Department of Art celebrates 50th anniversary

May 22nd, 2018 Comments Off on Department of Art celebrates 50th anniversary

Established in 1968, Mississippi State’s Department of Art celebrated its 50th Anniversary this academic year with a series of events:

“Statements: 50 Years of Making”
Art alumni exhibition

Alumni and Student Networking Event
Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery

Alumni Reception at the M-Club
Honoring retiring Professor Brent Funderburk

Alumni Panel: “Creative Education to Creative Careers”
Part of the Eric and Ginna Yonge Lecture Series

Tailgate and Monster Drawing Rally

Longtime MSU art professor to retire

April 30th, 2018 Comments Off on Longtime MSU art professor to retire

Brent Funderburk – MSU Art Professor, painting in his home studio.
(photo by Megan Bean / © Mississippi State University)

Charlie Benton | Starkville Daily News

After 36 years teaching art at Mississippi State University and 40 years total in academia, Brent Funderburk will retire from the university on May 22, his 66th birthday.

Funderburk came to MSU as a painting teacher, after time spent painting in North Carolina. Prior to coming to MSU, Funderburk also served on the ar faculties of Nebraska Wesleyan University and East Carolina University, his alma mater. In addition to his teaching and painting, Funderburk is also regarded as an expert on Mississippi Gulf Coast artist Walter Inglis Anderson. While a student at ECU, he studied under painters Edward Reep and Paul Hartley.

“I think 40 years is a good number, and I really desire to be a painter full-time,” Funderburk said.

Despite his desire to paint full-time, Funderburk said he would miss being able to support students on their journey and watch them grow as artists.

“I love the fact that as a visual artist, you can actually physically see young people grow, because we have visual evidence,” Funderburk said. “In other words, their souls are on the outside. They can look whatever way they want to look, but you can’t hide the fact that in visual art, your innards are going to be seen.”

Funderburk expressed a desire to stay young in his retirement as he painted and travelled. He said he was able to stay young as a professor, by spending so much time around college students.

“I’ve just been hanging out with 20-year-olds for 40 years, so I’m going to miss that,” Funderburk said. “I am not going to be the guy at the Hardee’s every morning with the other old farts. That’s not me. I love them. I’ll wave at them as I pass by going to the art store, but I’m going to do 20-year-old stuff, living the life, working really hard painting a lot.”

Funderburk first became interested in art growing up with his twin brother in Charlotte, North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s. He said his parents provided him and his brother with art supplies to give them something constructive to do, and keep them out of trouble.

“My parents always provided us with paper, crayons, art supplies, and we somehow were absorbed throughout almost all of our childhood with playing together and making things,” Funderburk said. “It was something natural that we did. My brother now is a very successful architect.”

As he grew up and went to art school, Funderburk became interested in designing album covers for bands popular during the time period. However, as he prepared to graduate, cassette tapes became the norm.

“Sad little tiny things that fall apart easily, and really an affront to artists,” Funderburk said.

While he was figuring out his next step as he was finishing his Master of Fine Arts degree, someone told Funderburk he might make a good teacher. He then started applying to academic positions in 1978, ending up at NWU.

After a few years at NWU, Funderburk left, and was living and painting in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. However, he began to miss teaching, and again started searching for academic positions.

“I found that I could not as easily teach squirrels and snakes,” Funderburk said. “The classes didn’t go very well with those snails and turtles and frogs. I missed it, so I applied for the only job that I’ve ever seen in any job search at the university level, where the name of the position was ‘watercolor artist.’ Almost always it’s ‘painter,’ or ‘drawing’ at a university position, something like that, but this was for a watercolor painter, so that was unique.”

Funderburk said the location in Mississippi piqued his interest a little, because of his prior knowledge of Walter Anderson.

“The fact that Mississippi State very particularly wanted an academic watercolor painter, was very attractive to me,” Funderburk said.
Funderburk plans to stay in Starkville after he retires.

“My wife, Debby, teaches dance, and has taught dance here for 25 years at State, and she is still teaching,” Funderburk said. “We’ll travel a lot, and I’ll be working a lot, and I’ll show my work a lot across the country and internationally. It’s a great college town, a great place for a headquarters to be an artist in the 21st century.”

Funderburk described his work as being inspired by nature, but said he didn’t consider himself a landscape painter. The last class he will teach at MSU will be a Walter Anderson course, involving making trips to the Mississippi barrier islands to paint as Anderson once did.

A public reception for Funderburk will be held by the MSU College of Architecture, Art and Design in the Dawg House at the Colvard Student Union on May 2 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“I’m thankful to God for being at Mississippi State, and for everyone who’s been with me along the way,” Funderburk said.

Read more in the Maroon Memo.

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.”  

Read more.


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/

Read the story at

MSU alumni return for Department of Art’s creative education, careers panel

April 19th, 2018 Comments Off on MSU alumni return for Department of Art’s creative education, careers panel

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Reinforcing Mississippi State’s commitment to prepare students to become leaders in their chosen professions, five alumni are returning Friday [April 20] to share their success stories during the Department of Art’s Eric and Gina Yonge Lecture Series.

Taking place at 9:30 a.m. in the Colvard Student Union’s second-floor Bill R. Foster Ballroom, the “Creative Education to Creative Careers” panel discussion is part of the art department’s 50th anniversary celebration. The event is moderated by Starkville native and MSU alumnus Eric Yonge, president and creative director of Kennesaw, Georgia-based EYStudios, a leading e-commerce brand development firm.

With a $25,000 donation to the MSU Foundation, Yonge and his wife, Gina, established the lecture series in 2015 to engage fine arts students in thoughtful discussions on how to market themselves and their talents.

“This event is a great opportunity for students across our department, college and university to see and hear from five alumni who have translated their college education into professional careers,” said Angi Bourgeois, MSU art department professor and head.

In addition to Yonge, panelists include:

—Jerry Jackson, a 1989 MSU art/fine arts graduate who has been a photo editor for The Baltimore Sun since 1996. Prior to moving to Baltimore, he worked as a photo editor for the Houston Post and at the Union Democrat in Sonora, California. He also studied photojournalism at the University of Missouri. For more, visit

—Kristen Ley, a 2007 MSU art/graphic design graduate who also minored in marketing. Following graduation, she and fellow MSU classmate Catherine Yerger opened Cultigraphic Creative to explore their shared passion for art and design through projects for various clients. In 2011, Ley purchased a 1925 10 x 15 Chandler and Price letterpress and opened Thimblepress gift shop in Jackson. The name is derived from a collection of thimbles she has acquired during her travels since childhood. For more, visit

—Wesley Stuckey, a Baltimore, Maryland-based designer, printmaker and educator whose work has been featured in various publications and exhibitions across the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. In addition to traditional print design and printmaking, his work focuses on branding, illustration and environmental graphics, with occasional interactive projects for the web. A 2008 MSU art/graphic design and printmaking graduate, Stuckey teaches branding, typography, hand-letter, web design and basic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he earned a master’s in fine art in 2011. Stuckey also teaches at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and runs his own design studio practice. He served as a juror for the art department’s recent 50th Anniversary Alumni Exhibition. For more, visit

—Adam Trest, a watercolorist who owns Adam Trest Home retail store in Laurel. He graduated in 2009 with an MSU bachelor’s in art/painting and a minor in architectural design. He often is inspired by the native flora and fauna, as well as the historical districts around Mississippi. For more, visit

Additional information about the Department of Art’s 50th anniversary celebration is available by contacting Bourgeois at 662-325-8926 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 and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CAADatMSU.


Reception held for graphic design senior exhibition

April 18th, 2018 Comments Off on Reception held for graphic design senior exhibition

A reception was held on April 17 at the Visual Arts Center Gallery, showcasing work by 13 graphic design seniors.

“Layered” exhibitors include (by hometown):
AMORY—Amy Frances Farrar and Reagan N. Huffman
BRANDON—Alison P. Meeler
CLEVELAND—Justice B. Williams. She also is concentrating in photography
ELK RIVER, Minnesota—Sarah Tewolde
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama—Jennifer K. “Jenn” McFadden
LITTLE ROCK—Abbey E. Rigdon
LONG BEACH—Morgan N.A. Linnett
MADISON, Alabama—Lauryn O. Rody
MADISON—Madeline K. “Maddie” Marascalco
MENDENHALL—Samantha J. Sumrall
MERIDIAN—Caitlyn Ainsworth
PETAL—Haylee R. Upton

Read more about the show.

Graphic design seniors present ‘Layered’ exhibition at MSU

April 16th, 2018 Comments Off on Graphic design seniors present ‘Layered’ exhibition at MSU

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University


From illustration and web development to branding and package design, 13 fine art seniors at Mississippi State are showcasing a variety of skills in a new exhibition at the university’s Visual Arts Center Gallery.

On display April 17-21 at 808 University Drive, “Layered” celebrates the all-female graduating class’s completion of studio work in MSU’s Department of Art.

In addition to physical displays, the students’ portfolio books and self-promotional pieces will be available for viewing on opening night. For a preview, visit and follow on Instagram @layered_2018.

“Each designer brings a new dimension and unique style just as each layer adds depth to a design,” said student exhibitor Jennifer K. “Jenn” McFadden of Huntsville, Alabama.

A 6-7:30 p.m. opening reception in the students’ honor takes place Tuesday [April 17] at the Visual Arts Center Gallery, where complimentary refreshments will be available.

Gallery hours are 12:30-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 1-4 p.m. Saturday. The exhibition will be open April 21 during MSU’s Super Bulldog Weekend and Starkville’s Cotton District Arts Festival.

The “Layered” exhibitors include (by hometown):
AMORY—Amy Frances Farrar and Reagan N. Huffman
BRANDON—Alison P. Meeler
CLEVELAND—Justice B. Williams. She also is concentrating in photography
ELK RIVER, Minnesota—Sarah Tewolde
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama—Jennifer K. “Jenn” McFadden
LITTLE ROCK—Abbey E. Rigdon
LONG BEACH—Morgan N.A. Linnett
MADISON, Alabama—Lauryn O. Rody
MADISON—Madeline K. “Maddie” Marascalco
MENDENHALL—Samantha J. Sumrall
MERIDIAN—Caitlyn Ainsworth
PETAL—Haylee R. Upton

Celebrating 50 years, MSU’s Department of Art is home to the Magnolia State’s largest undergraduate studio art program. For more, visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CAADatMSU.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Reception held for photography thesis exhibition

April 13th, 2018 Comments Off on Reception held for photography thesis exhibition

A reception was held on April 12 in the university’s Colvard Student Union Art Gallery for two graduating seniors in Mississippi State’s Department of Art.

“Contact S18: BFA Photography Thesis Exhibition” celebrated the final year of studies for Brennan P. Crosby of Clinton and Kenan M. Simpkins of Madison.

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‘Contact S18’ exhibition at MSU features photographs by graduating seniors

April 10th, 2018 Comments Off on ‘Contact S18’ exhibition at MSU features photographs by graduating seniors

“Tippi Hedren” by Kenan Simpkins (Photo submitted)

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Two graduating seniors in Mississippi State’s Department of Art are presenting their photographs in a special exhibition April 12-May 7 in the university’s Colvard Student Union Art Gallery.

Free to all, the “Contact S18: BFA Photography Thesis Exhibition” celebrates the final year of studies for Brennan P. Crosby of Clinton and Kenan M. Simpkins of Madison.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

A public reception takes place at 5 p.m. Thursday [April 12] in the Union art gallery. Refreshments will be available.

“Contact S18” reflects the students’ successful conclusion of departmental research, writing and presentation requirements, as well as four years of foundational coursework, survey, art history, and academic and emphasis classes.

During their time at MSU, the students have benefited from the expertise and support of Professor Marita Gootee and Assistant Professor Dominic Lippillo. Both teach in the department’s photography emphasis area, with Gootee as its longtime coordinator.

Titled “Perfectionism, A Dangerous State of Mind in an Imperfect World,” Crosby’s body of work employs imagery sourced from a wide scale of periodicals to create collages that reference post-colonial theory, the avant-garde and the post-modern left-wing Democratic movement.

“The collages deconstruct the sourced imagery to the extent that meaning is shifted to create commentary about the world’s past and present political issues and to address the effects of global strains put on us as people and to the planet,” Crosby explained.

In her photographic series “OUR: fragmented memory,” Simpkins uses a technique of fragmenting family photographs to mimic memories of collective experiences. The images contain a nostalgic vernacular lexicon that connects each person’s personal experience to reference ordinary American life. Simpkins altered the opacity of certain fragments in the images and made them more transparent to illustrate how general details of memories fade.

“Often, the most vivid details are in the forefront of our mind, and this is illustrated in the way that I layer the more opaque fragments in the foreground of the image,” she said.

In addition to the art department, the “Contact S18” exhibition is made possible with support from the Center for Student Activities. For more information, contact Lori Neuenfeldt, MSU art instructor and gallery director, at 662-325-2970 or

Celebrating 50 years, MSU’s Department of Art is home to the Magnolia State’s largest undergraduate studio art program. For more, visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CAADatMSU.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Dominic Lippillo featured on MPB ‘Arts Hour’

April 10th, 2018 Comments Off on Dominic Lippillo featured on MPB ‘Arts Hour’

Mississippi State University Department of Art Associate Professor Dominic Lippillo was featured on Mississippi Public Broadcasting: Think Radio’s ‘Mississippi Arts Hour’ on April 8th.

The interview has been posted on the MPB website, and it can be streamed here.

Via the site: “Turry Flucker speaks with Dominic Lippillo. Dominic is among nine visual artists from around the region receiving a State Fellowship from Atlanta, Georgia-based and MAC‘s regional partner South Arts. In addition to Mississippi, this year’s recipients represent Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.   Dominic Lippillo’s work questions the role of photography by making digitally constructed images that address notions of space versus place, memory, and experience. Selections of his collaborative work are included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Photographic Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; and the University of North Dakota. His work has been published in Don’t Take Pictures, Exposure, Daily Serving, and The Eye of Photography.”

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