Spencer, Bouldin to receive Miss. arts awards

Published 11:23 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters will honor several literary, musical and visual artists this weekend, with Lifetime Achievement Awards going to author Elizabeth Spencer and portrait artist Marshall Bouldin III.

The annual awards ceremony and banquet is Saturday at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel. Each recipient will be awarded $1,000 and a Mississippi-made gift.

The winning artists were selected for works shown or published in 2008.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Judges from outside Mississippi chose the winners, who must have significant ties to the state and must have been nominated by an MIAL member.

Spencer is the author of nine novels, seven short story collections and a memoir about growing up in the Mississippi Delta town of Carrollton, “Landscapes of the Heart.” Her novel “The Light in the Piazza” was made into a movie in 1962 and a musical that ran on Broadway for 504 performances in 2005 and 2006.

“Her mother was a McCain, so she has a significant connection to Teoc out here,” said Will Long of Greenwood, former MIAL president. “She’s been a lifelong friend to this state and a productive author, so we’re happy to honor her and give her this award.”

Spencer was teaching at the University of Mississippi when she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1953, so she left Oxford to live in Italy and pursue writing full time.

She now lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., where she taught at the University of North Carolina from 1986 until her retirement.

Bouldin was once cited by the New York Times as “the South’s foremost portrait painter.”

He lives in Clarksdale, where he worked on his family’s cotton farm until becoming a full-time portraitist in 1956. Since then, he has painted the likenesses of more than 800 people, including William Faulkner, Mississippi Gov. William F. Winter, Sister Thea Bowman and Richard Nixon’s daughters, Tricia and Julie.

Bouldin was the first inductee of the National Portrait Artist Hall of Fame, and his work has been displayed in the White House and in more than 400 public and private collections throughout the country.

Greenwood native Jane Rule Burdine was recognized in the photography category for her work published in “Delta Deep Down,” edited by Wendy McDaris and with an introduction by novelist Steve Yarbrough. Burdine now lives in Taylor.

This year’s other MIAL award winners include:

— Howard Bahr (Fiction) for his novel “Pelican Road.” The novel, set during the heyday of railroading in America, focuses on the men who ran the trains. Bahr was born in Meridian and now lives in Jackson.

— Douglas A. Blackmon (Non-Fiction), a Leland native, for “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” which also won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction. Blackmon is head of the Atlanta office of the Wall Street Journal.

— H.C. Porter (Visual Arts) for the traveling exhibition of her work “Backyards and Beyond: Mississippians and Their Stories — The First Year after Katrina,” which also has a companion book with an introduction written by poet Natasha Trethewey. Porter was born in Jackson and now lives in Vicksburg.

— Brooks Haxton (Poetry), a Greenville native, for his collection “They Lift Their Wings to Cry.” Haxton teaches English and writing at Syracuse University and Warren Wilson College. He is the son of author Ellen Douglas, last year’s MIAL Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

— Steve Rouse (Classical/Concert Music Composition) for “Between Stillness.” Rouse was born in Moss Point, holds a degree in music composition from the University of Southern Mississippi and lives in Louisville, Ky.

— 3 Doors Down (Contemporary/Popular Music Composition) for its CD “3 Doors Down.” Founder Matt Roberts was born in Pascagoula. Other members are Brad Arnold, Matt Roberts, Todd Harrell and Chris Henderson.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of MIAL, so as part of the celebration, the Lauren Rogers Museum is organizing an exhibition featuring MIAL Award winners in visual art and photography over the past three decades.

The exhibit opens Saturday and remains on display through Aug. 2. It will feature work by many Mississippi artists, including William Dunlap, Sam Gilliam, Birney Imes, Mildred Wolfe, Maude Schuyler Clay, Eudora Welty, Wyatt Waters and Charles Carraway.

On the Net:

MIAL, http://www.ms-arts-letters.org