FORT SCOTT, Kans. — Three recipients of the Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award have been named by the Fordon Parks Museum and Fort Scott Community College. Tommy Dodson, Mario E. Sprouse, and Deborah Willis are the recipients of the award at the annual celebration in October in Fort Scott, Kansas.
Tommy Dodson has maintained a 50-year-long career as a musician, composer, author, and photographer. He has toured with his band in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
Dodson spent time pursuing his music career in Los Angeles before he was drafted into the U.S. Army where he entertained at a club on base. After the military, Dodson studied photography and had his work published in popular magazines like Better Homes and Gardens. In 2014, he relocated to Palm Springs and where he continues to entertain local venues and create monthly videos on Youtube.
Mario E. Sprouse has been working in music, theater, and film for over 50 years. He is a graduate of the City College of New York with a B.A. in Music Composition and theory. He has been the Arts Ministry Coordinator for Marble Collegiate Church and Associate Director for the media ministry of Marble.
Sprouse was the Music Supervisor for three films by Gordon Parks and was also his musical assistant for over 20 years. He also produced Parks’ first CD of classical music. Sprouse is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Gordon Parks Foundation. He was named a Visionary of the Foundation for Spirituality and the Arts.
Sprouse has his work performed live and Gregory Hines and Phylicia Rashaad, alongside multiple known jazz artists that have recorded his musical arrangements.
Deborah Willis, Ph.D., is the New York University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts. She is also the director of NYU’s Center for Black Visual Culture/Institute of African American Affairs. She is affiliated with the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Social & Cultural Analysis, and the Institute of Fine Arts where she teaches courses on Photography and Imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the Black body, women, and gender.
Willis has been awarded many fellowships in African, American, and African American Art. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was named the Mary Lucille Dauray Artist-in-Residence by the Norton Museum of Art.
The Choice of Weapons Award was established in Gordon Park’s honor to be given annually at the annual celebration during October in Fort Scott. More information will be updated as it is available.