Emmett O'Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration

2014 Emmett Award Winner : 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 continuously seeks to enhance her skills and knowledge as a professor and studio artist. She is working to establish a residency and exchange with Chinese master sculptors.  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 to inspire shape and mold the future artists of our community are of great importance to Memphis. 

“The Emmett,” which honors Emmett O’Ryan, a founding board member of Metropolitan Bank, is given annually to a visual artist recognized for his or her work and promise for future artistic significance.

Eligibility: Nonprofit visual arts organizations and museums and galleries that are part of a college or university in Shelby County may nominate an artist associated with their organization. Nominees must be at a defining moment in their career. Only one nomination per organization is allowed.

Nomination Process: The nomination must be made by the Executive Director of the organization and submitted via email to Lauren Boyer (lboyer [at] artsmemphis [dot] org) by end of day January 23, 2014.

The nomination should include:

a. Nominee name and contact information (address, phone, email)

b. Description of how the artist is affiliated with the nominating organization

c. Up to five examples of the nominee’s work

d. Summary of how the award funds will be used to help the artist further his/her career and a description of the need for this award

e. Summary of how the artist’s work benefits nominating organization and the community

Grant Amount: The selected artist receives a $2,000 cash award, and his or her nominating organization receives $500.

Timeline: A panel from Metropolitan Bank and Mr. O’Ryan’s family will meet in late January to determine the winner. The winner will be announced at a reception honoring all nominees in late February. 

Photo: Leandra Urrutia accepts the 2014 Emmett Award.

Contact: Lauren Boyer (lboyer [at] artsmemphis [dot] org or 901.578.2787)

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.