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Arts writing excellence

R. Tripp Evans receives national book award

Professor of Art History R. Tripp Evans has received one of the country’s most prestigious literary prizes given to a single author, the National Award for Arts Writing.

Evans received the award for his biography Grant Wood: A Life (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010). Given annually by the Arts Club of Washington in recognition of excellence in writing about the arts, the award, also known as the Marfield Prize, is presented to the author of a book published in the previous year about any artistic discipline (visual, performance, media or literary). Celebrating “lucid, luminous, clear and inspiring writing that creates a strong connection with arts and artists,” this national arts award is unique in the world of publishing.

The 2010 award judges were E. Ethelbert Miller, a poet and director of the African-American Resource Center at Howard University; Katherine Neville, a New York Times bestselling novelist; and Michael Martone, professor of English and director of the creative writing program at the University of Alabama.

Evans will present a public reading from Grant Wood: A Life at the Arts Club of Washington on May 11, 2011, at 7 p.m., at 2017 I Street NW, Washington, D.C. The following evening he will be honored at a formal award dinner at the Arts Club.

In addition to survey courses at Wheaton College, Evans teaches courses in modern architecture, the art of the United States, and Native American/pre-Columbian art. He also has recently developed a number of specialized courses in African American art, the development of the skyscraper, and feminist art history.

The professor, who this fall completed a 16-city book tour, has received many favorable reviews for Grant Wood: A Life. The New York Times praised Evans’s “provocative” work, and the Boston Globe hailed the book as “a rich and compelling portrait” of the painter best known for his iconic painting “American Gothic.”

“The book reflects my fascination with 1930s modernism, and in particular, with the way nationalist themes in American art have often been driven by highly personal motive,” Evans says. “This is a favorite theme in the American art classes I teach at Wheaton, and one that I hope to expand upon.”

Read a Q&A with Evans about the book in the spring issue of the Wheaton Quarterly.