Memphis Flyer, by Jon W. Sparks - Yvonne Bobo has been named recipient of the Emmett O’Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration, known as “The Emmett.”
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 award amount has increased, resulting in more than $60,000 granted to individual artists.
Bobo is a sculptor, metal fabricator, designer, and engineer. The announcement from ArtsMemphis says that 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.”
Bobo’s work is in Memphis public spaces, including Peabody Park, Overton Park, Overton Square, Southside Park, and Raleigh Springs Town Center. It’s also in 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 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.”
Images of Bobo’s work throughout Memphis are on display at the Renasant Convention Center.