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Today is June 4, 2020

Mississippi Invitational

A showcase of contemporary artists from across the state

By Sandra M. Buckley

Mississippi Invitational

Colorful Rivermouth, by G. Douglas Adams of Natchez

Mississippi’s creativity spans countless forms of artists and is celebrated the world over – and our contemporary visual artists are no exception. “Not unlike the musical traditions born in Mississippi or the worldwide impact of Mississippi’s writers, our state’s visual artists are making work out of their particular personal narratives and lives that speak to universal themes and human conditions,” said Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson. “It is that transference of the particular visual imagery to a shared human experience that makes Mississippi’s creative output so meaningful to the rest of the country.”

As a way to promote contemporary artists from across the state, the Mississippi Museum of Art hosts a biennial Mississippi Invitational, a distinguished art show that honors, recognizes and showcases these talented artists and their artwork. And this year, from June 29 through August 11, the 2019 invitational exhibit is on view at the museum.

Of 130 artists who submitted entries of various art forms for the invitational, 23 will have their work displayed. “From Tupelo to Natchez, from Cleveland to Poplarville, from a community of 300 to a city of 200,000 – the artists included represent an array of Mississippi regions and cultural environments,” said Stacy Clark, director of communications and marketing for the museum. “The artwork depicts a diverse range of subjects – photographs of Mississippi sunsets, swamps, and black cowboys on horseback, paintings of flora and flooded fields, sculptures of colorful creatures underwater and on land. Even Eudora Welty makes an ‘appearance.’”

For each invitational event, a guest curator is invited to be a part of the artist selection process. This year, it was Dr. Kimberli Gant, McKinnon Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia. “Her role was to consider all submissions and narrow down the potential exhibition participants through a ‘blind’ selection process,” Clark explained. “She then visited those artists’ studios to meet them and see more of their work; and following those visits, she curated the final checklist of works that are included in the exhibition.”

“We hope to help cultivate an atmosphere in Mississippi that rewards artists who build their careers here,” added Bradley. “We do this by connecting them with the out-of-state curators who visit their studios, building their exhibition resumes, publicizing their work throughout the region, and financially supporting one artist during each exhibition with a fellowship.”

In addition, the invitational artists vie for the exclusive Jane Crater Hiatt Fellowship program. “The fellowship provides funds to one artist to further their artistic development through study, travel, research and even the purchase of supplies and equipment,” said Clark. 

The Mississippi Invitational is an esteemed event that offers Mississippi artists and art appreciators, alike, an exceptional chance to explore the world of contemporary art, right here at home. 

“The Mississippi Invitational provides families and Mississippians of all ages with a wonderful opportunity to see art created by living artists who call Mississippi home,” added Clark. “These are our friends and neighbors, our teachers and mentors, and their work is at the heart of the continued growth of Mississippi’s artistic legacy.”
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