Reception held for spring 2018 BFA fine art thesis exhibit

April 30th, 2018 Comments Off on Reception held for spring 2018 BFA fine art thesis exhibit

(photos by Colleen McInnis)

A reception was held on Sat., April 28, for the BFA fine art thesis exhibit, “In the Amber.”  

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Fine art exhibition ‘In the Amber’ features 16 Mississippi State seniors

April 23rd, 2018 Comments Off on Fine art exhibition ‘In the Amber’ features 16 Mississippi State seniors

Via Brent Funderburk

“That is a very earthly question to ask…Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?…well here we are…trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.”
— Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Exhibit in three galleries on campus from April 28 to May 2
During April and early May, an exhibition in three Mississippi State University galleries will showcase 16 senior fine art students’ visions of life in the present. Their show, “In the Amber,” presents a year of reflection and offers a potent metaphor for our times.

The concept of “In the Amber”
Each spring the graduating fine art students in Mississippi State’s Department of Art are tasked with creating a theme for their capstone thesis exhibition. This year, the students titled their show “In the Amber,” inspired by a quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Explaining the reasoning behind this title, the thesis students stated, “In order to protect themselves from contaminants and to mend broken branches, trees produce resin which will, under special circumstances, fossilize into amber. During the fossilization process, any plants, insects or other material trapped inside the resin are immaculately preserved. In Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, amber is a symbol that represents a fixed point in time, and the people who share the experience of that time are like bugs trapped in the amber.” Similarly, the Mississippi State University Bachelor of Fine Art Thesis Show could be compared to the process of something of the moment stilled in timeless amber. “In the Amber” is the manifestation of each student’s college career, showcasing 16 unique and personal bodies of work covering into one location and time.

Show and reception details
“In the Amber” will be on display from Sat., April 28 through Wed., May 2, 2018. Between five and 15 works by each student will be exhibited in the Department of Art Gallery in McComas Hall, the MSU Welcome Center’s Cullis-Wade Depot Gallery and the CAAD Visual Arts Center Gallery (808 University Drive, Starkville). Each space will house five to six different students’ bodies of work. An opening reception will be held on Sat., April 28 from 2 – 4:30 p.m., starting in the Department of Art Gallery in McComas Hall, moving on to the other two locations at 3 and 3:45 p.m. respectively. Introductions of all the students will begin at 2:30 p.m. in McComas. This reception is open to the public, and food and drinks will be provided. View a map of all the exhibits.

Student artists represented by over 100 works
In October of 2017, Victoria Allgood of Madison experienced the death of two very important people in her life. With no time to mourn, she channeled the memories of her lost family members into her thesis work. Allgood’s mixed media work combines portraits and photos of her deceased family with everyday objects in order to capture the presence of each individual. Through her thesis, she has been able work through her emotions surrounding these tragic events.As a Christian, student and MSU football player, Tré Braswell of Olive Branch calls attention to student athletes and Christianity through four large-scale oil and acrylic paintings. His paintings depict both male and female athletes from a variety of MSU sports. Braswell feels he and other student athletes have been limited in their ability to express their faith during the sports they play for the university, and his work brings light to this issue.

Combining art, science and religion using watercolor, Claire Burgett of Nashville, Tenn., reveals her world to the viewer through the peony. Representing herself, the peony highlights the patterns created by God and nature. With the addition of collages and geometric patterns, Burgett gives new meaning and life to a simple flower.

In his series of intaglio prints, Alex Cayson of Tupelo, depicts himself exploring ancient ruins and encountering various mythical beings. Each piece focuses on a specific ancient culture, and the shape and color of each work is made to resemble various artifacts. His work captures the excitement of exploration, the wonder of discovery and the arcane beauty of ancient ruins.

Coming from a musical family in New Albany, musical instruments have always been a part of Darren Cheairs’s life. His interest in these instruments, however, lies in exploring ways they can serve a purpose other than making music. Cheairs’s thesis consists of several sculptural works that cause viewers to reconsider the function of an object.

From Kosciusko, Madison Cheek’s series of paintings centers around his mental space which he depicts as an abstracted cavern in various atmospheric color schemes. Following several years of suffering from depression, he now considers his mental space as “a more peaceful grotto of self-reflection and progress.” By exploring the relationships between his past, present and future selves, Cheek’s work has helped him find meaning in the unnamable emotions that linger after going through depression.

Daniel Clark of Tupelo presents a body of work that uses abstract imagery to inspire a discomfort that he considers his norm. Made from a variety of media such as acrylic paint and glaze, modeling paste, charcoal and colored pencils, his heavily textured works lure viewers into experiencing unpleasant feelings.

Drawing on her Cambodian heritage, the works of Isabelle Cottrell of Starkville are dedicated to the refugees, survivors and victims of the Khmer Rouge—a genocide in Cambodia that killed 2 million people. By including traditional Cambodian textiles in her mixed media work, Cottrell creates pieces that represent the artifacts that are still embedded in the ground and trees at the Killing Fields in Cambodia.

Inspired by the visual development and concept art of animated films, Phoebe Fitzgerald of Decatur, Ala., has created a body of work utilizing both traditional and digital media. This body of work consists of concept art and visual development for an imagined animated film based on House of Many Ways by Dianna Wynne Jones, a favorite book from her childhood. Fitzgerald’s work imbues the characters and environments from the story with life, color and vivacity in order to inspire love for and interest in the stories that inspire her.

From Summit, Nicolette Johnson depicts an original story inspired by classic Greek myths through a series of intaglio prints. Set in the fictional underworld of the kingdom of Kingzvire, her story presents a retelling of Persephone’s and Hades’s forbidden love. Her characters experience adversity on their journey that serves as a parallel to the tests everyone experiences in their own lives.

Through her mixed media drawings, Jordan Knight of Brandon brings light to endangered species of birds in America. Her pieces, which require intense research, combine the unique aspects of each bird—such as their color, wingspan and environment—into a cohesive drawing that gives a voice to these beautiful, yet, endangered birds.

From Flowood, Justin Mayfield enjoys arranging models, photographing them and constructing their portraits. The portraits of the characters in his thesis series personify the cardinal sins of this life. Mayfield’s portraits are made with charcoal, which allows both a smooth transition of value across the form and a deep, contrasting black that creates “a most abysmal void.”

Vernon McCoy of Jackson uses his work to visualize the lifelong obstacles he has faced in his journey to lead his family out of financial oppression and limited education. His thesis reflects the “path of sunlight shining through a storm” that he lived through as a poor child who is now a college graduate and business owner. His paintings utilize strong lighting, self portraiture, emotional color and perspective to create compositions that express his life experiences.

Inspired by film photography from various eras, Carly Melton of Clinton employs the inherent sentimentality, honesty and nostalgia of family snapshots in a series of acrylic paintings. Melton’s paintings feature a cast of characters and settings that depict a personal narrative of closeted trans-masculine identity. The process of creating this body of work proved extremely cathartic to Melton.

In her series of digital illustrations, Kristan Williams of Ocean Springs depicts two characters as they episodically travel together through a challenging landscape. Inspired by the films of Hayao Miyazaki, the works are an exploration of themes of companionship and self-discovery.

Through her watermedia works, Shawna Williams of Hattiesburg combines her love of music and her identity as a Christian. Throughout her life, Shawna has used music and art to help her cope with difficult family situations. Her works express the different challenges she has faced during these situations through a unique language of musical and visual terms, forms and mediums.

Art Department celebrating its 50th anniversary
The BFA Fine Art Thesis Exhibition is part of a required sequence of professional preparation courses in Advanced Studio, Senior Research and Senior Thesis courses for the art major in the fine art concentration at Mississippi State University. A program in the College of Architecture, Art and Design, the Department of Art is the largest undergraduate program in the state of Mississippi, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018.

Contact: Brent Funderburk, Professor and Senior Fine Art Thesis Coordinator/

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Final fall 2017 One Night Only Show features five CAAD students

December 1st, 2017 Comments Off on Final fall 2017 One Night Only Show features five CAAD students

(via Kenan Simpkins)

A One Night Only show, “Form,” was held on Nov. 30 from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Metal Shop in Howell Building. 

The show featured five students in the Mississippi State University College of Architecture, Art and Design:

  • Darren Cheairs exhibited sculpture pieces.
  • Hannah Hebinck showed ceramic pieces.
  • Justin Mayfield showcased drawing pieces.
  • Aubrey Pohl showed typographic videos. 
  • Samantha Sumrall displayed photographic books.

Department of Art wraps up annual summer camp

June 26th, 2017 Comments Off on Department of Art wraps up annual summer camp

Images by Matthew Gordon

Fourteen campers ages sixteen and up were a part of this summer’s INvision art camp at Mississippi State University.

From June 12-16, students participated in workshops across all concentrations led by art professors and had the chance to interact with current art students.

  • Bookbinding
    • Campers started the week learning how to bind a sketchbook. They kept the book, which they used throughout the camp to draw and journal their experiences. 
  • Sculpture
    • The group made plaster casts of their hands, and learned to steam-bend wood and braze small pieces of metal together.
  • Ceramics
    • Campers learned to throw pottery on the wheel and do a hand building project.  They also got to see their pots fired in a Raku firing.
  • Drawing
    • This workshop taught basic drawing rules and skills to help with composition.
  • Photography
    • The campers learned about different studio lighting techniques and how photographers use lighting to take studio portraits.  The campers then got to take turns practicing their technique – both modeling and taking portraits.
  • Graphic Design
    • Campers were excited to get to design their own t-shirt for the camp.  Its was a collaborative effort, combining individual drawings into one for the final design.

On the final day of the camp, students installed their work from the week at the Visual Arts Center and had a reception for parents and visitors.

For more about the annual summer camp, visit:, or contact us at or 662-325-6900.

Ceramic Edition One Night Only Show held

April 28th, 2017 Comments Off on Ceramic Edition One Night Only Show held

(Photos by Ronnie Robinson)

A One Night Only Show was held Thurs., April 16 from 4-7 p.m. in Howell 111.

The show featured work by ceramics students.

Receptions held for Department of Art senior exhibits

April 27th, 2017 Comments Off on Receptions held for Department of Art senior exhibits

(images via Brent Funderburk)
BFA Fine Art Thesis

  • Colvard Student Union and McComas Galleries
  • April 13–May 6
  • Reception: April 13

(images by Kelsey Brownlee)
BFA Photo Thesis

  • Visual Arts Center Gallery
  • April 20–April 29
  • Reception: April 20

(images by Kelsey Brownlee)
BFA Graphic Design Thesis

  • Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery
  • April 24–28 
  • Reception: April 24

One Night Only Show Thursday

April 26th, 2017 Comments Off on One Night Only Show Thursday

Graduating fine art majors explore visual storytelling, emotion in ‘Reverie’ exhibition at MSU

April 13th, 2017 Comments Off on Graduating fine art majors explore visual storytelling, emotion in ‘Reverie’ exhibition at MSU

Cecilia Lemus of New Albany creates sculptures of ever-changing light, color and sound for the Mississippi State College of Architecture, Art and Design’s “Reverie” exhibition. Lemus is among nine graduating fine art majors whose works are being featured April 13-May 8 in the university’s McComas Hall Art Gallery and Colvard Student Union Art Gallery. (Submitted photo)

By | Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Diverse works by nine graduating fine art majors at Mississippi State are on display April 13-May 8 in two university art galleries.

Free to all, the weeklong Bachelor of Fine Arts thesis exhibition, “Reverie,” features images reflecting the students’ successful conclusion of research, writing, presentation and advanced studio practice, as well foundational coursework, survey, art history, academic and emphasis classes.

“Through personal experience and reflection, these nine artists have created a multimedia visual exhibition exposing their individual tragedies, hopes, fears and dreams as part of an exploration of the human condition,” said MSU senior art/fine arts major Randi L. Watson of Brandon.

An opening reception takes place at 5-6:30 p.m. April 13 in the McComas Hall Art Gallery. Student introductions will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the McComas gallery and continue at 6 p.m. in the Colvard Student Union’s second-floor art gallery. Complimentary refreshments will be provided at both locations.

The “Reverie” exhibitors include (by hometown):

BAY SPRINGS—HuShawn D. Rambo.
BRANDON—Randi L. Watson.
LEXINGTON—Shaquita N. Woodson.
NATCHEZ—Chelsey V. Johnson.
NEW ALBANY—Cecilia A. Lemus.
OLIVE BRANCH—Taylor B. McGhee.
PONTOTOC—Ethan C. Ritchie.
SAGINAW, Michigan—Ki’erre Dawkins.
VICKSBURG—MiKayla M. Evans.

Exhibit hours for the McComas Hall Art Gallery are 1-5 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 4-5 p.m. Wednesday; Colvard Student Union Art Gallery, 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

For more exhibit information, contact Brent Funderburk, MSU William L. Giles Distinguished Professor of Art, 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

MSU fine art, graphic design, photography student creations showcased in annual juried exhibit

April 7th, 2017 Comments Off on MSU fine art, graphic design, photography student creations showcased in annual juried exhibit

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Eleven students from Mississippi State’s Department of Art recently received top awards as part of the 45th Student Juried Exhibition at the university’s McComas Hall Art Gallery.

The spring exhibition featured 60 works selected from nearly 250 fine art, graphic design and photography creations submitted for consideration. Included in the exhibition were 44 works by MSU students accepted into the Mississippi Collegiate Arts Competition.

Best in Show and honorable mention prizes also were presented in the fine art, graphic design and photography categories.

Fine art, graphic design and photography judges for this semester’s exhibition were, respectively, Heather Hart, a professional artist in Brooklyn, New York; Ginger Owen, associate professor of photography and intermedia at Western Michigan University’s Gwen Frostic School of Art; and Meena Khalili, assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Louisville.

MSU’s 2017 Student Juried Exhibition award winners include (by category):

Fine Art

—Senior art/fine arts major Cecilia A. Lemus of New Albany, Best in Show for “LED Music Chair.”

—Junior art/fine arts major Phoebe L. Fitzgerald of Decatur, Alabama, Honorable Mention for “The Great Depression.”

—Senior art/fine arts major Jordan C. Knight of Brandon, Honorable Mention for “Black Beans.”

—Senior art/graphic design major Jennifer K. McFadden of Harvest, Alabama, Honorable Mention for “White Studio Wall.”

Graphic Design

—Senior art/graphic design major Catherine M. Ranager of New Albany, Best in Show for “Gold Eagle Brewing Co.”

—Senior art/graphic design and photography major Anna K. “Katie” Erickson of Madison, Honorable Mention for “Viaggo Roma: A City of Texture and Color.”

—Senior art/graphic design major Ian F. Green of Biloxi, Honorable Mention for “Santo Spirito in Sassia.”

—Senior art/graphic design major Heather C. Hardman of Birmingham, Alabama, Honorable Mention for “Spoked Summer Ale.”


—Senior art/photography and graphic design major Ronnie B. Robinson of West Point, Best in Show for “Play Nice, Deary: Portrait Series” and Honorable Mention for “Girl With Horns.”

—Senior art/photography major Robert W. Lewis of Mayhew, Honorable Mention for “Relaxing Hunter.”

—Senior art/fine arts major Randi L. Watson of Brandon, Honorable Mention for “This is Granna. She’s Forgotten My Name.”

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

Students selected for 2017 statewide exhibition

February 26th, 2017 Comments Off on Students selected for 2017 statewide exhibition

In its 67th year, the Mississippi Collegiate Arts exhibit is part of statewide juried competition for student artists enrolled in the state’s four-year colleges and universities. The annual event is designed to showcase the high quality of visual arts education taking place in Mississippi higher education.

This year’s contest drew more than 755 submissions from 8 institutions. Of that number, 44 entries by MSU art majors were among 134 judged worthy of inclusion in the exhibit.

Unfortunately, this year’s exhibit was canceled due to a tornado that struck William Carey University, where the show was being held.

MSU’s 2017 MCA Competition selected exhibitors included:

  • Kelli Clayton
  • Daniel Clark
  • Sam Douglas
  • Erin Frazier
  • Trent Furr
  • Canaan Griffin
  • Heather Hardman
  • Nicolette Johnson
  • Matthew Lewis
  • Justin Mayfield
  • Jenn McFadden
  • Alleigh Moffett
  • Aubrey Pohl
  • Ronnie Robinson
  • Shannon Shepherd
  • Kenan Simpkins
  • Imani Smith
  • Whitney White
  • Gerald Wicks
  • Anna Zollicoffer

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