An Atlanta artist who works with plastic objects recovered from the ocean has won the $50,000 Hudgens Prize, one of the largest awards that recognizes American visual artists.

Pam Longobardi, an art professor at Georgia State University, beat out 369 other applicants from across the state to win the award.

Pam Longobardi artShe’s spent years traveling the globe — from Beijing to the Alaskan Peninsula — to collect marine debris and transform it into environmental art.

“Plastic objects are the cultural archaeology of our time,” she said in her artist statement for the Finalist Exhibit, which is currently on display at the Jacqueline Casey Hudgens Center for the Arts. “These are objects with unintended consequences that become transformed as they leave the quotidian world and collide with nature to be mutated, transported and regurgitated out of the shifting oceans.”

Longobardi created the Drifters Project and is a participating artist with Expedition: Gyre. She’s had more than 40 solo exhibits worldwide and considers her work a form of art “intervention.”

When she was nominated for the Hudgens Prize, she posted, “Wish me luck, I could do a lot of good things with this award” on her Facebook page.

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