portrait of African-American pilot
“Portrait of Jesse Leroy Brown” by Marc Poole

MGCCC Jackson County Campus celebrates African-American influences in art

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jackson County Campus will present “Celebrating African-American Influences in Paintings, Pottery and Poetry” on Thursday, February 28, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Warner Peterson Building Lecture Hall. This presentation will focus on artists and poets from our faculty and student body.

“African-American culture has had a tremendous influence on all facets of American culture,” said Brad Bailey, fine arts instructor. “In this program, with the help of faculty, staff, students and our local community, we would like to celebrate the incredible worldwide influence that African Americans from Mississippi have had on the arts.”

Artist and MGCCC instructor Marc Poole will share an incredible story about Jesse Leroy Brown, a man from Hattiesburg who broke multiple socioeconomic and color barriers to become the first African-American pilot in the U.S. Navy. Brown’s story is documented in multiple books and is worthy of a full-length movie. Poole, a premier aviation artist who was inspired by this story, has captured Brown in many of his works. One piece is on display in the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby.

Instructor Curtis Houston takes much of his inspiration from his favorite music, all of which is rooted in the Mississippi Delta Blues. Bluesmen like B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and others have inspired multiple pieces of Houston’s signature pieces (iron ink decals on ceramic pottery). Inspired not only by their music, but also by the incredible stories of these legendary bluesmen, Houston said, “It was within the works of these specific Southern blues-based artists that I found my own voice. This is no surprise, as these cultural icons have inspired both music and art all over the world.”

Student winners of the MGCCC Black History Month Poetry Contest will share their poems, which were inspired by the Langston Hughes poem “I, Too.” In his poem, Hughes examines what it means to be an American. “Along with Hughes’ other work, this influential poem helped to shape the aesthetics of the Harlem Renaissance,” said Dr. Jordan Sanderson, Language Arts Department chair. “It invites contemporary readers to contemplate issues of race, identity, and culture, ultimately helping us to construct a definition of America that includes all of the people who make the country thrive.”

All students, faculty, staff and community members are encouraged to attend, to learn and be inspired. There is no charge for admission. For more information, contact Dr. Brad Bailey, 228.497.7753 or brad.bailey@mgccc.edu.

Legendary bluesman Muddy Waters on ceramic pottery
“Muddy” on ceramic pottery by Curtis Houston
Legendary blues artist B.B. King playing his guitar on front of ceramic pottery
“B.B. King” on ceramic pottery by Curtis Houston

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