Jasper Artists of the Year

A really good year.

Every artist has one now and again. A period of time when the universe smiles upon you, life seems to click, and you have the energy to get done all the jobs you need to do. It's a brilliant feeling. And we like spreading that brilliance around. That's why we ask our readers to nominate the artists in their lives who have had one of those really good years.

Congratulations to the 2018 Jasper Artists of the Year.

2018 Jasper Artist of the Year in Theatre – Darion McCloud

For Darion McCloud, it’s almost as if every year is a good year for this inordinately busy theatre artist. The founder of the NiA Theatre Company, McCloud sustains the company with new and exciting performance opportunities and 2018 was exceptionally productive. But the storytelling artist also stayed busy performing with the SC Shakespeare Company, as well as writing, co-writing, and directing, including his one person show, Fireflies: A Dave Potter Story, produced with an education grant from the SC Arts Commission, The Gift That Ran Away/Carnival of the Animals with the SC Philharmonic, and a new NiA production, WHATCHAMACALLIT!!! Performed at Edventure. McCloud directed a number of performances and staged readings, was busy with Augusta Baker’s Storyfest, the Pigskin Poets, and he became an Indie Grits Fellow, co-writing and directing the community theatre project addressing gentrification called Dissonance. Clearly McCloud is not slowing down as he makes every year more and more exceptional.

2018 Jasper Artist of the Year in Literary Arts – Monifa Lemons

As one of the founders of The Watering Hole, a Southern-based, word-centric organization that has charged itself with building “Harlem Renaissance-style spaces in the contemporary South” and inspiring “kinship between poets of color from all spoken and written traditions,” Lemons has her hands full with the likes of coordinating and hosting the Watering Hole Winter Retreat. But the constantly producing spoken word artist, who also goes by the name Selah the Poet, made time for magazine articles, an ETV feature, and Typewriter Poetry at the SC State House. She opened for MC Lyte at the Love, Peace, and Hip Hop festival and sat for a panel at Deckle Edge Literary Festival. She curated poetry, facilitated a retreat for teen girls, judged a poetry contest, and still managed to publish some poetry of her own in Sinister Wisdom. Selah gets it done.

2018 Jasper Artist of the Year in Visual Arts – Trahern Cook

You need to come out from under your rock if you haven’t seen the affable Trahern Cook painting his way through every cultural happening in the SC Midlands and beyond. Cook, a plein air artist, has become a part of the local landscape by setting up his easel, popping on his porkpie hat, and painting the life of has become a part of the local landscape by setting up his easel, popping on his porkpie hat, and painting the life of the city. “I have the privilege of getting up every day and painting,” the artist says. “I paint in my hometown and all over the United States. Connecting with people where they are and sharing their stories through my paintings is what speaks to my soul right now. I endeavor to find and share sanctuary with as many of my fellow citizens as possible. In the last year the easel has been my old wooden vessel that's carried me to many different sanctuaries, but all tell a uniting story. That most of us are all looking for the same thing; love, friendship, family, and a place to chill for a bit to mend the soul.”

2018 Jasper Artist of the Year in Music – Marcum Core

Marcum Core, a hip-hop producer who creates under the name MidiMARC, released a series of instrument collections over 2018, including three entries in his Prolific series and the Bandcamp exclusive Dawgone Shame. Core was also the sole producer behind the beats for FatRat da Czar’s 2018 album Ethx as well. He also participated in a variety of community events, serving as host and background music beatmaker for the Seuss Slam at Curiosity Coffeeshop and putting together a featured playlist for several gigs, including the First Annual Pigeon Party at The War Mouth. We love the vibe MidiMARC brings to Columbia and celebrate everything that is to come.