College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

‘Freak Show’ at Southside Gallery

October 1, 2014 | by Sara Kiparizoska
Courtesy of The Daily Mississippian

Photo of Blair Hobbs in her home art studio by Sara Kiparizoska

Blair Hobbs in her studio| Photo by Sara Kiparizoska/The DM

With pieces titled “Bearded Lady,” “Swordfish Swallower” and “Freak of Mother Nature,” Blair Hobbs, lecturer in English, is bringing new, more vibrant than ever works to Southside Gallery this week. The exhibit is appropriately titled “Freak Show” and includes pieces of vibrant colors and mixed media.

Hobbs is a familiar face in the Oxford art scene and at the gallery. A current creative writing professor at the University of Mississippi, Hobbs is known around campus and through the town for her vivacious personality and works of art.

Though born in Oxford, Hobbs grew up in Auburn, Alabama, where her life was always influenced by art.

“My mother was an art professor at Auburn,” Hobbs said. “Art was a part of life. I always had access to art materials. I didn’t want to be an art major because I fell in love with writing, and all the cool people were either artists or writers.”

After graduating with a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Michigan, Hobbs received a position at the University of Mississippi and returned to live in Oxford.

Hobbs is married to writer John T. Edge, director of UM’s Southern Foodways Alliance, and they have a son, Jess. Hobbs frequently exhibits her works at Southside and creates most of them in her lively home art studio.

Inspired by Mexican art and Eastern Orthodox expression, Hobbs creates pieces of any thing from recycled broken glass to candy wrappers and lots of sequins.

“These paintings are visual works on words,” Hobbs said. “I always like sparkling things and lots of it.”

“Freak Show” actually emerged while Hobbs and her husband were on a road trip in North Carolina.

“We bounced back and forth on titles, and I drew figures of the paper dolls,” Hobbs said. “That’s where it all came from.”

While most of her previous works have included studying different literary characters, Hobbs has transitioned into a more free style for this new collection.

“Now, since I’ve turned 50, my policy has been fun,” Hobbs said. “My intention is not to make fun of the freak but to celebrate all God’s freaks of nature, both real and unreal.”

Southside Gallery owner Vickie M. Cook said she is always proud to support local artists, especially Hobbs.

“It is always exciting to see what Blair might do next,” Cook said. “Her creativity in combining art and words is unmatched. By using fewer words in the work currently on exhibit, she encourages the viewer to create the narrative.”

Hobbs is very enthusiastic about her work and hopes to continue making her exuberant works.

“I just hope to be alive,” Hobbs said when asked about her future plans. “I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Hobbs said she is extremely grateful for the continuous support of the Oxford community.

“Oxford has been so fantastic for me; I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” she said. “When someone shouts down the grocery aisle, ‘Hey! I love the Bearded Lady,’ I can keep going.”

All art lovers are encouraged to experience the unique designs of Blair Hobbs during the month of October at Southside Gallery on the Oxford Square. The artist reception will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday.

For more information on gallery hours or artist info contact Southside Gallery at 662- 234-9090 or visit southsideartgallery.com.