CDS Post-MFA Fellow Sherrill Roland Wins Southern Prize

A diptych featuring a photo of Sherrill Roland on the left and a photo from the Jumpsuit Project DC walk on the right.

Artist Sherrill Roland, a Post-MFA Fellow in the Documentary Arts at the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) in 2018–19, was awarded the 2020 Southern Prize by South Arts on May 18. Winning a South Arts State Fellowship put Roland in competition for the prestigious $25,000 prize, which includes a residency at the Hambidge Center. The prize and fellowships are selected by national juries and “acknowledge, support, and celebrate the highest quality artistic work being created in the American South;” see the South Arts announcement about Roland and other honorees.

The North Carolina native is the founder of the acclaimed Jumpsuit Project, work that grew out of personal history—a three-year period arising from a wrongful conviction and incarceration. That interactive project continues to evolve, and he has performed and presented it around the country.

As a Post-MFA Fellow in CDS’s Documentary Diversity Project (DDP), Roland created and performed new elements of the Jumpsuit Project in Washington, D.C. Other DDP artists supported Roland while documenting a six-mile walk and events at Georgetown’s Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery. Read more in CDS exhibition intern Amber Delgado’s Oxford American story, “On Being Seen.”

“We are thrilled beyond measure to see Sherrill receive this kind of recognition,” said Courtney Reid-Eaton, CDS’s exhibitions director and creative director of the DDP. “He is a thoughtful, driven person, persistently exploring ways that his work can expand and deepen and be of service to people in and outside of the U.S. carceral system. His contributions to the Documentary Diversity Project as the 2018–19 Post-MFA Fellow culminated in a transformative pilgrimage for us. We celebrate his continuing success and are grateful to be in community with him.”