Acquired through the generosity of the Harris McCoy Family of North Side, the McCoy Collection is comprised of winning art items from the annual McCoy Prize Art Competition held since 2001.
Nickola McCoy, My Life's View, 2001, Oil on canvas, 46 x 72 in.
The McCoy Prize is Founded/Launched in 2001
The public launch of the McCoy Prize took place in May 2001/November 2001 during the opening/closing of the exhibit “The Real McCoy: An Exhibition of Authentic Caymanian Furniture by Wilbanks Miller”. Most of the pieces were on loan from the Harris McCoy family of North Side.
Mr. Harris McCoy III as creator and benefactor/sponsor of the McCoy Prize commented “I am delighted to be a part of such a worthwhile undertaking, and to continue the tradition started by my grandparents some 80 years ago of supporting Caymanian artistsans. It is my hope that this prize will create a continued support in the community for things Caymanian, and instills pride and deserved respect for the talents of Caymanian artists.”
The press release stated that, “In order to encourage and reward excellence in Caymanian contemporary arts, the Cayman Islands National Museum and the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands jointly host an annual competition and exhibition to be known as the McCoy Prize. The McCoy Prize, privately sponsored by the McCoy family of North Side, will be awarded to one Caymanian artist each year whose work shows substantial improvement due to commitment and education. Caymanian artists will be invited to submit two pieces of artwork, in any medium, which previously have not been exhibited. All submitted works will be on display in the National Museum, and the winner of the McCoy Prize will receive CI$1,500.00 in cash and $1,500 to attend an art educational programme. The prize-winner will be asked to donate one piece of work created within the year after receiving the prize to the National Museum’s permanent collection. The collection will be called the McCoy Collection.”
The First McCoy Prize Exhibition & Award in 2002
The first McCoy Prize exhibition took place at the National Museum in May 2002 with 44 pieces of art by 25 artists. On August 17th at the award ceremony the painting “Years in Review” by Nickola McCoy (no family to the sponsors) was announced as the winner, which had earlier been voted on by a panel of five judges. The exposure of being the First McCoy Prize Winner has played an important role in her future and present training, work and growth/development as an artist.
The Award Design
Wray Banker, artist, designed the award for the McCoy Prize based on the steeple of the early North Side United Church. The spire of the steeple was preserved by the McCoy family and later donated to the National Museum. The soaring church spire against a blue sky reflects the heights of creative achievement the McCoy Prize is intended to inspire and acknowledge. Sculptor Horacio Esteban crafted the award from Caymanian mahogany and local limestone.
2003: The 2nd McCoy Prize Competition & Exhibition
During this year the Benefactors gave additional money to create a second award category, that for Fine Craft. The now popular “People’s Choice” award was introduced from ballots cast by the general public during the run of the Exhibition. The National Gallery hosted this 2nd McCoy Prize. The winner for Fine Art was “Transfiguration” by Randy Smith, and the winner for Fine Craft was blown glass by Davin Ebanks.
2004: The 3rd McCoy Prize Competition & Exhibition
During this year the Benefactors gave additional money to create a third award category, that for Fine Art Photography. The third annual McCoy Prize Competition and Exhibition opened during the National Museum’s celebration of International Museum’s Day, May 22, 2004.
With the interruption of Hurricane Ivan, the awarding of the prizes was a bit delayed, but the event was finally held on Saturday, November 20, in conjunction with the 14th anniversary of the National Museum. As Museum Director Anita Ebanks expressed at the event, “Throughout the ages, art has been used as a healing medium for spiritual expression, and this is why the arts are needed in Cayman now more than ever. Hurricane Ivan may have taken our possessions and changed our lives, but it didn’t dampen the creative energy of our people. Seeing your faces here today, I know that this energy remains very much alive.”
The judges awarded the 2004 McCoy Prize for Fine Art to Randy Chollette for “Chollette Chalet”; in the Fine Craft category a group known as the “Cayman Quilters”, garnered the award; and in the latest addition to the Prize, Fine Art Photography, “Young Salt” by Lennon Christian won the award.
2005: The 4th McCoy Prize Competition & Exhibition
The fourth annual McCoy Prize Competition and Exhibition opened at the National Gallery on May 28th. The judges awarded the 2005 McCoy Prize for Fine Art to Aston Ebanks for “Overexposed Goodness”; no award was given out in the Fine Craft category due to the few entries and the quality of the work (the effects of Post Ivan) ; Art Pasquali, “The Colours of Ivan” won the award for Fine Art Photography.
2006: The 5th McCoy Prize Competition & Exhibition
In 2006, a number of changes were made to the awards structure. The purpose of the restructuring was to further promote and reward the attainment of excellence. This year for first time entries were subject to a pre-jury process, with reference to the criteria the judges would in due course be using. The judges were shown one piece of work at a time, with the artists not being identified. The work was scored with reference to set criteria that focused on the objective elements of the making of visual art, such as Design, Composition, and Craftsmanship. This was the most rigorous judging process so far in the history of the Prize.
Unlike previous years, was no stipulation made as to the use of the cash awards given (Previously winners were required to use part of the Award funds for educational purposes, part for work materials.) This year the winners of the Fine Art, Fine Art Photography, and Fine Craft categories would each receive a cash award in the sum of CI$2,000 each. In addition, a new award “Best in Show” was introduced with a further purse of CI$4,000 for the overall piece of art. The maker of the “Best in Show” piece would also be featured in a solo exhibition of their work, within the succeeding twelve months. The sponsor’s cash awards have grown from CI$3,000 to CI$10,000.
The “People’s Choice” award continued, the winner chosen by votes cast by persons attending the exhibition. The “Artists’ Award” was newly introduced and would be decided by balloting amongst the artists, photographers, and craftspersons whose pieces are on show. Neither the People’s Choice nor the Artists’ Award has any monetary component. Neither shall figure into the assessment by the panel of judges, of any of the works.
The National Museum hosted the event at their temporary Administrative Offices and Support Facility on May 26th. The judges awarded the 2006 McCoy Prize for Fine Art to “Maiden Plum” by Nasaria Suckoo Chollette; in the Fine Craft category the “The Dirty Necklace” by Bracer, Tenson Scott garnered the award; and in the Fine Art Photography category, “The Light Bath” by Sheree Ebanks won the award. Mr. Tenson Scott’s necklace also won the first ever “Best in Show” award. He was also recognized by his peers as the artist most deserving of the first Artists’ Award.
Successes of Winners
The exposure of being a McCoy Prize Winner has played an important role in the future and present training, work and growth/development of the winning artists over the past six years. Some have used this door of opportunity better than others by committing themselves to develop their talents more fully in their chosen medium or learning a new one.
It’s Role in the Overall Development of Caymanian Artistic Expression
Some thoughts from the Sponsors, Administrators, and Judges:
The McCoy Prize represents an important benchmark in the continuing efforts to assist our artists in forging a Caymanian aesthetic. The Harris McCoy of North Side has chosen to support our Caymanian artists by rewarding the winners for their excellence; encouraging all participants to continue to work and grow; and giving all Caymanian artists a venue to showcase their best work. It is clear from the works submitted over the years that there is a more mature and informed kind of thinking among Caymanian artists. The submissions are more diverse and thought provoking. The McCoy Prize is the premier fine art event in the Cayman Islands, celebrating the uniqueness of the aesthetic approach that is Caymanian art.
2007: 6TH McCoy Prize
Its creators and sponsors, the Harris Arlene McCoy family of North Side personal goal was to protect, promote and showcase our Caymanian heritage. The mission of the McCoy Prize Annual Art Competition was to encourage and reward excellence in Caymanian produced fine art, fine craft, and fine art photography by advancing and exposing Caymanian art and artists.