By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University
A Macon, Georgia, professional painter who has lived and worked for two decades in Spain is Mississippi State’s newest artist-in-residence.
As part of his month-long exploration of the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, Thomas V. “Tom” Cowsert will be sharing his talents and experiences with the university and local communities.
A free exhibition of the Jackson native’s artwork is on display through Aug. 29 in the Colvard Student Union’s second-floor gallery.
Also free and open to all will be a Tuesday [Aug. 9] opening reception in Cowsert’s honor at the Colvard gallery. The event begins at 5 p.m., and refreshments will be served.
Located 12 miles south of the Starkville campus, the more than 48,000-acre federal reserve spanning Oktibbeha, Noxubee and Winston counties was established in 1940. It serves as a feeding and resting area for migratory birds and resident wildlife, including white-tailed deer, alligators and beaver. Wetlands, cypress groves, prairie grasslands and forest also are among its many features.
A master’s degree graduate in international business management from the University of South Carolina, Cowsert worked in the banking industry before moving to Spain to become a professional artist. His undergraduate studies also were completed at South Carolina’s Presbyterian College in Clinton.
In his current career, Cowsert said he enjoys exploring “an interplay of forms and colors and references from cubism,” adding, “I find inspiration from the colors, sounds, rhythms and flavors of the places I visit.”
He is the son of Virginia Veitch Cowsert and the late William S. Cowsert. Former Starkville residents, his parents lived for a time in Jackson before moving to Georgia.
In addition to MSU’s art department, the annual artist-in-residence program is a collaborative effort of the refuge and its Friends of Noxubee Refuge support organization, as well as the Starkville Area Arts Council.
Lori Neuenfeldt, MSU art department gallery director, said the program plays an integral role in promoting the creative process for innovative visual, performance and literary artists. Visiting professionals receive complimentary refuge housing and are welcome to experiment and further develop their skills during time spent at MSU’s art facilities, she explained.
“The refuge residency provides emerging and established artists the opportunity and workspace to research and create art within the beautiful natural surroundings of Northeast Mississippi,” Neuenfeldt said. “Residents have the freedom to explore and interact with native wildlife, as well as with members of the refuge staff and campus and local communities.”
Previous participating artists have included painter and Webster County native William “Bill” Dunlap; printmaker Kathryn Hunter of Decatur, Alabama; Pennsylvania ceramicist Lilly Zuckerman; mural artist and illustrator Michael Roy of Jackson County; New Orleans artist and critic Marian S. McLellan; New York artists Caetlynn Booth and Tyson Washburn; Mississippi Audubon Master Naturalist and artist Robin Whitfield of Grenada; Iowa artist Barbara Fedeler; MSU fine arts/sculpture graduate Shelby Nichols of Aberdeen; San Francisco artist and curator Jenny Balisle; and contemporary textiles and craft artist Elin de Jong of the Netherlands.
Additional refuge information is found at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/noxubee/, facebook.com/NoxubeeNWR and twitter.com/USFWSsoutheast. NWR project leader Steve Reagan also may be contacted at 662-323-5548 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the story in The Columbus Dispatch.