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Center for Louisiana Studies honors recipients of James W. Rivers Prize

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A photographer and a cultural anthropologist will receive the 2016 and 2017 James William Rivers Prize in Louisiana Studies.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Center for Louisiana Studies announced the recipients Wednesday.

Philip Gould will receive the 2016 James William Rivers Prize for his extensive photography of Louisiana’s people and places. The 2017 Rivers Prize will honor cultural anthropologist Maida Owens.

The prize selection committee chose Gould for his “exemplary and artistic photographic documentation of our state's people and its cultural, social and historical landscape, created over the course of more than four decades.”

A native of Massachusetts, Gould has lived in Louisiana since 1974.  His photographs have been featured in more than a dozen books and other publications.

In 1996, he won the Louisiana Governor’s Arts Award for Best Artist. In 2009, he became the first recipient of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ Michael P. Smith Award for Documentary Photography.

The committee cited Owens’ “longstanding commitment to and leadership in preserving and expanding our understanding of Louisiana's cultures through folkloric survey work and the dissemination of research through innovative and diverse channels and media.”

She has served as folklife program director for the Louisiana Division of the Arts for nearly three decades, and through her work has identified traditional folk artists, musicians, storytellers and craftsmen within the state.

In 2015, she received the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize for lifetime achievement in public folklore from the American Folklore Society.

She was project director for the Baton Rouge Folklife Survey and the New Populations Initiative; and was co-editor of “Delta Pieces: Northeast Louisiana Folklife” and the “Louisiana Voice’s Educator Guide.”

Owens was assistant producer and researcher for the documentary “Dance for a Chicken: The Cajun Mardi Gras.” The film received the 1993 American Anthropological Award of Excellence and the 1993 American Association for the State and Local History Award of Merit.

The James William Rivers Prize in Louisiana Studies was established with private donations to honor outstanding scholarly study or teaching about the state and its people.

Rivers was a New Orleans architect and graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He died in 1991.

Previous honorees included architect A. Hays Town; folklorist Dr. Barry Ancelet; author Dr. Ernest Gaines; musician Ellis Marsalis; author James Lee Burke; historian Dr. Carl Brasseaux; artist George Rodrigue; and restaurateur Leah Chase.

A private awards ceremony later this month will honor Gould and Owens.

Photo caption: Philip Gould photo courtesy of Romero and Romero. Maida Owens photo courtesy of Patrick Dennis / The (Baton Rouge) Advocate.