The School of Visual and Performing Arts at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Harrison County Campus will present the group show entitled, “And Still I Rise: A Celebration of African-American Art and Culture,” on January 31-February 24. The show takes its name from the famous Maya Angelou poem of the same title, which speaks of the resiliency, strength, and beauty the African American community through years of oppression and discrimination.
The works reflect these themes as they address racial discrimination and violence in the past and present, as well as the triumphs of the African American community, particularly in the arts.
Among the featured artists is MGCCC alum Anthony Badon. “A huge part of my mission as an artist is to capture African-American pop culture as a means to bridge the gap between my people and the world of fine art,” he said. “Black culture is art.”
Badon said that most art galleries are filled with imagery and subjects that he can’t identify with. “When choosing subjects or scenes from movies to paint it’s important for me to translate a feeling onto my audience that they relate to,” he said. “I choose my subjects because I know what they mean to my people.”
MGCCC alum Precious Moore enjoys painting African American women she admires, such as Eartha Kitt. “While most women were known for being poised, graceful and ‘ladylike,’ Eartha was sensual. Sexy. Fearless. Her presence was something that could not be denied, even till the day she passed,” she said. “Her confidence and sex appeal paved the way for a lot of Black women, and I admire her so much for that.”
“Beautiful Black and Brown Butterflies: Gone Too Soon” is a work by Johnnie Mae Maberry, a fine-arts professor from Tougaloo College, one of Mississippi’s oldest historically Black colleges. “It commemorates the lives of Black men and women whose lives were shortened by the violence of lynching,” she explained. “Barely visible are transferred images representing victims of a painful history.”
Patt Odom’s pieces feature young African- American girls “in their pure state of innocence.” “My expressions are usually always about innocent, purity and beauty. There is too much ugliness in the world; my work will always reflect a positive look,” said Odom.
Participating artists include Anthony Badon, Tracy Williams, Cecily Cummings, Marian Glaser, Michelle Allee, Kededra Brown, Johnnie Mae Maberry, Herb Willey, Precious Moore, Patt Odom, Sabrina Stallworth, Tessa Rose, Cissy McCabe Quinn, JJ Foley, Becci Rae Edwards, Nonney Oddlokken, Andrew Switzer, Kelly Anne, and Molly McGuire.
A closing reception will be held for the exhibit on February 24 at noon in the fine art gallery. The reception will take place in conjunction with the campus’s Black History program scheduled during activity period the same day. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
The Harrison County campus is located at 2226 Switzer Rd, Gulfport. The art gallery is 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org or 228.897.3909.