master’s degree in education. She has been teaching art for 23 years in Greenville and Spartanburg counties, and works in a variety of media and techniques including clay, printmaking, painting, and bookmaking.

Ms. Major has received many grants, including a Fulbright Memorial Fund grant to study in Japan, a National Artist Teacher Fellowship to study bookbinding in Italy, and fellowships to study at Arrowmont School of Crafts and Penland. Her work has been exhibited in shows at the Art Bomb, Open Studios with the Metropolitan Arts Council, the Belton Juried Professional Show, the Anderson Art Show and the Union Juried Professional Show.

Watercolor artist Mary Whyte is a teacher and author whose figurative paintings have earned national recognition. A resident of Johns Island, South Carolina, Whyte garners much of her inspiration from the Gullah descendants of coastal Carolina slaves who number among her most prominent subjects. Her portraits are included in numerous corporate, private, and university collections, as well as in the permanent collections of the Gibbes Museum of Art and the Greenville County Museum of Art. Her paintings have been featured in International Artist, Artist, American Artist, Watercolor, and American Art Collector, L'Art de Aquarelle, and numerous other publications. Whyte is the author of numerous books and her work can be found at Coleman Fine Art in Charleston, where her husband, Smith Coleman, manages the gallery and makes gilded and carved frames.

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