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Mississippi Museum of Art Hosts 2009 Mississippi Invitational: Ten Artists Featured in Biennial Exhibition
Lee Renninger, Couture: Ring Toss, 2008, porcelain, with silver metallic thread, 60 x 60 x 60. Courtesy of the artist © Lee Renninger

JACKSON, MISS.- The Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA) brings its exhibition schedule full circle with the August 1 opening of the 2009 Mississippi Invitational. Following on the heels of the French-themed “Raoul Dufy” exhibition, the Mississippi Invitational highlights the artwork of ten artists who are currently working in the Magnolia State.

“We were so fortunate that we had the opportunity to host the masterpieces of internationally-renowned French artist Raoul Dufy. We now turn our attention to the creations of American artists, and Mississippi artists in particular. It is truly our privilege to present this new collection of work,” said Museum Director Betsy Bradley.

The artists, all Mississippi residents, are Duncan Baird, Cleveland; Brent Fogt, Jackson; Marita Gootee, Starkville; Philip R. Jackson, Oxford; David Lambert, Jackson; Annabelle Meacham, Senatobia; Christopher Miner, Jackson; Mathew Grant Puckett, Jackson; Lee Renninger, Gulfport; and Amanda Sparks, Jackson.

Initiated in 1997, the Mississippi Invitational surveys recent developments by visual artists residing in and working across the state, and includes work in diverse mediums. The 2009 exhibition marks the seventh installation and is on view through November 29, 2009. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue are both sponsored by The Hiatt-Ingram Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson/Jane and Wood Hiatt.

The Mississippi Invitational serves as a showcase for the state’s dynamic contemporary art scene, this year featuring 47 new works created in a range of media from drawing, painting and sculpture, to photography and video. Among the ten exhibiting artists are creators who have always lived and worked in the state, and others who are recent arrivals.

According to MMA Deputy Director of Programs Dan Piersol, “The artists’ mix of aesthetic approaches and strong personal visions make for a fascinating exhibition and confirms the vitality of Mississippi ’s contemporary art scene.”

The 2009 process began with a call to artists from the museum for sample images of artwork along with artists’ statements. More than 100 submissions were considered by New York City-based guest curator Peter Plagens, a nationally-recognized curator and art critic for Newsweek magazine. Plagens identified fifteen applicants for in-person studio visits and, after five days of statewide travel, narrowed that field to the final ten.

In addition to exhibiting in the Mississippi Invitational exhibition, all ten artists are eligible to apply for The Jane Crater Hiatt Artist Fellowship. The fellowship was created in 2005 by Jane and Wood Hiatt in response to the need to nurture and invigorate the arts. A grant of up to $15,000 is awarded to one of the ten exhibiting artists who may use it for study with an individual artist or in a studio, workshop, or residency setting; to pursue projects which further artistic development and support the realization of specific creative ideas; to purchase supplies and equipment; to conduct research; and to travel. The artist is then required to donate one original work of art to the Museum from at least five works created during the two-year grant period.

“Now with the third fellowship, Wood and I believe even more in the original idea: to enhance the artist’s vision and skill through travel and study,” Jane Hiatt stated. “We also want the fellowship to benefit the museum and Mississippi ’s standing in the visual arts.”

Thus far, the Museum has been the beneficiary of two works of art as a result of the Hiatt fellowship: a sculpture by 2005 fellowship recipient Kevin Turner and an oil painting by 2007 fellow Norma Sanders Bourdeaux.

“Through The Jane Crater Hiatt Artist Fellowship, these artists were given the time and monetary support to produce incredibly beautiful pieces that are now part of the museum’s permanent collection,” stated Bradley. “The entire Mississippi Invitational process is a positive and exciting experience for the Museum and the artists. And we have the Hiatts to thank for that.”

Mississippi Museum of Art | Raoul Dufy | Duncan Baird | Cleveland | Brent Fogt | Jackson | Marita Gootee | Starkville | Philip R. Jackson | Oxford; David Lambert | Jackson | Annabelle Meacham | Senatobia |

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