MSU’s first student artist-in-residence creates art at the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge

May 18th, 2015 Comments Off on MSU’s first student artist-in-residence creates art at the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge

Shelby Nichols

Shelby Nichols

By Shelby Nichols

As the first MSU undergraduate student recipient of the MSU-Noxubee National Wildlife Artist in Residence award, recent fine art graduate Shelby Nichols is already hard at work out at the Refuge.

From May 15 – 28, Nichols is researching and creating a body of work inspired by black and white photography by Ansel Adams, a prevalent landscape photographer during the 20th century. Adams’ images brought attention to the natural beauty of America and its national parks. Adams hiked the high Sierra Mountains in terrain few had ever laid eyes on. What he discovered in the mountains was so magnificent that it motivated him to dedicate his life to capturing its awe-striking power with a camera. He felt that the raw wilderness should be preserved for generations.

Nichols’ more recent ceramic works exhibited at MSU as part of the BFA Senior Thesis Exhibit, and select pieces are now on view in the Collins C. Diboll Art Gallery, Loyola University, New Orleans.

Similar to Adams, Nichols grew up appreciating the nature and beauty of the Mississippi landscape. However, the ecosystem Nichols establishes a connection to is uniquely composed of tree species, such as bald cypress, sycamore and red cedar; this is in contrast to the sequoia, redwood and aspen trees Adams photographed.

After her stay at the Refuge, Nichols will head to Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snow Mass, Colo., for a week, supported by a financial scholarship award, then she is on to other parks and refuges. Before leaving the southeast to explore other places, Nichols wants to dedicate a body of work to the place that has inspired her art. Nichols translates these nature experiences by using a variety of specialized methods with mediums including wood and ceramic, not limited to photography.

Join the artist at 10:30 a.m. on Sat., May 23 to discover how and why Adams’ work helps her identify with her own; then come along on a nature walk through her favorite place on the Refuge, a jewel near the home of Mississippi State University.

“I never did a photograph of any importance for an environmental purpose—all the pictures I’ve done were done because I was there, and I loved the mountains, and I visualized a picture.” – Ansel Adams

The Artist-in-Residence program is made possible by the Friends of the Noxubee Refuge, the Starkville Area Arts Council, and a partnership between the MSU Department of Art and the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. For more information contact Steve Reagan, Project Leader for the Choctaw and Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee NWRs at 662-323-5548 or

Read the story on MSU’s website.

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