The Oxford Comma founder, Writer’s Guild member receives Mississippi Arts Commission Grant

Published 10:15 am Monday, July 11, 2022

Elizabeth Tettleton Mason of Oxford, MS has been awarded a $500 grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission. This grant is a portion of the more than $1.4 million in grants MAC awarded in Fiscal Year 2022 and will be used to fund her work on a exploring Native American Foodways of the Southeast and producing essays on the topic.

These grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.  

“The state’s arts community has displayed such resiliency during tumultuous times, and we are very pleased to provide grants to these worthy artists,” said Sarah Story, executive director of MAC. “Mississippi’s artistic legacy was built through the talents of its exceptionally creative citizens. These funds help support the next generation of amazing artists and ensure that the story of artistic excellence in our state lives on.”

Tettleton Mason is a Mississippi Native and is an employee in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Mississippi. She is active in the local arts community and creates events focused on literature and creative writing.

Tettleton Mason is the founder of The Oxford Comma, a creative writing workshop, and the Oxford Chapter of the Mississippi Writers Guild. She is pursuing a Masters of Business Administration and is a freelance writer who is passionate about advocating for restaurateurs, chefs, foodways, and culinary traditions. She is deeply curious about how food and the people who create it impact the world we live in. 

“I am excited to see where this grant can lead me,” said Tettleton Mason. “I hope my writing and collecting of oral histories will put a spotlight on the chefs, cooks, and every-day-meal-makers of native foods in the South. There are rich traditions of foods from the land that have been cultivated by the first peoples of our country. I hope my writing will help to create a space for them to share their lived experiences and take back the narrative.”

“There is a lot of work that is being done across American, but Mississippi has a unique relationship with food who can be the ‘the creators’ and the ‘gatekeepers’ of the culinary world than the rest of the country. We are well known for our food insecurity, food deserts, and obesity – but we do not have recognition for our food traditions, our history, and our impact on the rest of the United States,” she continued. “There is an urgent need for the Southeast to make a stand for seed and food sovereignty for Native Americans, and to embrace pre-colonial native food traditions. Many Americans have very little awareness of the origins of the foods they consume everyday – and most importantly – the food that is longer around.”

The Mississippi Arts Commission is a state agency serving more than two million people through grants and special initiatives that enhance communities, assist artists and arts organizations, promote arts education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. MAC is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation for Mississippi and other private sources. For more information, visit www.arts.ms.gov.

For information about the Mississippi Arts Commission, please contact Anna Ehrgott, Communications Director, 601-359-6546 or aehrgott@arts.ms.gov.