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Released August 7, 2003


HATTIESBURG - The University of Southern Mississippi Museum of Art will host an opening reception from 4-6 p.m., Aug. 14, for two exhibitions featuring the work of Southern Miss Department of Art graduate JJ Foley and the late distinguished art professor and painter Hiram Williams.

Foley, of Long Beach, is a well-known and highly successful figurative artist. Her drawings and paintings are executed in mixed mediums, and she uses the figure to evoke emotional response, whether in a light, veiled, dreamlike environment or in a dark, intimate setting. Since she was a small child, her primary artistic interest has always been the figure, with its ability to convey the fragile intimacy of personal experience - spirituality, tragedy, sensuality, peacefulness, loneliness and expectation. Using her art to explore these emotions, Foley said she draws the viewer "into these inner workings of the soul, which exists in all of us."

Since 1980, Foley has exhibited in several galleries along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, particularly at Art Who? Gallery in Ocean Springs. She has participated in several art association group shows and won numerous awards in juried exhibits, including "Best of Show."

In 1988, she had her first major one-woman show at the Bienville Gallery in New Orleans, which art critic Roger Green called "…the best New Orleans debut in years." Her work is included in collections across the United States, and she is now represented by Serenity Gallery in Bay St. Louis and by SAI Gallery and Kew Gallery in New York City.

Known not only for expressive paintings but also his critically acclaimed book Notes to a Young Painter, Williams' art career spans 60 years. Born in 1917 in Indianapolis, Ind., Williams grew up in Pennsylvania, where he discovered his talent for and a love of art after a family friend taught him to draw during Williams' recovery from a childhood head injury.

In 1940, he immersed himself in the art scene in New York City and attended the Art Students League. He was drafted the following year into the U. S. Army and served in World War II, including under Gen. George Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he earned a degree from Pennsylvania State University and began teaching, yet he continued to pursue his art.

Williams was inducted to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1994, 12 years after he retired from the University of Florida. He continued to paint the rest of his life. He had 60 solo exhibitions and has been included in many prestigious invitationals; among them, the Whitney Biennial, the Corcoran Biennial and the Carnegie International. His work is part of major collections, including New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art. Williams died in January at his home in Gainesville, Fla.

The show will close Sept. 12. Admission to the museum and all events is free and open to the public. School and community groups are encouraged to visit.

The museum - open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturdays - is located on the southwest corner of the Southern Miss campus.

For more information, call the Southern Miss Museum of Art at (601) 266-5200.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM