Athens, Ga. – A book co-authored by Judith McWillie, professor of drawing and painting at UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art, has been awarded the James Mooney Prize by the Southern Anthropological Association (SAS). McWillie and co-author Grey Gundaker, an associate professor of American studies at the College of William and Mary, were recognized for their work No Space Hidden: The Spirit of African American Yard Work (University of Tennessee Press, 2005).
In No Space Hidden, McWillie and Gundaker combine oral testimony, firsthand documentation of sites and artworks, insightful analysis, and more than two hundred photographs to explore African-American devotional arts centered in homes and domestic landscapes. Focusing primarily, though not exclusively, on the southeastern United States, the book examines works ranging from James Hampton’s well-known Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly (now part of the Smithsonian collection), to several elaborately decorated yards and gardens, to smaller-scale acts of commemoration, protection, and witness that African Americans have created in and near their homes.
The authors show how the artful arrangement and adornment of everyday objects and plants express both the makers’ own experiences and concerns and a number of rich and sustaining cultural traditions. McWillie and Gundaker point out that a remarkable consistency is apparent in the goals of those who create these works: service to God, justice on earth, and community improvement are chief among their aims.
The James Mooney Award recognizes and encourages distinguished anthropological scholarship on the South and southerners. Books are judged by a committee of anthropologists from a number of subfields in the discipline. The award was presented in a ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the University of Mississippi during the SAS annual conference. For more information, visit the SAS Web site at http://www.southernanthro.org/default.htm.