In celebration of Black History Month, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Jefferson Davis Campus Fine Arts Gallery is hosting “Where History Meets the Future,” a collection of works from the fine arts faculty and students of Tougaloo College during the month of February. The exhibit runs through February 27.
Tougaloo College, located on the northern edge of Jackson, Mississippi, is one of the oldest historically black colleges in America. The independent, liberal arts institution was founded in 1869 by the American Missionary Association. The college was built on the remnants of the John Boddie Plantation, the place that formerly enslaved the minds, bodies and hearts of African Americans and was transformed into a place of freedom through education and opportunity.
The Visual Arts program at Tougaloo offers instruction in painting, drawing, sculpting, printmaking and art history. The school houses Mississippi’s largest collection of African-American and African art, as well as many international prints and 20th century American paintings.
Participating artists include faculty members Phoenix Savage, Johnnie Maberry and Bruce O’Hara, and students Krystal Alexander, Angel Almora, Linda Beasley, Marlo Butler, Valentino Franco, Lynnette Gilbert, Justin Giles, Alex Griffin, Alessandriel Harper, Raegan Johnson, Deja Patterson, Jordan Simmons, Anastasia Taylor and Hasin Yun Tung.
Savage, who holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from Georgia State University in sculpture, said, “The subject matter I teach is important not because it is art or art is great –it is– but the true reason to engage the courses I teach is for the opportunity to allow the mind time to explore itself.”
O’Hara holds an MFA degree in sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute. “I hope to make a space where the students are allowed to awaken their own inner love of learning and creating. This, I think, generates self-confidence as well as fuels patience and persistence when the road gets rough.
“It is wonderful to know I am contributing with my small, ordinary day-to-day efforts to something that is much bigger than myself,” O’Hara said of his college’s legacy. “Tougaloo is an educational institution that has been in the forefront of social progress for 150 years and will no doubt continue long into the future in this same vein. I marvel at how lucky I was to have fallen into this amazing opportunity.”
Maberry is currently completing her dissertation in art and philosophy from the Institute of Doctoral Studies in Visual Arts in Portland, Maine. She is most proud of the successes of her many students, who continue to be great contributors to the visual-arts culture. “Working at Tougaloo has been the fulfillment of a life dream for me. There is a great deal of pride in being connected to an institution that has brought so many positive changes to the state of Mississippi. It is doubly rewarding and an awesome privilege to impact students who continue the artistic/creative, educational and social-justice legacy.”
The exhibit’s closing reception will be part of the Jefferson Davis Campus Black History Month program that will take place on February 27 from 12:20-1:20 p.m. in the Fine Arts auditorium. Among other guest speakers, the Tougaloo College faculty will discuss the history of the school and answer questions from prospective students.
There is no admission to the exhibit, and it is open to the public. The Jefferson Davis Campus is located at 2226 Switzer Road in Gulfport. The Fine Art Gallery is located in the Fine Arts building (Building D).
Gallery hours are Monday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–3 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. For more information, contact gallery director Cecily Cummings, email@example.com or 228.897.3909.