Meet FY20 Individual Artist Fellows Jered Sprecher and Marcus Wicker

Technology of Dirt (detail), oil on linen, 47 x 40 inches, 2018. This series of paintings fuse images of flowers with the slick reflections of windows and digital screens.

Jered Sprecher


From Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media & Design

For the past eight years, Jered Sprecher has taught as an associate professor of art at the University of Tennessee. He received a B.A. from Concordia University in Nebraska, and both a M.A. and M.F.A. in painting from the University of Iowa. Sprecher’s work has been shown nationally and has received fellowships from the Chinati Foundation, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Ireland.

His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, the Knoxville Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas, the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas and the University of Iowa Museum of Art, as well as private collections across the country. Learn more about Sprecher and his work

As an artist I make paintings that exist in the sliver of space between abstraction and representation. I look to the lived daily experiences of the world coupled with the artifacts of the past.—Jered Sprecher

Marcus Wicker


From Lee Baird, Director of Literary Arts & Grants Analysis

Marcus Wicker holds an MFA in poetry from Indiana University and he currently teaches poetry in the MFA program at the University of Memphis and is the poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review. He is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, The Missouri Review’s Miller Audio Prize, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem, and the Fine Arts Work Center. His first collection Maybe the Saddest Thing (Harper Perennial), a National Poetry Series winner, was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. Wicker’s poems have appeared in The NationPoetryAmerican Poetry ReviewOxford American, and Boston Review. His second book, Silencer—also an Image Award finalist—was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017 and won the Society of Midland Authors Award, as well as the Arnold Adoff Poetry Award for New Voices. 

In his current project, he’s working with Richard Pryor’s oeuvre in admiration of his ironic social commentary, dexterous storytelling, and comic timing.” I admire his ability to make beauty out of sincere, unflinching self-examination. As a writer often invested in similar stakes, I recently began penning poems in his voice as a means of compositional inquiry—taking apart and reverse-engineering his stand-up bits to see if I could mine something from his speech patterns, rhetorical devices, and movement in my retellings. Eventually, the experiment started to trickle out poems that use character study to explore contemporary attitudes about race, current events, and the self. Given the loud, aggressively partisan news machine of our political climate and readers who have grown tired of its volume, Richard Pryor’s use of misdirection and non-linear thought—on stage and off—strike me as the perfect angle from which to interrogate 21st century culture.”