Oil painting of creole woman in traditional dress
“Creole Woman” by Princella Graham

Celebrating a “Common Ancestry”

The Fine Arts Gallery at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jefferson Davis Campus is hosting “Homogeny: A Celebration of African-American Art and Culture” February 5- March 1. A closing reception will be held on March 1 at noon in the gallery.

The exhibit features local artists, including:

  • Ellen Ellis Lee
  • Ruth Miller
  • Princella Graham
  • Carole Marie
  • Cissy McCabe Quinn
  • Tessa Stockstill
  • Pat Odom
  • Jeanel Walker and many more

“Homogeny” is defined as a similarity in structure of individuals or parts because of common ancestry, an apt name for a show that highlights the diverse talents of Coast artists working in a similar theme.

The artists are depicting traditional subject matter, but paying tribute to culture and heritage in new and innovative ways,

said gallery director Cecily Cummings.  “The exhibit reflects their various life experiences and talents in many different media, resulting in works that are completely new and original.”

A History of Theatricality

Among the featured artists is Ellen Ellis Lee of Ocean Springs, who retired after 25 years of working in Broadway theatre, feature film and TV costume departments.

“I’m creating one-of-a-kind mixed-media figurative sculptures, vases and wall art. My partners are clay, textiles, paint, wood, nature’s gifts, and recycled and repurposed goodies,” she said. “I like the marriage of juxtaposed entities and using them in unexpected ways. The emotions reflected in my work are influenced by nature, fashion, costumes, music, tribal dress and African art.”

Something Old, Something New

Ruth Miller of Picayune said her art is primarily narrative-influenced portraiture. “Renaissance” is a study she made to improve her compositional skills. Though the subject matter is nonrepresentational, as she worked on it, a narrative came to mind.

“Each of the spirals seemed to represent a thought or idea, and, as in real life, each is influenced by a discovery made at another time in another location. The new and the old cooperate in a new birth,” she said.

A Varied Heritage

Princella Graham of Ocean Springs is known for her pottery and hand-built creations that capture the beauty of her African-American, Native American and Creole roots.

“I am inspired by the spiritual essence, classic earthy designs, and brilliant colors of native and ethnic art that reflects nature and my cultural ancestry,” she said of works such as “Creole Woman.”

Many of her pieces are named after the ethnicities she encountered during her travels to Senegal and the Gambia of West Africa.

“The tribal names are as beautiful and fascinating as the people and their lands,” she said.

Art Inspired by Experience

Carole Marie of Ocean Springs created her “Afrika” series after spending a week visiting Uganda, Africa, one of the world’s poorest countries, as part of a medical team in 2008.

“The Ugandans would sometimes walk for miles, often taking days to reach our satellite medical team,” she said. “Everyone would wait patiently for their turn and were most appreciative and thankful of our time. We loved the kind and gentle nature of these beautiful people.”

Event Details

The exhibit is free and open to the public.  The gallery is located in the Fine Arts Building, Building D, 2226 Switzer Road, Gulfport.  Hours of operation are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

For more information, contact Cecily Cummings at 228.897.3909 or cecily.cummings@mgccc.edu.  Visit the Fine Arts Department on Facebook at MGCCC Jefferson Davis Campus Fine Arts Department and on Instagram at MGCCC_JeffersonDavisFineArts.

Painting of a traditionally dressed African woman
“The Shaman” by Pat Odom
sculpture of woman made from found beach objects and textiles
“Sandra Sue Starfish” by Ellen Ellis Lee

Interested in MGCCC’s art programs? Learn more about enrolling at MGCCC.

Share This Article