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The Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Awards

Dr. Leo Twiggs

2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

Leo Twiggs. Photo credit: Jerry Siegel.Leo Twiggs is an artist, educator, and advocate. His story – overcoming the barriers of poverty and racial bias to attain advanced educational and professional success – is at once representative and exceptional. When segregation prevented him from enrolling in a master’s program in his home state, Dr. Twiggs earned an advanced degree from the progressive art department at New York University. When the University of Georgia sought to integrate its institution and offered a place in their doctoral track, he accepted the invitation. In 1970, armed with a doctorate in arts education and offers further afield, Dr. Twiggs chose to return to his home state, intent on ensuring that other aspiring African American students would have the chance to pursue his passion for making art. Throughout his career, Dr. Twiggs has meant for his batik canvases to serve as essential commentary on his personal journey and on universal experience in the American South. Dr. Twiggs’ work makes a statement and reveals an artist who is sensitive to both history and present day realities. In culmination of his 50-plus year career, his capstone project – Requiem for Mother Emanuel – bookends the accomplishments that earned him the distinction as the first visual artist to receive the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award in 1981. Dr. Twiggs’ myriad contributions to the educational and cultural vitality of the state have been both consequential and constructive, and are deserving of special recognition for lifetime achievement.


Photo credit: Jerry Siegel


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About the Verner Awards


For more information about the Verner Awards, please contact Victoria McCurry, 803-734-8315.