Warren Seelig of Rockland, who came to Maine to teach at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in 1978 and never left, won a $50,000 United States Artists fellowship, becoming the fifth Maine artist to win the coveted prize.

The award honors artists for career accomplishment and ongoing creative excellence, and comes with an unrestricted cash prize. Seelig won a fellowship in the craft/sculpture category. He is among 45 artists and collectives to win USA Fellowships in 2018.

“I’m thrilled, obviously,” he said Monday. “I’m not trying to be corny, but the honor is amazing. The competition was intense. It’s reinforcement for what it is that I do, and I am certainly overwhelmed about that.”

Seelig teaches, curates, writes and creates, and specializes in textiles, fibers and other materials. He creates textile-like surfaces with steel and stone, turning the idea of fabric upside down.

He has a studio in downtown Rockland and plans to invest some of the award in a computer-controlled cutting machine, known as a CNC router, which will allow him to be more productive in the studio. He cuts much of his material by hand or circular saw and has hired a CNC operator in Warren to help with projects. “Having one in my studio will be fantastic,” he said.

The award also will allow him to pursue less commission work and travel more. “I want to travel to art centers. I have traveled to London and Berlin, where I have enjoyed seeing what’s going on there. I want to see more,” he said.

USA Fellowships are awarded to artists across all stages of their careers and genres, in visual arts, dance, architecture and design, writing, music and performance. Other Mainers to win the awards, which have been given out since 2006, are visual artists Lauren Fensterstock and Anna Helpler, each in 2016; former Maine poet laureate Wesley McNair; and novelist Annie Proulx.

In a statement, United States Artists President and Chief Executive Officer Deana Haggag said the 2018 winners “produce some of the most moving, incisive and powerful artistic work in this country, and it is our privilege to honor them. Collectively, they are a reminder of the beauty produced by hardworking artists on a daily basis, too much of which is often overlooked.”

Seelig was nominated anonymously for the prize. “Whoever it was, I appreciate it,” he said. After he learned of his nomination in May, he had to provide 25 examples of his work from throughout his career “and answer a number of questions about my background and the work itself. And that was it. Then I waited.”

Seelig, 71, teaches in the fibers/mixed media program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He has received two individual fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and three fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He has shown his art in museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, Japan and Korea, and has written for various magazines and journals, including American Craft and Fiber Arts. He is a regular visiting critic at Rhode Island School of Design and a mentor in the graduate program at the Maine College of Art.

He received a bachelor’s degree from the Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science and a master’s from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Seelig visited Maine as a youngster and fell in love with the state in 1978 when Haystack’s founding director Francis Merritt recruited him to teach a summer workshop. “I had never taught a workshop in my life. I came out to Maine from Colorado, and I just fell in love. I loved the people, the program and the whole attitude at Haystack. It was overwhelming,” he said.

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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Twitter: pphbkeyes

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