Mississippi’s 2020 State Fellow

In this season of uncertainty, being named Mississippi’ State Fellow for 2020 by South Arts brings a glimmer of excitement and anticipation.  I am humbled to be included with past South Arts Fellows Coulter FussellDominic Lippillo, and Rory Doyle in representing a cross section of art in Mississippi.  It also fills me with gratitude that South Arts is dedicated to undergirding southern artists through their generous support and through spurring us on towards artistic excellence.

While the work awarded is deeply personal, my wrestling with acceptance and contentment in the pressure cooker of motherhood, it is imagery I pray is encouraging to other women as we navigate how to juggle careers, children, relationships, homes, personal interests, and, now, in this strange season, schooling.  We are not alone, yet often experience extreme isolation.  May this be an outstretched hand, an acknowledgement that there can be humor and beauty in the chaos.

For more information on the other state fellows (congratulations to all of you!) and the Southern Prize, please visit South Arts and read the press release below.  

“South Arts is immensely proud to support every one of these artists, craftspeople, and tradition-bearers,” says Susie Surkamer, executive director of South Arts. “Especially as our country enters the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, artists are among those most vulnerable to losing income. Yet their creativity, work, and stories are what carry us forward and will be integral to rebuilding our communities.”

Applications were open for both fellowship programs in the fall of 2019. The State Fellowships application pool was reviewed by a panel of experts including Ndubuisi C. Ezeluomba of the New Orleans Museum of Art, Edward Hayes, Jr. of The McNay Art Museum, independent art historian and consultant David Houston, and Marilyn Zapf of the Center for Craft. The panel made their recommendations based on the artistic excellence of their work and inclusiveness of the diversity of the Southern region. The Folk & Traditional Art Master Artist Fellowship applications were reviewed by a panel including Native American potter and storyteller Beckee Garris, Zoe van Buren of the North Carolina Arts Council, Mark Brown of the Kentucky Arts Council, and Evangeline Mee of the Tennessee Arts Commission. The panel made their recommendations based on the artists’ history and mastery of their respective tradition as well as the proposed lifelong learning opportunity.

The nine State Fellowship recipients will be featured in an exhibition that is scheduled to open at the Bo Bartlett Center at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia in May 2020; due to the current closures of facilities, this date may be postponed. The announcement of which State Fellowship recipients will also be named as the Southern Prize winner and finalist will be announced at a ceremony surrounding the opening of this exhibition.

“I would like to thank each and every one of our donors and sponsors,” continues Surkamer. “Their support and investment in the arts, culture, and tradition of our region is vital even in the best of times, and their ongoing generosity is more important than ever before.”

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