MEMPHIS, TN – ArtsMemphis is pleased to announce artist Yvonne Bobo as the recipient of the prestigious Emmett O’Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration, known as “The Emmett,” made possible by Renasant Bank.
The Emmett is awarded annually by Renasant Bank to a distinguished visual artist in Shelby County. This is the 10th year of this award, which now carries a $10,000 prize—the largest unrestricted cash award given to a visual artist in Shelby County. It is named in honor of Emmett O'Ryan, a founding Board Member of Metropolitan Bank, which merged with Renasant in 2017. Since the award’s inception, the annual award amount has increased, resulting in over $60,000 that has been granted to individual artists.
“Renasant Bank is pleased to partner with ArtsMemphis each year and honor the memory of Emmett O’Ryan,” said Dan Reid, Renasant’s President, West TN. “We are honored to be part of the O’Ryan family’s legacy and shared commitment to the arts and greater work in our community. Celebrating the 10th Emmett Award this year signals Renasant Bank’s commitment to supporting individual artists in our community.”
The 2021 recipient Yvonne Bobo is a sculptor, metal fabricator, designer, and engineer. Although metal is her primary medium, her passion lies in mixed media combining glass, steel, wood, lighting, plastics and more. Yvonne’s art focuses on the interaction between invention and nature. Her wind-activated art captures the playful character of a breeze and creates a constantly changing experience for the viewer.
Much of Yvonne’s work exists in Memphis public spaces like Peabody Park, Overton Park, Overton Square, Southside Park, and Raleigh Springs Town Center. Her reverence for nature is inspirational to viewers and comforts them in locations like Cancer Survivors Park, West Cancer Clinic, Methodist Transplant at Shorb Tower and LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.
Nominees for The Emmett are selected by a committee comprised of artists, curators, and ArtsMemphis volunteers, including Ruthie O’Ryan Lichterman, daughter of the award’s namesake. Finalists for this year’s award included visual artists Coriana Close and Erin Harmon.
“We’re so grateful for Renasant’s continued contributions to our arts sector, especially through this generous award,” said ArtsMemphis President and CEO Elizabeth Rouse. “The vision for this award inspired ArtsMemphis’ individual artist grant program, ArtsAccelerator. Together, these programs have provided $225,000 in funding to local artists. And because of these programs, we were prepared to stock up in 2020 with an Artist Emergency fund that provided over $600,000 in relief to individual artists in partnership with Music Export Memphis.. Renasant’s commitment to this award, now in its 10th year, demonstrates corporate leadership in recognizing and valuing the work of creatives and their importance to our community and economy.”
Images of Yvonne’s work throughout Memphis, brought to life with sculptural elements, are now on display at the Renasant Convention Center.
ArtsMemphis, the Mid-South’s primary arts funder, invested $2.2 million in 64 arts groups and hundreds of artists in 2021. During the COVID pandemic, ArtsMemphis has elevated its role as convener and connector for the arts sector by helping arts organizations maintain, rework business plans, create virtual arts events and develop reopening protocols. ArtsMemphis works to sustain Memphis’ world-renowned cultural vitality and strengthen local communities through the arts by driving arts support and investing in organizations and artists. Learn more at artsmemphis.org.
Renasant Corporation, a 117-year-old financial services institution, is the parent of Renasant Bank. Renasant has assets of approximately $16.2 billion and operates 200 banking, mortgage, financial services and insurance offices throughout Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. For more information please visit www.renasantbank.com.