Art students to open senior exhibition in three MSU galleries

October 31st, 2012 Comments Off on Art students to open senior exhibition in three MSU galleries

(By Aaron Autin, Department of Art senior majoring in painting)

Eight fine art and two photography students have come together to create the Mississippi State University BFA Fine Art and Photography Thesis Exhibition, “Commune,” displaying the culmination of years of hard work and study.

On Nov. 15 at 5:30 p.m. the public is invited to a reception at the Department of Art Gallery on the first floor of McComas Hall, where the students will be introduced at 6:15 p.m.

The reception will continue in the Colvard Student Union Fine Art Gallery from 6:45–7:15 p.m., and the celebration will end at the Visual Arts Center Gallery, located at 808 University Dr., at 8 p.m.

The work will be on display from Nov. 13–17 in the McComas and Visual Arts Center galleries and through Nov. 30 in the Union gallery.

Read the story by Margaret Kovar | MSU University Relations

Read the story by Matt Crane |Starkville Daily News

About the show
“Commune” connects art with people in a deeper way than ordinary communication devices. We are fortunate to live at a time where we have the ability to talk to someone on any point of the globe with the push of a button.  Our cultures are more connected now than at any other time in human history.  But what does it really mean to commune?  Is our ability to communicate limited to the sound of our voice or length of a fiber optic cable? “Commune” is these art students’ attempt to reconcile these questions and others about the very nature of communication.

Ten students have developed a body of artwork over a semester through coursework in Art 4093 Thesis or in a Photography Portfolio II class. Guided by an emphasis professor in Advanced Studio, Professor Brent Funderburk (Fine Art Thesis Coordinator) and Marita Gootee (Photography Coordinator) as well as individual faculty committees of three members, these seniors are expected to work as a team to learn professional processes, produce an exhibition and to handle all exhibit design, installation, documentation, portfolio and publicity requirements associated with the capstone presentation.

AAron Autin
Exploring the formal elements of texture and how they communicate to an audience, AAron Autin is producing a series of paintings inspired by elements from the periodic table.  His paintings are an attempt to impart the physical properties of the elements into his work so that within the series, a pattern of texture relationships will occur.  These patterns are the communication of scientific principals in the context of art.

Emily Hobart

Emily Hobart is using delicate ceramic forms to connect with the secrets people keep buried.

Emily Hobart is employing the medium of ceramics to create fragile, delicate forms to represent emotional barriers. Drawing upon her own personal experiences, she is arranging these ceramic forms around hidden objects that represent ‘secrets’ that she has tried to conceal in the past. With her installations, she is trying to convey that even though we all hide pieces of ourselves away from others, sometimes they can see through the cracks.

Amanda Jefcoat
Eschewing the traditional tools of palette and brush, Amanda Jefcoat employs a poured paint method to create memories.  Creating very organic shapes with this process, she is developing a language between those shapes and the unique knowledge and experience of the viewer.  These experiences and memories cause the viewer to see imagery within the amorphous shapes that another may not.

Katherine Phipps
Painting an inaccessible nature that captures the rhythm and flow of an edgeless environment, Anna Katherine Phipps constructs abstract works of the natural world. Her fantastical, patterned shapes collide with fluid watercolor to convey the flux of forces that take color. Through variety in scale and medium, she creates a unity of space to journey an amusing play of organic forms.

Sarah Qarqish

For her installation, Sarah Qarqish created over 160 square feet of linework stencil.

“I want to communicate that we are all more alike than we seem” is how drawing major Sarah Qarqish describes her artwork for exhibition.  Inspired by a personal, multicultural journey of her own, Sarah is creating an installation that will communicate the experiences of life and her search for a balance between two unique ancestries.

Being of Middle Eastern and American descent, Sarah describes her process as “finding a balance between line works to make a beautiful composition, which is symbolic of the two cultures finding common ground.”

Inspired by the Islamic Ebru technique, Sarah is shooting video footage of marbleizing; however, in place of traditional inks and dyes, she is floating spray paint on water.  Suspended in front the marbleization footage, will be a more controlled, intricate stencil that has a graphic quality. Together they will create an installation that literally surrounds the viewer with not only the intensity and chaos of this journey, but also the peace and harmony that is found at the end of it.

“Commune,” Sarah explains, “is about people interacting, working together and bringing each other together. I feel like my concept reflects that very idea.”

Lindsey Rushing
Lindsey Rushing’s paintings are a departure from the norms of the watercolor medium. Instead of the traditional canvas/wood panel supports hung on the wall and lit from above, she is using light as a medium through self-lit structures to support the paintings. These paintings, whose subjects are deep sea creatures, are about the relationship of transparency vs. opacity, beauty vs. sublime and the deconstruction of the subject and medium through various presentations of the form. By taking her work on and off the wall, she is exploring the unusual ways that paintings can communicate with their viewers.

Charlotte Smith

Charlotte Smith’s sculptures speak to her viewers by manipulating the tension space can create.

One student is using figurative sculpture and intervals of space to communicate with her audience. By giving the viewer a specific place to sit and by manipulating the space between the viewer and the figure, Charlotte Smith is hoping to create a tension that evokes specific emotions. With her sculptures, she is exploring the impact space can have on the idea of comfort and discomfort, connection and disconnect of the objects within the piece.

Dawn Taylor
Using photography to communicate the relationship a place can have with its inhabitants, Dawn Taylor is having a conversation with her home. She is setting up a mood of anxiety/monotony that questions the viewer’s perception and preconceived notions of home and residence. Her photographs are an exploration of the disconnect that can be felt toward a home and the absence of a feeling of permanence within it.

Jesse Thames
Using a variety of pigments and materials, Jesse Thames shows us a frantic obsession with the interconnectivity between mystery, atmosphere, humans, nature and its products, and even human industrialization.  She harnesses the universe’s energies to help create art and help the Universe with its own painting. Her circular, or “tondo,” paintings are her own communication with infinity.

Rebekah Trotter
Rebekah Trotter uses photography to depict the effects of acute anxiety. Anxiety causes people to over think every action and consequence until it overwhelms them, and we look for the simplest way to solve a problem.  This is not always the best or most efficient action, but in order to continue working, people are forced to go with the compulsion.  With her work, she conveys the agitation and eventual surrender to this disorder, amid the constant struggle to function and find herself in spite of the anxiety that clouds and blurs her identity.

“Commune” is supported by the Mississippi State University College of Architecture, Art, and Design, the MSU Department of Art, the Colvard Student Union and the participating art students.

For more information, contact the MSU Department of Art at 662-325-2970.

Department of Art website

Thesis website

View the poster

Department of Art welcomes everyone to attend first Fiber Club meeting

October 31st, 2012 Comments Off on Department of Art welcomes everyone to attend first Fiber Club meeting

The Department of Art is sponsoring a new Fiber Club that is open to everyone.

Students, faculty and staff from a variety of colleges and offices, as well as guests from the Golden Triangle Quilters Guild, will be in attendance at the first meeting.

Club activities planned include knitting, sewing, making paper, dyeing fabric, looking at quilt art and other related workshops.

The first meeting is set for Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. in the Barnes & Noble Cafe. The meeting will be over in time for everyone to walk over to Giles Hall for the annual NOMAS TRASHIONshow, which starts at 7 p.m.

Photos from the Society for Photographic Education South Central Conference

October 29th, 2012 Comments Off on Photos from the Society for Photographic Education South Central Conference

Whitten Sabbatini | SPESC conference goers, including Photographer Betty Press, took advantage of the many lectures, workshops and exhibits offered.

See more photos from the event by Whitten Sabbatini, a student in the Department of Art.

Keynote speaker for photography conference describes past, current work

October 29th, 2012 Comments Off on Keynote speaker for photography conference describes past, current work

Todd Hido | Hido took a series of photos inside foreclosed homes to show that even images of buildings are often more about people. This photo shows years of handprints left from the previous residents on the door.

Todd Hido
knows the importance of education. He began his lecture by mentioning his sadness by the recent Taliban shooting of a Pakistani girl just for wanting to learn.

“We are so lucky to be here,” he said. “Education is one of the most important things in the world, and people are willing to die for it.”

In fact, Hido, the keynote speaker for the 2012 Society for Photographic Education South Centeral (SPESC) conference, would probably not be where he is today if it were not for the encouragement of a high school teacher. Hido said his teacher noticed he had a talent for photography and encouraged him to pursue it.

Hido’s first photos, taken with his Instamatic 126 camera, recorded his hobby and talent of BMX racing (he was the state champion in Ohio four times). He said he began taking photos as proof that a trick was performed.

“Kids do tricks, and they only happen once,” he laughed. “If you don’t record it, it didn’t happen.”

Hido chose to follow his teacher’s advice. He pursued an education in photography and earned his Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Museum Fine Arts, Boston.

Over the years, Hido’s work has included night photography and images that look to him like his hometown in Ohio. He enjoys taking photos of places that really are more about people.

For example, he showed a photo he took at night of a house with two windows lit by the glow of TVs, and he likes to create a story about why the occupants were in separate rooms.

However, he said, “the meaning of art resides in the viewer,” and he loves that people will fill in their own stories about his pictures.

Hido currently has a book being printed, Excerpts from Silver Meadows. It contains a mixture of pictures he made and some he found.  He said he put two truths together to make a fiction that is ultimately telling a truth and described it as “my little risk taking adventure.”

After the lecture, Hido attended a reception for his exhibit, Nothing Ventured/Nothing Gained: The Creative risk, with the works of fellow photographers Kelli Connell, Susan Burnstine and Dornith Doherty.

Photography conference’s honored educator discusses work related to preserving biodiversity

October 29th, 2012 Comments Off on Photography conference’s honored educator discusses work related to preserving biodiversity

Dornith Doherty | View of the bay and airport from Svalbard Global Seed Vault (2010) Archival Pigment Photograph 30 x 148.5 inches

Dornith Doherty was chosen as this year’s honored educator for the Society for Photographic South Central (SPESC) conference hosted at Mississippi State from October 25-28.

A 2012 Guggenheim Fellow, Doherty is currently working to photograph various seed banks that have the goal of preserving biodiversity for the future.

Doherty said she got the notion from a professor early on that photographers are “trusted witnesses.”

“You go out into the world, and you bring back images to share with others,” she said.

The professor of photography at the University of North Texas is interested in seed preservation because her ancestors were affected by the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s. She said it’s amazing that the failure of that one crop had such a huge impact on the world.

Doherty went on to explain the Holocene Extinction. She described work being done throughout the world to preserve seeds from extinction through seed banks.

The professor has spent the last several years visiting some of these seed banks to document and photograph the work.

She even got an exclusive invitation to visit the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is open only two days a year to accept new seeds.  She braved extreme temperatures and the threat of polar bears to document work at the vault and fulfill her duty as a “trusted witness.”

Doherty said her project will likely wrap up this summer after some work related to the extinction of a type of bananas and a visit to document a species once thought extinct.

Department of Art holds graduate school panel

October 26th, 2012 Comments Off on Department of Art holds graduate school panel

(Photo by Rebekah Trotter | senior, photography) left to right: Vaughn Wascovich, Kristina Smith and Kat Wilson dish out advice on obtaining a Master of Fine Arts at a panel on Oct. 26 in the Union.

The Department of Art held a graduate school panel on Oct. 26 in the union for students interested in pursing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA).

In the informal session, two MFA candidates and a professor gave students advice and told them their different views about graduate school.

Vaughn Wascovich, assistant professor of photography at Texas A&M University, waited until he was 30 to attend graduate school.

“For me, I wanted to have the experience,” he said, “But it really depends on the person.”

Kristina Smith, an MFA candidate at Texas Woman’s University, went to graduate school after a short break.  She said she applied to eight programs but decided to attend Texas Woman’s University because of a teacher she admired.

“She was the type of teacher that I knew I wanted to be someday,” she said, going on to stress how important it is to form a good relationship with your mentor in grad school.

After all, “you’re stuck with them for two or three years,” she laughed.

Another MFA candidate, however, Kat Wilson, said she only applied to one program – at the University of Arkansas.  Wilson said when she was applying (also at age 30 like Wascovich) she was burnt-out.  Therefore, she encouraged students to attend graduate school a little sooner.

“While it’s still fresh, and you’re still hungry,” she added.

Wilson did, however, encouraged students to gain experience outside of the classroom and said that she learned so much more about photography working as a photo assistant for one year than she did in her first four years of college.

Wascovich said his work really changed during graduate school when he realized, “Ok. This is my job.”

He said he learned who he was a person and that he loves photography. The professor told the group that he took about 300 pictures during the 500 mile drive over to Starkville and that he doesn’t really plan to do anything with them except maybe post them to his blog.

“The point is, I love doing it,” he said.  “If I won the lottery, I would buy a new lens. I’m pretty content.”

His advice to students looking to get into MFA programs was to make connections, have a website, get involved and show enthusiasm.  He encouraged them to take advantage of faculty and make appointments to meet with them during their office hours.  He also told students to keep up with faculty after graduation and suggested sending them regular emails with updates and not just emails that ask for something such as letters of recommendation.

He ended with one final bit of advice.

“Your job in school is to find the thing you’re passionate about.”

Students, don’t miss your chance to register for the SPESC Conference

October 22nd, 2012 Comments Off on Students, don’t miss your chance to register for the SPESC Conference

(photo from University Relations) Photography such as this work, untitled from the series Excerpts from Silver Meadows by Todd Hido, are on display through Nov. 2 in McComas Hall Gallery. The photography exhibition is in coordination with the Society of Photographic Education South Central Conference being held at MSU Oct. 25-28. Don’t miss it!

Click here to find out about the activities and registration information.

Department of Art professor, alumni participate in show to celebrate National Art Month

October 22nd, 2012 Comments Off on Department of Art professor, alumni participate in show to celebrate National Art Month

Professor Critz Campbell | 3 Feet High and Rising

Andrew Robertson, MSU alumnus | Wishful Reveries

Paige Prisock Cannon is a graduate from MSU and took sculpture courses from Professor Critz Campbell. Her painting, Fall, is shown, bottom right.

When Rosemary Prisock first asked members at Old Waverly Gulf Club in West Point to submit art for a show as a way to celebrate National Art Month, she was a little nervous about how many people would get involved.

Prisock, the directory of hospitality of the club, ended up being shocked by how many members shared her love for art and contributed to gallery.

“I was thrilled,” she said. “I think for our first year, it’s amazing.”

The owners of Old Wavery, George and Marcia Bryan, heavily support the arts, and Marcia even submitted two collages for the show.

The entrance of the club now houses the gallery, made up of 133 pieces of art ranging from acrylics to pottery, jewelry, sculpture and collage.

Some of the artwork is for sale, and Prisock said half of those pieces have already sold.  She said it has also been a great opportunity to introduce the artists and their work, and several have been commissioned to do more pieces.

She said everyone has enjoyed viewing the gallery, even guests of a recent wedding, and it’s been great for members to learn about the talents of their fellow members.

“They have gotten to share that gift with other members,” she said.

Prisock said it took them about ten hours to hang all the pieces, which will come down at the end of the month.

Those from MSU participating in the event were Professor Critz Campbell, Paige Prisock Cannon, Leah Harrell, Bryan Houston and Andrew Robertson.

Ceramics artist holds demonstration, lecture

October 17th, 2012 Comments Off on Ceramics artist holds demonstration, lecture

Ceramics artist John Oles demonstrates some of his techniques to students on Oct. 15. He planned to let the pieces dry overnight and to demonstrate the next day how to trim them and “put the sexy on.”

John Oles, ceramics artist, visited Mississippi State on Oct. 15–16 to deliver a short lecture and demonstrate some of his techniques to students in Professor Robert Long, Lydia Thompson and Critz Campbell’s ceramics classes.

Oles, an adjunct professor at Loyola and Tulane Universities, is the recipient of the 2010 Ceramic Arts Emerging Artist Award from the National Council on Education.

Oles studied ceramics at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and received a BFA in ceramics in 1998.

In 2004, after a series of odd jobs including teaching high school, the artist moved to North Carolina and entered the Penland School of Crafts.  Oles described that time period in his life as heaven.

“You have that opportunity to be around people that when you tell them, ‘I’m a potter,’ they don’t ask what your real job is,” he laughed.

In 2005, Oles moved to New Orleans for graduate school and was soon after forced by the destruction of Hurricane Katrina to relocate for a semester to The University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.  While there, the artist lived in his car and worked out of a corner of the undergraduate studio.

He then returned to his current home of New Orleans to finish his MFA in ceramics at Tulane University.

The artist said his family was a huge influence on his career decision.

“We weren’t a big art family,” he said.  “But we were a big food family.”

Oles explained that he went into ceramics because he liked the idea of the communal aspect of eating and being able to create art that finds its way into the kitchen or home.

The artist showed some of his work, including cups, tea bowls, nesting bowls, altered bowls, teapots and pots for food and celebration.

He discussed glazes and said he enjoys the white/Celadon glazes because they complement and don’t compete with food that’s being served.

“They let whoever’s cooking have more say in how the presentation’s going to be,” he said.

Of all the pieces he makes, though, Oles said his favorite is the tea bowl.

“If I could make one object, I would make tea bowls for the rest of my life,” he said.

Oles said he loves that the handleless cups can serve as a meditative object in the morning when drinking coffee and can serve as a relaxing use for red wine later in the day.

Vist his blog.

More photos from the visit:

SPE South Central Regional Conference to be held at MSU

October 16th, 2012 Comments Off on SPE South Central Regional Conference to be held at MSU

The 2012 Society for Photographic Education South Central (SPESC) Conference titled Nothing Ventured/Nothing Gained: The Creative Risk will focus on the risks artists take in the conceptual and technical aspects of their work and the challenges they overcome in their visual research.

Mississippi State University’s commitment to hosting the conference will help critically examine the diversity of photographic practice by addressing the three major physical sectors of photography: traditional, digital and alternative processes.

The conference will feature many events that are open to the public to promote an awareness of photographic art on a national, regional and local level.

Internationally known artists Todd Hido, keynote speaker, and featured speakers Kelli Connell and Susan Burnstine will present the photography exhibition, Nothing Ventured/Nothing Gained: The Creative Risk. Works will also be included from SPESC Honored Educator and Guggenheim Fellow Dornith Doherty.  The exhibition will be on display in the Department of Art Gallery in McComas Hall.

An exhibition showcasing SPE members’ work and art by the North Texas Alternative Process Group (NTAPG) will be on display at the Visual Arts Center Gallery located on University Drive.

Finally, the SPE Student Members’ Exhibition will be on display in the Colvard Student Union Gallery.

All exhibitions run from Oct. 16 – Nov. 2.

This year’s conference will also include a high school educator and student panel discussion. The event is scheduled for Fri., Oct. 26 from 10 – 11 a.m. The panel will be made up of SPE members who will address topics related to integrating photography and photographic technology into the Mississippi high school art curriculum.

“This opportunity will allow SPE members to use their knowledge and expertise to address questions and concerns about photographic education, careers in photography, photography as art and much more,” said Dominic Lippillo, assistant professor of art and SPESC co-chair.

Conference registration is at a discounted rate for high school educators and is free for high school students who must be registered by their art teacher. For more information contact Dominic Lippillo at

This project is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state Agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The Society for Photographic Education is a nonprofit membership organization that provides a forum for the discussion of photography and related media as a means of creative expression and cultural insight. The South Central SPE chapter is comprised of seven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, with conferences hosted by institutions of higher education for the exploration of academic discourse surrounding the medium of photography.

For more information on SPE please visit their website

Click here to view the flyer with more information.

Click here to read the story on MSU’s website.

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