MSU celebrates Magnolia State bicentennial with fall event series

October 10th, 2017 Comments Off on MSU celebrates Magnolia State bicentennial with fall event series

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University is sponsoring a fall-semester series of fun, educational events to commemorate the Magnolia State’s bicentennial.

Jim Giesen–MSU History professor environmental portrait

With support from the Mississippi Humanities Council through the Mississippi Development Authority, the official bicentennial project kicks off Sept. 6 with a 5 p.m. presentation in Mitchell Memorial Library’s third-floor John Grisham Room. Organized by the university’s Museums and Galleries Committee, the free talk “Farming in Mississippi: A Brief History” will be given by MSU Associate Professor of History Jim Giesen.

Also free to all is a Sept. 13 talk titled “Writing Across the Color Line: Conversations, Intersections and Chance Encounters in Mississippi Literary History.” Given by MSU Associate Professor of English and African American Studies Donald Shaffer, the presentation will begin at 5 p.m. in the Grisham Room.

 “The Museums and Galleries Committee is really excited to be putting together this series of events to celebrate the history of Mississippi,” said event coordinator Amy Moe-Hoffman, an instructor in MSU’s Department of Geosciences.

“We began with the idea of showcasing university specimens in a collaborative exhibit,” she continued, “but with the help of a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, we were able to expand our programming to include speakers, music, receptions and exhibits that will allow attendees to have a deeper level of engagement with the history of our state.”

Donald Shaffer environmental portrait (photo by Megan Bean / © Mississippi State University)

Other upcoming bicentennial events that are free and open to the public include:

–Sept. 22, 5-7 p.m., opening reception for the exhibit “Symbols of our State: A Walk Through Mississippi Culture and Industry.” Refreshments will be served. The exhibit will be on display through Nov. 30 at the new Old Main Academic Center located at the intersection of Barr Avenue and George Perry Street. Those interested in scheduling a tour may contact the MSU Welcome Center at 662-325-5198.

–Sept. 30, 10 a.m.-noon, a family-friendly Scan-a-Thon event at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum in Starkville. Attendees can bring their historic photos depicting Oktibbeha County and Mississippi State to be scanned and digitized. Music and refreshments will be available in the museum’s outdoor pavilion, and the museum also will be open for tours.

–Oct. 19, 6-8 p.m., “Myth-issippi: How Art Makes Place” talk presented by longtime MSU Professor of Art Brent Funderburk in the Colvard Student Union’s first-floor Dawg House. Musicians Caleb Childs and Richard Brown will give live blues performances, and light refreshments will be served. The backdrop for this event will be the Dawg House’s new wall mural highlighting blues music and musicians from Mississippi.

–Oct. 26, 7 p.m., Jeff Harris, MSU assistant Extension research professor with the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology, will give a talk about the history of beekeeping in Mississippi. His presentation will take place in the Clay Lyle Entomology Building, home to the Mississippi State Bug Zoo that will be open for visitors starting at 6:30 p.m.

–Nov. 3, MSU Professor of Geosciences Darrel Schmitz, author of “Roadside Geology of Mississippi,” and George Phillips, curator of paleontology at the Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, will discuss economic geology and important fossil finds in Mississippi. All are welcome to bring a bag lunch for the noon talk “Discoveries in Mississippi Geology and Paleontology,” which will be held in Hilbun Hall, Room 304.

For more event information, contact Amy Moe-Hoffman at 662-325-3915 or

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Virginia artist, educator turns ‘trash into treasure’ in new MSU exhibition

October 10th, 2017 Comments Off on Virginia artist, educator turns ‘trash into treasure’ in new MSU exhibition

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Coffee lids, plastic utensils and other repurposed materials make for one-of-a-kind creations in a special display Oct. 9-Nov. 11 in Mississippi State University’s Visual Arts Center Gallery.

Free to all, the “How Soon is Now?” exhibition features original sculpture and photographic prints crafted by Richmond, Virginia-based artist Susie Ganch, who serves as associate professor and head of the metal program at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Craft and Material Studies.

Ganch will give an 11 a.m. public talk about her work Thursday [Nov. 9] in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium at Giles Hall, home to MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design. She also will be available at 4 p.m. that day to meet with visitors at the VAC Gallery, located at 808 University Drive on the edge of the Starkville campus. A public reception in Ganch’s honor also will take place at 5-6 p.m. Thursday in the same location. 

Regular gallery hours are 1-5 p.m., Monday-Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday, as well as by appointment.

A Bachelor of Science and Master of Fine Arts graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ganch is director of Radical Jewelry Makeover, an international jewelry mining and recycling project that travels across the country and abroad. In addition to California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin, Ganch’s work has been on display in Australia, England and Japan.

Visitors of the VAC Gallery exhibition can examine Ganch’s pieces from a distance and then explore the details of each piece up-close.

“From a distance, the ‘waste’ is beautiful—plastic coffee lids appear almost hand-braided, rhythmic and full of movement—yet up-close we notice the coffee stains, dirt and grime indicative of the life of used, discarded garbage,” said Lori Neuenfeldt, MSU art department gallery director.

Ganch’s piece “Drag, 2012” is made from zip ties, nametags, bottle caps, cups and other items tied together to multiple steel rings. Arranged from large to small, the rings lead up to a final ring that can been chained to the wall.

When attached to a person’s wrist like a bracelet, this particular work of art by Ganch “conveys the pull and weight of irresponsible consumerism on an individual and the trail of waste that is left behind or leading the wearer,” Neuenfeldt said.

In addition to the College of Architecture, Art and Design’s Department of Art, the exhibition is made possible through a Community Arts Grant from the Starkville Area Arts Council.

Additional information on Ganch’s campus visit and “How Soon is Now?” exhibition is available from Neuenfeldt at 662-325-2970 or

Part of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, MSU’s Department of Art is home to the Magnolia State’s largest undergraduate studio art program. For more, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Art students return from New York study

October 10th, 2017 Comments Off on Art students return from New York study

New York Field Study 2017 from CAADatMSU on Vimeo.

Twenty students and two faculty members spent their Fall Break in New York.

Led by Associate Professor Ben Harvey and Assistant Professor Suzanne Powney – who organized the trip – the students are the fourth and largest group to participate in the department’s Special Topic in ART- Art Field Study course.

The course was created in 2014 to provide historical and contemporary cultural experiences in the Big Apple’s world of art and design through visits to museums, galleries, artists’ studios and design firms, among other activities.

Among other locales, the group visited the special collections at the Columbia University Butler Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art; graphic design work spaces of Gensler and Johnson & Johnson; along with an artists’ studio in the Red Hook neighborhood with textile designer Annie Coggan and fine art alumnus Chris Lucious. 

The group also visited the High Line Park before a boat tour of the entire island of Manhattan. Perhaps most importantly, the students and faculty had opportunities to meet with former MSU art majors that have “made it” in New York. They included Sarah Foley, design manager at Johnson & Johnson; Lauren Blalock, Anna Callaway and Drew Ford, graphic designers for Johnson & Johnson; and Ashlee Bennett, Britney Johnson, Lilly Scheibelhut, Mickenzie Robbins, Trey Harding, Patrick Finch, Caleb Hunt and Brian Barham.

Special thanks to Karen Green, curator for comics and cartoons, Ancient & Medieval History librarian, Columbia University; Lauren Docktor, workplace experience manager, Gensler; Chris Lucious, artist; and Sarah Foley, design manager at Johnson & Johnson for hosting our students! 

Students had various creative assignments as part of the trip, including a blog created by Carly Melton, Calli Nelson, April Porter, Mimi Sheppard, Haylee Upton and Moesha Wright.

Abbey Goodman, Ali Meeler, Mary Emily Moore and Abbey Ridgon created a course poster (above).

Conner Booth, Claire Burgett, Kennedy Caldwell and Madison Cheek were in charge of a video (watch it above), while Darren Cheairs, Stephen Latham, Breanna Rayburn, Lauryn Rody, Samantha Sumrall and Kaitlyn Upton were in charge of documenting the experience through photography (photos below).

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