Abandoned classrooms, vandalized desks, chipped wall paint, dirty tile and lifeless school halls are not usually a cause for inspiration. When Mississippi State University senior art student Julia Moore came upon her muse — a local, abandoned high school — this is exactly what she found. A native of Cary, Moore always asked herself: “Why does society waste so much?”
Moore walked the halls of a building that once was a thriving center of learning, wondering how anyone could leave such a place for ruin. The students had been replaced by dirt and debris. Desks were turned over and upside down. Valuable books sat rotting on shelves. This was enough for Moore to compile an entire body of art work that will grace the MSU campus gallery walls.
Moore, along with eight other senior art students, will display their work in the MSU BFA (Bachelor of Fine Art) Fine Art Thesis Show Tuesday, Nov. 9, through Thursday, Dec. 2.
There will be two receptions Thursday, Nov. 11 — one at 5:30 p.m. in the Department of Art Gallery in McComas Hall and the other at 6:30 p.m. in the Colvard Student Union Art Gallery. Both are open to the public. Food and drinks will be provided.
Like Moore, all the students in the show took intense initiative in their work. They have also, unknowingly, pinned two answers to a very old question against each other, begging the art viewer to consider whether art is most effective when it is evocative, or provocative.
Should we, or should we not, stick to the traditions that our entire lives are built upon? One side of the show, including Moore, deals with these traditions gracefully; the other challenges them.
Mary Catherine Davis of Carrollton focuses on a specific place where those traditions have influenced her most. Davis” six-paneled collage painting “relates to how the old farmlands and sleepy, dusty, Delta towns” (of her childhood) make her feel.
Riette Pace of Pretoria, South Africa, embodies memories of her own childhood with five panels of mixed media and oil paint.
Maggie Wooten, of North Alabama, pursues traditional darkroom processing to photograph the woods in the South, focusing on textures and layers. Mark Moore of Long Beach also sticks with established materials and processes, engaging carved wood to render textured, curvilinear shapes, showing off the lines of the natural forms.
There are, on the other hand, those traditions we choose to either ignore, or blatantly fight. Four of the senior art students involved are going against some of the accepted status quo, in order to provoke viewers into contemplating alternatives.
On one end of this progressive spectrum is Josh Gilmer, of Madison, who takes customary, functional ceramic pieces, designing them to resemble hard metal faceted machines.
Chris Bobo, of Batesville and Whitney Turnipseed of Greenville change the process by which information is typically derived. Bobo uses black and white film, with the alternative Lith printing process. This lengthy, difficult process allows him to “express his true fascination with nature.” Turnipseed is opposing the old-school idea that “everyone must understand the meanings of his/her dreams.”
In order to turn the heads of those who think “sculpture is supposed to be a heroic gesture made out of manly materials such as wood, bronze and marble,” Geoff Jeffreys of Madison uses pool toys, jelly beans, cardboard and other found objects to construct a small village.
Traditional rules of society and those opposing ideas have long been addressed in art, but these artists do much more than break those ideas down into pretty pieces of information for the masses.
They are putting out significant works about their own feelings toward everything from personal dreams to social waste and alternative solutions, in order to evoke and provoke the viewer to consider new possibilities.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.