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Atlanta couple wins $100,000 turning tequila barrel into art

Atlanta artists Micah and Whitney Stansell won $100,000 this week in a contest in which artists turned a Tequila Herradura oak barrel into a work of art.

Atlanta artists Micah and Whitney Stansell won  a contest in which they turned a Tequila Herradura hand-crafted oak barrel into a work of art. In their "Look Inside, 2013," the Stansells created a zoetrope inside the tequila barrel that features a running horse. The couple will travel to Miami in early December for a finals event in which their barrel will compete against winners from seven other cities, with the winner receiving a $100,000 prize. Photo from TEQUILA HERRADURA.

Atlanta artists Micah and Whitney Stansell won a contest in which they turned a Tequila Herradura hand-crafted oak barrel into a work of art. Photo from TEQUILA HERRADURA.

For their piece, titled “Look Inside, 2013,” they created a zoetrope inside the tequila barrel that features a running horse. It’s a tribute to Eadweard Muybridge, the English photographer who was a pioneer in the study of motion.

Red marquee capital letters encircling the outside of the barrel tempt viewers to “LOOK INSIDE.”

The Stansells’ work won $10,000 in a regional Herradura Barrel Art Collection competition in October held at Atlanta’s Mason Murer Fine Art, placing them into the finals held this week in Miami against winners from seven other cities.

The married couple is highly regarded on the Atlanta visual arts scene. Micah was a Museum of the Contemporary Art of Georgia Working Artist Project winner in 2010-11, and he has exhibited with Whitney at Whitespace gallery in Inman Park.

During Flux 2010 in Castleberry Hil, they collaborated on “Between You and Me,” a monumental five-channel video projection that covered the Norfolk Southern Railway Building’s epic facade.

Inspired by the visual and oral history of their families and the places that they have called home, they work in a variety of media, ranging from textiles, sculpture, painting, and drawing to single and multi-channel film and video works and installation.

In their artists statement for the Herradura barrel, they explained:

“Though a 150-pound tequila barrel is not our usual medium, we set about the process of ‘making art’ in our usual way; anthropologically.

“We considered the barrel not just as an aesthetic object, but as a utilitarian one; an object with a particular historical purpose. Here we struck upon the idea to use the inside of the barrel, leaving the outside of the barrel unchanged save for a marquee sign with a simple call to action: ‘look inside.’ It is after all the inside of the barrel — what’s inside — that is important. We’ve created a zoetrope, an early ‘cinema’ device, inside the barrel. The running horse pays homage to Muybridge, a pioneer of the moving image, and the marquee sign and the act of peering into the barrel are a nod to the kinetoscope/mutoscope.

“Early alchemists believed the distilling of ’spirits’ to be magic. In the same way, early cinema devices like the zoetrope were used to conjure spirits and were presented as magical objects. We think there’s still something pretty magical about the inside of our Herradura barrel.”

The running white horse in Micah and Whitney Stansell's "Look Inside, 2013, "which won a $100,000 prize in a contest in which Tequila Herradura barrels were turned into artworks, pays homage to Eadweard Muybridge, the English photographer who was a pioneer in the study of motion.

The running white horse in Micah and Whitney Stansell's "Look Inside, 2013, "which won a $100,000 prize in a contest in which Tequila Herradura barrels were turned into artworks, pays homage to Eadweard Muybridge, the English photographer who was a pioneer in the study of motion. Photo from TEQUILA HERRADURA.

For more on the artists that competed in the Herradura Barrel Art Collection competition: www.herradurabarrelart.com.

HOWARD POUSNER

5 comments Add your comment

Alice Nelson

December 6th, 2013
9:54 pm

I am Whitney’s grandmother, ready to “jump over a barrel” with pride. Whitney and Micah have worked
and studied many long years in their love of art and deserve all the accolades and rewards they are
now receiving. Of course I am proud, but mostly thankful for them.

RevRick Blondeau

December 6th, 2013
11:10 pm

Your Truely blessed and a little nuts. And to think I got to clean your sinks when we worked together at LCS. now your famous and Sid and I still can’t draw water. I’m berry proud of u.

Jill Davis -Collins Thompson

December 7th, 2013
4:36 pm

Have known Micah and Whitney for quite a while now and the art here in this piece is no less thoughtful in its tribute to the work of Muybridge and the history of the container holding the former as it is a tribute to Micah and Whitney’s rich personal submission to a Providence-given power to see beyond the ordinary and inspire us all. These two fine young artists were gifted and supported by their parents! Micah has been especially supported by Debi Stansell, who though very creatively gifted herself, has taken great pleasure in cheering and supporting the strengths and special gifts of her whole family!

Marlene Stansell/Sheffield

December 9th, 2013
3:11 pm

I am so proud of Micah and Whitey and their great art work. They are both so amazing in what they do. The Lord has blessed them in such a great way. They really work hard at everything they do.
Grandmother & Von

Anita Miller

December 12th, 2013
1:53 pm

HI
I am Whitney’s aunt from Pittsburgh and am also very proud of Micah and Whitney – they always have such incredibly unique vision with their art. I can also add that Whitney’s talent comes directly from the O’Toole side of the family…ha. You guys rock! Aunt Anita