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Emmett O'Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration

The 2016 Emmett Awards

The Emmett O’Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration is given annually by Metropolitan Bank to an outstanding Memphis visual artists. In addition, the artist receives a $10,000 cash award. The award is named after Emmett O’Ryan, founding board member of Metropolitan Bank. Award recipients are selected by Metropolitan Bank in concert with the Artist Advisory Council and ArtsAccelerator – an initiative of ArtsMemphis that aims to strengthen our visual arts community through grants and professional development programs.

Learn more about the 2016 Emmett Awards >>

2016 Emmett Award: Beth Edwards

Beth Edwards received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Tyler School of Art and her Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University. She is represented by the David Lusk Gallery in Memphis and the Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee. Her work is in numerous public and private collections including the Howard and Judith Tullman Collection in Chicago, the Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis and the Tennessee Arts Commission in Nashville. Her work was featured three times in New American Paintings and was on the cover twice. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell and Yaddo artist colonies and was the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship and an ArtsMemphis Arts Accelerator Grant. Visit Beth's website to learn more>>

Fun Fact:

In 2009, Beth Edwards curated “A Dog’s Life” exhibition for the Memphis College of Art. Through the sales of show posters and catalogs and the auction of one of her art works, nearly $5,000 was raised for the Humane Society.

Beth Edwards: Over Time

Please join us November 4th and 5th, 2016 at Clough-Hanson Gallery as we celebrate the opening of Beth Edwards: Over Time. This is the artist’s first career retrospective, presented in partnership with ArtsMemphis and Metropolitan Bank, who presented Edwards with the 2016 Emmett O’Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration. Over Time considers Edwards’ nearly thirty-year career, revealing her to be a painter of tremendous sensitivity and dogged devotion to her craft.

The opening reception will be Friday, November 4 from 5:00 to 7:00, and you won’t want to miss Edwards’ talk on November 3 at 6:00 PM in Blount Auditorium, Buckman Hall.

2015 Emmett Award: Frank D Robinson, Jr.

Frank D. Robinson Jr. is the recipient of the fifth annual Emmett O’Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration, given by Memphis-based Metropolitan Bank to a local artist whose original work indicates continued artistic significance. Robinson, was nominated for the award by Memphis Brook Museum of Art. The award comes with a $2,000 cash award and the nominating organization receives $500. Mr. Robinson’s work is created in various mediums, including paint, pencil, markers, and interesting objects he happens to find. Mr. Robinson’s addresses many relevant social issues, reminding us that art has the ability to convey powerful messages and to address the need for social change.

2014 Emmett Award: Leandra Urrutia

Mrs. Urrutia is an Associate Professor and Department Head for Ceramics at Memphis College of Art.  She has a BFA in Drawing and Ceramics from Southwest Texas State University, and an MFA in Ceramics from the University of Mississippi. Urrutia, three American sculptors and four master sculptors from China have developed plans for Summer 2015 called the Studio Nong Residencies. During the residency the Chinese master sculptors will be introduced to American culture and artistic traditions while also giving lectures, demonstrations and exhibitions for Memphis artists and students. Urrutia’s efforts as a Hispanic artist and faculty member help to shape and inspire future artists. 

2013 Emmett Award: Alan Spearman

Alan Spearman, a Memphis filmmaker,  received the third annual Emmett O’Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration in February 2013. View his film As I Am.

Spearman, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and photojournalist, made his directorial debut in 2007 with the feature film, Nobody. In 2012, he completed five short films including As I Am, a project recently named by the video-sharing website Vimeo as one of its top 12 videos of 2012. The film follows Chris Dean, the Booker T. Washington High School student who introduced President Barack Obama at his high school graduation. It is a poignant depiction of the battle of everyday life  faced by children who grow up on the streets of South Memphis.  As I Am won both the Audience Award for Hometowner Film and the Jury Award for Best Hometowner Documentary Short at the 2012 Indie Memphis Film Festival. Spearman was nominated for the Emmett O’Ryan Award by Indie Memphis.

2012 Emmett Award: Anthony D. Lee

Anthony Lee has been featured in numerous exhibitions locally and was honored by Metropolitan Bank with the Emmett O'Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration in 2012. His Modern Hieroglyphs mural at Central Station in the South Main Arts District was recognized as one of the 40 most outstanding public art projects in the nation by Americans for the Arts for 2009. Lee’s works are on view in February at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens as a part of Present Tense: 2001-Now and Singular Masses: An Examination of Racial Identity at Memphis College of Art.

2010 Emmett Award: Mary Catherine Floyd

In 2010, Mary Catherine Floyd became the first recipient of the annual Emmett O'Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration given by Metropolitan Bank. A former Metal Museum Blacksmith Apprentice and Artist-in-Residence, Floyd's artwork has been exhibited at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Levy Gallery, Jack Robinson Gallery, Opera Memphis and Ballet Memphis and was featured in the traveling exhibition Iron 2010. Floyd is currently drawing on her expertise and personal experiences in metal and fiber arts. Since completing her apprenticeship at the Metal Museum, Mary Catherine Floyd has been working on her jewelry line, Color Block Jewelry, and has set-up a new metal working studio located in Raleigh, North Carolina.