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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

An Expression of Life: The ‘Words and Art Gallery Series’ Comes to the Powerhouse

from DMonline by Katherine Westfall

For centuries, artwork has been inspired by poetry and the written word.

Now, that history is on display at the Powerhouse.

The “Word and Art Gallery Series,” the kick-off gallery for the 2011 Yoknapatawha Arts Council’s series of collections, will be displayed at the Powerhouse until March 25.

It features a wide variety of artists from Andi Bedsworth, a professor in the theater department at the University, to Lori Leigh Blaylock, the president of the Oxford Artist’s Guild.

The variety of styles among the artists displayed enhances the power of the collection.

While in everyday life words are used to simply convey messages from one person to another, the words chosen by these artists emit raw emotion.

Some artists drew their inspiration for the gallery from famous poets such as Robert Frost; others drew inspiration from poems of close friends. Others wrote their own.

Blaylock has written her own poetry and expressed those words in pieces of artwork for the gallery.

“I like to paint the intangible,” she said. “I want to leave (the viewer) with long-lasting thoughts.”

She hopes to encourage people to reach out to their neighbors and inspire people to be sensitive to others’ needs.
“I want my art to be emotional and to hopefully melt some of the ice that we have allowed to build,” Blaylock said. “If viewing my pieces can influence someone to be kinder, more sensitive to themselves, others and the environment, then I have been a success.”     

Bedsworth, a self-taught artist, took a somewhat lighter approach to the subject. Using the poetry of some of her close friends, Bedsworth decided to create a collection of artwork that is much different than her background in theatre costume design.

“I had the urge to work with paper and wood,” Bedsworth said.

Her collection in the gallery is diverse. It includes a dark mixed-media piece that depicts a girl, a raven pinata, Dubble Bubble wrappers and a set of three framed pieces of notebook paper with her “confessions of crazy things,” which are randomly spray-painted over Fleur dis Lis and chandeliers. Even though her work is different than anything she has ever done, Bedsworth admits that people can tell it is her work.

“I’m just stretching my legs,” she said.

The artwork is highly varied due to the vision of the artist, the inspiration that the artist drew from and the skill level of the artist.

Everyone in the community is given the opportunity to submit his artwork, regardless of formal training or prior gallery time.

The YAC and the Oxford Artist’s Guild work very closely to choose the right pieces of artwork and artists for each of their galleries throughout the year.

According to Wayne Andrews, YAC director, the artwork that is chosen for the gallery by a panel of YAC and Oxford Artist’s Guild members must be interesting and exhibit the theme of the collection in a fascinating way.

“We want the artists to experiment, temper their typical artwork,” Andrews said.

Artists from all over the Oxford community and surrounding areas are encouraged to try something that they may have never dabbled in before. Andrews hopes that these types of community art shows will help established artists with a regional reputation, as well as developing new artists.

The gallery is a free event and is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday until March 25.