Wednesday, September 18, 2013
A grouping of three paintings hangs on one wall of the Marie Hull Gallery at Hinds Community College's Raymond campus. The focal center, Mississippi artist Sherry Ferguson's beautifully and boldly watercolored painting "Center," is a large close-up of a flower center—done in vivid, saturated, velvety tonal colors, from cranberry to shrimp pink to peach—you can almost feel.
On the left hangs Laurel Schoolar's still-life of gourds titled "Big Guy," painted in a plum, scarlet and golden-orange palette. On the right is Wanda Monk's zebra painting, titled "The Division." The siennas and oranges contrast against the graphic black and white of the zebra, making the animal come to life.
"The gorgeous colors in the center floral painting hanging between the gourds and the zebra all together make a wonderful abstraction," says Melanie Atkinson, chairwoman of the college's fine art department. "The colors in the gourd and the zebra really play off the vibrant flower in the middle. I hang the exhibits myself, and I try to create something special in how I combine the sometimes thematically and stylistically unrelated pieces of art."
These three watercolors are just a sampling from the Mississippi Watercolor Society exhibit titled "Selected Works from Current Members." The event kicks off the 2013-2014 season at The Marie Hull Gallery.
The spacious, soothingly quiet gallery takes its name from the prominent 20th century Jackson artist known working with many mediums, including watercolor.
"Marie Hull had a very wide hand," Atkinson says. "We are very fortunate to have several pieces of her work spread out around campus. The gallery that bears her name is a wonderful component of our art program, the largest community college art program in the southeast."
More than two dozen Mississippi Watercolor Society members created the watercolor paintings. Atkinson visited the Mississippi Museum of Art during a competitive national watercolor show and was so impressed with the quality of the work that she was compelled to ask the society to join this fall's schedule.
The subject matter of the paintings varies widely. It includes still lifes, portraits, abstracts, animals and architecture. Many of the paintings are quite vivid in their coloration. Susan Wellington's "Just Hitched," a rather poignant painting of three labor animals in their harnesses is striking in its bold oranges, reds and purples.
Across the gallery, Martha Andre's "Sunset in the Swamp" uses the same bold colors as a backdrop for hauntingly stark and dark cypress trees, as does Elke Briuer with her more abstract twined and knarled tree limbs in "Trees #1."
Atkinson hung two of artist Sally Todd's paintings together: William Faulkner's tombstone with bottles placed on it, titled "The Unvanquished," and "Eudora Welty's House," a painting of the writer's home in Belhaven. They make an interesting and thought-provoking juxtaposition of the two famous Mississippi authors.
The gallery's season features six exhibits throughout the school year. Kelley Walters' show, called "Synaptic Sketches: Night," and a Hinds Community College Art Faculty Show, "New Works, New Thoughts" are coming this fall. In the spring semester, Atkinson will gather works from the Hinds Community College permanent collection, including pieces by Hull and one of her mentors, Sammy Britt, for "Twenty-five of Mississippi's Best." The season closes with Steve Cook's "Fondren and Other Works" and, finally, the Hinds Community College Student Show and Competition.
"Selected Works from Current Members" is at the Marie Hull Gallery in the Katherine Denton Art Building (505 East Main St., Raymond, 601-857-3275) through Sept. 20.
The gallery is open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. until noon. Admission to the gallery is free. Go to hindscc.edu for more information.