Press Release  April 17, 2019

Mississippi Artist Rory Doyle Wins Southern Prize

Courtesy the artist

Rory Doyle, Big Mac Dancing, 2017

Atlanta – Artist Rory Doyle of Cleveland, Mississippi was awarded the 2019 Southern Prize by South Arts at an event this week in the 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, South Carolina. Doyle, a photographer whose work documents the Mississippi Delta’s “Delta Hill Riders” African-American cowboy subculture, received a $25,000 cash award and a two-week residency at The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences. Florida sculptor Amy Gross, whose hand-embroidered and beaded fiber pieces explore the balance of natural life and unnatural environments, received the Southern Prize Finalist award of $10,000.

Doyle and Gross were among the nine South Arts State Fellowship recipients honored at the event, each of whom received a $5,000 award. All nine artists’ work is also on display at the 701 Center for Contemporary Arts through May 5.

Courtesy the artist

Amy Gross, Silver Bees and Black and White Warblers, Adapting, 2018. Paper, yarn, thread, beads, wire, plastic.

The South Arts State Fellowships are juried, state-specific competitive awards to visual artists representing the nine states served by South Arts, and are selected through a blind process which considers only artistic excellence. The 2019 State Fellowship award recipients are:

Courtesy the artist

Andrew Hayes, Chevron, 2018. Fabricated steel and book paper.

  • Jamey Grimes. Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Sculpture.
  • Amy Gross. Delray Beach, Florida. Sculpture.
  • Bo Bartlett. Columbus, Georgia. Painting.
  • Lori Larusso. Lexington, Kentucky. Painting.
  • Stephanie Patton. Lafayette, Louisiana. Multidisciplinary.
  • Rory Doyle. Cleveland, Mississippi. Photography.
  • Andrew Hayes. Asheville, North Carolina. Sculpture.
  • Virginia Scotchie. Columbia, South Carolina. Crafts.
  • Andrew Scott Ross. Johnson City, Tennessee. Multidisciplinary.

The Southern Prize and State Fellowships, explained Doyle following the ceremony, are impactful for artists and the communities in which they work. “I am very thankful to have received this award, along with my other State Fellows, both personally and professionally. Working on a project that directly involves my neighbors and the community surrounding me, the Southern Prize will support me continuing to do this work, but also to find creative ways to give back to the people who are part of my project so they can feel this impact as well. The shared, community aspect is priceless.” 

Now in their third year, the South Arts Southern Prize and State Fellowships celebrate and support the highest quality artistic work being created in the South. Over 800 visual artists submitted work for consideration, and a national panel of jurors reviewed each application with the sole criterion of artistic excellence to determine the nine State Fellows. A second national panel of jurors reviewed the State Fellows to determine the Southern Prize winner and finalist. Each panel is conducted blind, with the applicants’ identities and information withheld from the jurors.

Courtesy the artist

Jamey Grimes, Wash, 2018. Corrugated plastic.

The State Fellowship jurors were Mora J. Beauchamp-Byrd with the Oklahoma State University; Katherine Jentleson with the High Museum in Atlanta; Radhika Subramaniam with Parsons School of Design; Ben Thompson with the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Jacksonville, Florida; and Joey Yates with the Kentucky Museum of Craft. The Southern Prize jurors were Wassan Al-Khudhairi, chief curator with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; René Paul Barilleaux, head of curatorial affairs with the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio; and Leslie Umberger with the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Visual artists living in South Arts’ nine-state region and producing crafts, drawing, experimental, painting, photography, sculpture, mixed media, and multidisciplinary work were eligible to apply. The awards are presented to the artists as unrestricted funds. To view the 2019 Southern Prize and State Fellows’ submissions and learn more about the competition, visit

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