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Released January 14, 2005

HATTIESBURG -- The Museum of Art at The University of Southern Mississippi will host an exhibition by the Pantheon Guild titled "Saints, Spirits, and Dreams" Jan. 18 through Feb. 17, with an opening and artist lecture from 4-6 p.m. Jan. 20.

Alehandro Wooten, a graduate of the Department of Art at Southern Miss and vice president of the guild, said students and faculty members in the department formed the group in 1992.

"At its high point, the group consisted of 12 members, plus faculty advisers," Wooten said. "Its focus was to begin the networking process between artists and creative venues. "

In October 2003, eight former members of the Pantheon Guild were collectively invited to show at the Hattiesburg Arts Council's Art Walk. "The happy reunion and subsequent exchange of energy between these alumni sent sparks flying," Wooten said. "The next logical progression was to show again-this time at our alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi."

The show will feature works by Southern Miss graduates including Wooten, a B.F.A. graduate and gallery director of Bobbe Gillis Inc. Professional Arts Services in Atlanta; Anthony DiFatta, a native of Hattiesburg and a B.F.A. graduate; Marabelle Hincher, a Mississippi native and M.F.A. graduate; Mandy Buchanan of Laurel and a B.F.A./M.A.E graduate; Carla Carlson of Hattiesburg and a B.F.A. graduate; Holly Atkinson Marchman, a native of Columbus and a B.F.A./M.A.E. graduate; and Sharon Spell, a B.F.A graduate residing in Pittsburg, Pa.

These graduates have had many life experiences since their Southern Miss days. DiFatta left his job as a graphic designer for MCI WorldCom in 2000 to pursue painting full time. He also teaches art to adults with mental illnesses through the Mississippi State Hospital and the Stubbs Homeless Program. He describes his work as "an exploration of new ideas and techniques" as well as a record of his experiences.

Originally from Mississippi and Louisiana, Hincher is now a "Texan artist and writer." A second-generation artist, her recent pieces utilize Southern folk art motifs and colors in combination with vintage materials and unusual images from antique bookplates and chromolithographs. She arranges these items over her original poems and prose.

Many of Hincher's paintings feature themes from fantastical religious visions combined with dreamlike creatures and mythological saints.

Buchanan, an artist, a teacher at Saint Johns Day School, and outreach coordinator for Lauren Rogers Museum in Laurel, "enjoys working vibrant colors and bold patterns" in her paintings. "My inspiration comes from a variety of things, such as faith, family, flowers, as well as the produce section of the grocery store," she explained.

Through a lifelong series of investigating the human figure in a defined space, Carlson's paintings evolved from her interest in "how the organic shape of a person can make sense in a rectangular environment."

"I always wanted to paint people," Carlson said. "I just didn't know what that meant or how I would do it." In recent years, she has set her figures in motion, turning the images around on an axis. Her theme is almost classical-man against his manmade environment or, as Carlson explains it, "us in our cubicles."

Now residing in Hickory Grove, S. C., Marchman has taught art at the secondary and university levels. Through her paintings and sculptures, her intent has been to create visual poetry of what she feels, experiences and imagines. Marchman has proclaimed herself has a "celebrationist," meaning her artwork is a "celebration of life."

Although her love for animals is paramount in her works, she is using more people--herself or people she knows--in her art.

Although she is an accomplished artist, Spell felt the call for "a life before an audience." She moved to Pittsburg, Pa., after receiving her B.F.A. Teaching at the Andy Warhol Museum and Carnegie Museum of Art, she dove headfirst into cabaret performances, putting her fine and distanced beauty on stage.

In recent years, she started making commercial drawings for a Pittsburgh publication, "Pulp," as well as for "The New Yinzer." For the Southern Miss exhibition, these works on paper merge new techniques with old strokes, providing a diversion from the traditional way Spell creates art.

Located in the Fine Arts Building at the southwest corner of the campus, the museum's hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m-5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission to the museum is free and open to the public. School and community group tours are welcome. For more information, call (601) 266-5200.


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April 1, 2005 11:10 AM