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Delta State artists named tops by MIAL

By June 19, 2006General

Andrew Owen

Robyn Moore

One would have been phenomenal, two is simply unprecedented.


The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters (MIAL) recently announced its winners of the 2006 MIAL Awards, with Delta State University collecting an unmatched two of the five top prizes behind Robyn Moore’s selection in the photography competition and Andrew Owen’s honor in the music competition.


The duo’s victory marks the seventh and eighth, respectively, MIAL recognition for Delta State University. Moore and Owen join alumni Lewis Nordan, Sylvain Klaus and Charles Carraway; former faculty members Tom Rankin and Marion Barnwell; and current Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Collier Parker.


Moore, an assistant professor of Photography and Video at Delta State, earned MIAL recognition with her entry, “Atmosphere Lit Apart,” a series of silver-gelatin prints made with pinhole camera/lenses. According to Sam Wang, distinguished professor of art at Clemson University and MIAL photography judge, “By using the simple pinhole lens, images captured do not tell a particular moment in time, but the duration of a conversation, a visit. Time stood still. What the viewer is presented then is a capsule of lives lived and perhaps even a tremendous sense of nostalgia. This process takes photography beyond the usual function of recording details, of recording a particular moment.”


Joining Moore on the winner’s podium was 18-year-old Owen. His recognition marks the youngest recipient of an MIAL award. His collection, “Three Etudes,” garnered first-place in the musical composition competition. Set to enter his sophomore year this fall at Delta State University, the Cleveland resident is majoring in both music (vocal performance) and English.


Of Owen’s composition, MIAL judge S. Patrick Flynn offered, “the three etudes for solo piano composed by Andrew Owen are very entertaining. The programmatic quality as indicated by the composer is equally satisfying. At a still very young age, Andrew Owen has demonstrated that he has an immense talent in the area of musical composition. Without a doubt, Mr. Owen will continue to mature as an artist and so become a leading contributor to the musical arts of this millennium.”


His leadership on the Delta State campus is already evident, as Owen, behind a 4.0 GPA, was selected by Omicron Delta Kappa as the recipient of the Freshman Leadership Award, awarded annually to the freshman showing the greatest propensity for leadership.


A member of the DSU Chamber Singers and the Chorale, Owen is the son of Rev. Billy N. Owen, pastor of Cleveland First United Methodist Church and Merigold United Methodist Church, and Renelda Pharr Owen, an instructor in the English department at Delta State.

Other MIAL winners in 2006 included Tom Bailey, winner of the Fiction Award for his novel, “The Grace That Keeps This World;” Suzanne Marrs, winner of the Non-fiction Award winner for her book, “Eudora Welty: A Biography;” and Thomas Nawrocki, winner of the top Visual Arts prize for a traveling exhibition of his prints and fiber space work.

In its 27th year, Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters celebrates Mississippi’s artists and writers. Its juried competition is one of a kind in the state. Either current or former residents of Mississippi, winners are chosen after a rigorous juried competition by out-of-state judges, all prominent in their fields. First nominated made by the membership of MIAL, winners were announced at a formal award presentation this past month at the Oxford Convention Center. Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Thomas C. Meredith served as emcee for the event.

As part of the award ceremony, MIAL hosted a series of other events for winners, nominees, and MIAL members. Highlights included a Double Decker bus tour with Beckett Howorth, a tour of Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner, and a special exhibition of the award winning quilts of Gwendolyn McGee at the
University Museum. Works by winners and nominees will be available at Square Books, Southside Gallery, and Hotdog Records.

Ann Abadie and Patty Lewis, members of the MIAL Board of Governors, are chairs of the awards event.  Other board members are: Marion Barnwell, Jackson; George Bassi, Laurel; Courtney Blossman, Ocean Springs; Bonnie Davidson, Tupelo; Charles Gates, Oxford; Shane Gong, Jackson; Nancy Guice, Laurel; Donzell Lee, Alcorn State; Will Long, Greenwood; Aubrey Lucas, Hattiesburg; Gwendolyn Magee, Jackson; JoAnne Prichard Morris, Jackson; Margaret Anne Mitchell, Jackson;
Collier Parker, Boyle; Noel Polk, Starkville; Kim Rushing, Cleveland; Nan Sanders, Cleveland; Dorothy Shawhan
, Cleveland; Sandra Shellnut, Pass Christian; Carolyn Vance Smith, Natchez; Jan Taylor, Jackson; Swan Yerger, Jackson; Mark Wiggs, Jackson; and Leila Wynn, Greenville.

For more information on MIAL, please visit the web site at