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Released November 22, 2004

SENIOR ART EXHIBITION OPENS AT SOUTHERN MISS

HATTIESBURG - After years of intensive study, training and lots of midnight oil, graduating seniors of the Department of Art at The University of Southern Mississippi will celebrate their academic achievements Dec. 2-17 with an exhibition of their works at the university's Museum of Art.

The show will feature works of 11 graduating visual art students. A reception opens the exhibit from 4-6 p.m. Dec. 2 at the museum.

"We are very proud of all our graduates, both in graphic communications and fine arts," said associate professor of art DeAnna Douglas. "Their work in this exhibition demonstrates the level of professionalism that our students have attained."

A senior project involves the creation and defense of a substantial body of work. It is required of all students pursuing a bachelor of fine arts and an optional requirement for students seeking a bachelor of arts.

"Completing a senior project and exhibiting in the Senior Show are integral parts of our curriculum," said Jennifer Torres, chair of the Department of Art at Southern Miss. "The process is quite rigorous and not every student satisfies the requirements the first time. However, the faculty believes that successful completion of a senior project helps prepare our students for graduate study or to embark on a career in the visual arts."

The exhibition includes seven graphic communications students: Michael Cota of Gautier, John Sykes of Crystal Springs, Sam McAlister of Hattiesburg, Crystal Cagel of Ocean Springs, Chris Cobb of Blue Springs, Dana Warzecha of Bay St. Louis, and Stephanie Herrin of Picayune.

Cobb created "Teacher Kreatures" to "expose kids to the academic world around them through a series of collectable products." "The goal of the brand is to help children learn more about the arts and sciences by stimulating their imagination," Cobb explained.

Using one of the most famous but yet hidden treasures of Prague-"The Old Jewish Graveyard"- as inspiration, McAlister's project is a "plan that highlights this historic site," using a book, brochure, ticket, and poster design, as well as signage.

Four fine arts students will include works in the show. Jamie Spinello of Brandon will show paintings of multiple figures in changing environments. "The figures are not literal but are abstracted as are their environments," he explained.

Jamie Dale Allen of Gulfport will cast a swarm of bee sculptures out of fiberglass resin. "For my senior project, I'm combining my fascination with insects with my love of resin as a casting medium," Allen said. "Some of my perceptions of the human condition have taken the form of bugs that interest me."

Spence Thompson of Hattiesburg will be showing paintings of figures in chairs or standing, and Andy Jessup, also of Hattiesburg, will show a number of large ceramic sculptures.

"Currently my sculptures are about abstracting the essence of the human body," Jessup said. "My work utilizes texture and movement to help capture its energy."

"This public exhibition is an important component of our program," said museum director Mark Rigsby. "Being able to display a finely honed body of work in a professional manner will help define the career goals of our graduates."

The University of Southern Mississippi Museum of Art is located in the Fine Arts Building at the southwest corner of campus. The hours of operation are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m-5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission to the museum and reception is free and open to the public. School and community groups are welcome. Call Rigsby at (601) 266-5200 for more information.

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December 9, 2004 12:27 PM