Art & Design
Maggie Edwards is a senior working toward her Bachelors of Arts in Painting and Drawing with a minor in Forensics Anthropology. Edwards’s goal is to become a forensic artist, also known as a sketch artist, whereby she will use her artistic talents and apply the science of physical anthropology to solve criminal cases by identifying victims of crimes or lead to the apprehension and conviction of criminals.
Edwards explains, “For many years, I had my heart set on working in the justice system and keeping art as a hobby. However, my desire to draw and paint became too persistent to ignore. So, when I discovered the field of forensic art, a discipline that would allow me to work with both interests, I knew that I had to pursue it as a career.”
“I think the thing that draws me most to forensic art is the challenge it presents. In pretty much every other art discipline, the artist is the one who decides what to create and what the final product will look like. In forensics, however, it is either the witness or the skeletal remains that determine what a composite drawing or facial reconstruction will look like.”
Edwards was featured in USM's 2021 Annual Juried Student Show, in which her work placed 1st and 2nd place in the Ceramics category. She was awarded
in 2016 for Best in Show and First Place in Age Group in 2016 and 2017 for her entries
in the Times Daily Design an Ad competition. She submitted the winning entry for her artwork that was presented to
E.O. Wilson at The University of Alabama for his contributions to biodiversity research
Center for Writers
Clayton Bradshaw, a Ph.D. candidate in the Center for Writers at Southern Miss, writes fiction and nonfiction around the truths that define our lives. He has recently been working on a collection of magical realism short stories based in the South and braided memoir exploring the impact of trauma on memory.
Bradshaw explains, “My past writing has evolved the ways in which we perceive our trauma, helping others to reexamine their own to find a degree of agency within themselves. In the last year, this exploration has shifted to a greater understanding of how the past, present, and future torment us as we attempt to avert the gaze of our physical and cultural surroundings.”
“This collection will inspire others to look deep into the ways they perceive the world and events around them while considering the creation of myths, legends, and ghost stories in the areas in which they live. It will focus on Southern stories in Southern locations inhabited by Southern people,” adds Bradshaw.
Bradshaw holds a BA in English from Sam Houston State University and a Master’s of
Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Texas State University. In addition to his academic
and creative work, he teaches creative writing workshops through Art Spark and Down
South Word of Mouth, a nonprofit for which he serves as Vice-President. His work can
be found in Barren Magazine; Collateral; r.kv.r.y journal; The Deadly Writers Patrol; and War, Literature, and the Arts.
Brittany Tolbert is on track to receiving her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography and is also a member of the Honors College. She reads art as a language of the soul. Tolbert is currently on a journey to find the artist within herself and to express her voice in a way that connects humanity.
Tolbert elaborates, “I think of my many works as evidence of humanity. I’m perpetually pulled into action by the humanness of daily existence. What is it to be human?”
“My goal is to encourage others to search for their humanness, live in it, express it, and find the forgiveness that breathes within it. In doing so, my hope is for a happier world. A world that expresses its humanity freely and without judgment, fueled by shared compassion, understanding, and forgiveness.”
In seeking more field experience and more research opportunities, Tolbert has applied
for a summer internship at Sanspointe Dance Company in Birmingham, Alabama, where
she will participate in professional dance classes and production work over the summer.
Not only will this enhance her professional experience for post-graduation work, but
it will also greatly inform her research for thesis work in the next year.
Media and Entertainment Arts (Film)
Minor in English
Zain Hashmat is involved in co-curricular activities and serves in several leadership roles. He is currently the vice president of the USM Film Society, an English tutor in English in the USM Academic Successful Student Center, and a film reporter for the Student Printz campus newspaper.
“I have a love and fascination for the family melodrama, mainly because I think it’s the one thing none us can escape. Our parents and siblings will always be a part of our lives and the only thing we can do about that is face the pain, beauty, heartbreak, and love that comes with being a part of a family.”
Hashmat’s current project is a short film titled, Lucy. It is a coming of age story whereby, Lucy, the adolescent protagonist, experiences a turning point when she discovers her father kissing a woman that is not her mother. This experience creates a loss of innocence and she now sees her father as fallible and no longer her hero. She struggles to make sense of the world.
“I am interested in telling humanist, character-based dramas steeped in a deep knowledge of film and film history to create something timeless and specific”.
Hashmat is a true cinephile and has a passionate interest in films, film theory, and film criticism from the era of silent films to the French Avant-Garde Impressionism and French New Wave films to the splash of MGM musicals.
Hashmat’s work has been recognized by the Telluride Film Festival, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, The New Orleans Film Society, and he was a finalist for the 2017 Islamic Film Scholarship Fund.
Classical pianist, Zhenyu Yang, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from The East China University of Technology and he is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree of Music in Piano Performance at Southern Miss. He holds a music teaching certificate from China and has taught students for over six years. Yang’s pedagogy is to compare and contrast Eastern and Western music.
Yang plays a wide range of repertory: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century, and Contemporary. Across the wide range of repertory, his favorite composer to play is Mozart. “Music is the art of bringing multi-cultural generations together. Music is an important part of daily life around the world, but it is a major part of my life.”
“Whether through recording or live performances, I love to share music because it can bring joy to the people who listen across countries, cultures, and age groups,” added Yang.
He has won multiple scholarships and awards, including the Music Talent Scholarship
from the University of Wyoming, the East China University of Technology Scholarship,
and the Outstanding Award of The Prime Golden Bell Music Award of China. He was chosen
as one of fourteen pianists to join the University of Florida (UF) International Piano
Festival Artist Division and received the UF International Piano Festival 2019 Artist
Tristan King is a first-year Lighting and Sound Masters of Fine Arts candidate in Theatre (Design and Technology) in the School of Visual Performing Arts at Southern Miss. He received his undergraduate degree in Media and Entertainment (Sound and Recording Art) in 2020 from USM.
King was introduced to designing sounds using a soundboard for the USM production of The Illusion. “The experience opened my eyes to how sound can impact storytelling. As a designer, I want to push the boundaries of what sound design can achieve in theatre.”
King’s next project is to acquire the latest technology in the field using Soundtoys plug-ins to continue to design sound. This technology is sought-after by professionals for its quality, precision, analog vibe, and creative features.
“Using technology and software to create soundscapes and other sound effects that are not concrete realizations of what the script says, rather creating sounds that serve the emotional intent of the piece.”
King also has been a sound designer for several USM productions. As an undergraduate, he worked on USM’s productions of The Wolves as the lighting designer and The Oresteia as the sound designer. He received an Honorable Mention for his sound design for Describe the Night. Other recent productions The 39 Steps – A Radio Play; The Revolutionists.
Media and Entertainment Arts
Chris Brown is a Media and Entertainment Arts (Sound and Recording Arts) major in the School of Communication with a minor in theatre. Brown, a current Ronald E. McNair Scholar, is involved in co-curricular activities and serves in several leadership roles. He is currently the president of the Golden Eagle Sound and Production crew, the secretary of the Southern Miss Association of Black Journalist, secretary of USM Student Media, and is also an active member of Grammy U by The Recording Academy and the Audio Engineering Society.
Last semester, Brown directed, hosted and produced a show called Black People 101. The first episode featured the Hi-Hat Club here in Hattiesburg, which is a musical goldmine where artists such as James Brown, B.B. King, Otis Redding along with many others played. The Hi-Hat Club is also part of The Mississippi Blues Trail, an ongoing project of the Mississippi Blues Commission. Another of Brown's episode featured Miss Osceola McCarty, who is famous for donating her life savings to our University and was nationally recognized for her generosity.
As a McNair scholar, Brown is currently researching blues music. His research topic will be titled, “Is Blues on Life Support?,” and he is starting from the stables in the Mississippi Delta blues with artists such as David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters. From the foundation that these three artists made, he’ll go into depth about how the genre evolved, grew in popularity, and question if it's declining in today’s time.
Brown said, “I’ve gotten to talk very briefly with blues historian and author, Gayle Dean Wardlow, who lectured at the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience, where he talked about blues artists and how he was one of the people to do in-depth research on their lives.” Adding that he also played songs, as examples to the diverse styles of the genre.
Chase Romans is a Music Education major who grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Chase serves as the head drum major for The Pride of Mississippi (The Pride) and is an active member in the Southern Miss Saxophone Studio.
“The Pride of Mississippi is by far one of the best organizations I have worked with,” said Romans. “The staff and students in The Pride have created a feeling that I belong at this University and I can call it my home.”
Romans added, “My favorite moments with The Pride have been participating in our football games at The Rock. Performing in the stands and on the field and providing music to the crowd is exciting and it gives the whole band a chance to showcase our work.”
Romans also commended his colleagues, “Not only do I learn more about how to be a good leader, but I also learn much more about the people and the staff I get to work with on a daily basis—many lasting friendships and connections have emerged.”
Jamaican soprano, Danielle Watson, currently pursuing her Master of Music degree at Southern Miss and studying under the tutelage of Dr. Kimberley Davis, delves into her musical journey and career goals.
“My vocal journey as a soprano at USM has been an enlightening experience,” said Watson. “I have come to discover many unique aspects of my voice and the things I can accomplish using it. With that said, my ultimate goal is to open a music school for the Fine Arts in Jamaica, and create a transfer and recruitment program for those students who like to study abroad, as I have been privileged to experience.”
Watson added, “On the path to my ultimate goal, my aim is to gain as much knowledge and experience touring and performing on a variety of opera theatre stages all over the world.”
Watson has assumed several roles in USM productions, including Adina in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Sophie in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, and has appeared in multiple opera productions done by the Natchez Festival of Music. Watson’s most recent performance was in the dress rehearsal for USM Southern Opera and Theatre Company’s Showbiz: A Century of Showtunes.
Watch her moving duet called “If I Loved You” from the musical Carousel with student, David Walker.
Matt Snellgrove is a junior in the B.F.A. program for Theatre with an emphasis in costume design and technology. Snellgrove aspires to one day pursue his career as an artist in New York City and bring accurate representation to marginalized or underrepresented communities. He is also a staunch advocate for Theatrical Intimacy Education and is interested in how it can be applied to the world of costume design.
“I have goals of completing my studies at USM and finding work with a professional company for a year or two before applying to graduate school for costume design. I would like to continue to study queer history, while learning about other minority groups," said Snellgrove. "After graduate school, I plan to move to New York City to pursue my dream of living as a freelance costume designer, and along the way, I plan to fight for equal representation both on and off the stage," he added.
Sellgrove’s artistic statement highlights what art means to him:
“Art is taking your views on life and transposing them onto something that everyone can study and learn from. I may be a costume designer, but I am also an educator, a collaborator, and a leader. My art is my own, but it is also the property of the public. Why strive for the bare minimum, when I have the responsibility to make the world a better place?”
As a playwright, Cayson Miles focuses on showing audiences queer stories that are empathetic, emotional, real, and not the stereotypical depiction that can be displayed in theatrical spaces.
Miles said, “Theatre as an art form is something that allows the audience to connect with situations and characters outside of their normal realm of perception, and it is the playwright’s job to facilitate this connection in their script.”
Miles is the recipient of the John Cauble Award for Outstanding Short Play for region four of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival 2020 for his short play The Waves, and his play Wax People with Real Hearts was also selected as a finalist in the ten-minute category of this same festival. In 2018, Cayson was the runner-up for Mississippi Theatre Association's Best Adult Playwright.
In his short play, The Waves, he used the stage directions as a character and as the driving force behind the play. His main character, Michael, wrestles with mental health, so a dialogue begins between him and the stage directions of the play. Miles sheds the light on his own mental health struggles, and hopes the play is relatable with audience members who may be dealing with the same thoughts.
Miles is a junior pursuing a B.A. in Theatre with a minor in English. Cayson is an active student leader, serving as the leader of Writers @ Play, a playwriting group, PRISM in Theatre, an LGBT theatre group, and Treasurer of Alpha Psi Omega. He is also an active member in Skip the Script Improv Troupe, USM Lit Games, and Stand-Up USM, and a Southern Miss Honors College student.
Center for Writers
Mary L. Christensen, Ph.D. candidate in the Center for Writers at Southern Miss, has recently been working on a series of persona poems that dissect the popular “Final Girl” trope. This trope, common in horror films, uses a young female character to further the plot.
“Not only does Final Girl survive the film’s villain, but she is a symbol for what is socially admirable,” Christensen said. Through Final Girl, Christensen incorporates both her feminist beliefs and personal subject matter. As she describes the poems in this series, Christensen mentions they vary in form, from wedding her “old” writing style to the more current, highlighting that her writing occupies the liminal, currently in a period of transition, self-examination, and growth.
Christensen has lived in southwest deserts, in kudzo-infested Appalachia, the PNW, and currently resides in Mississippi. Christensen is Managing Editor of The Swamp Literary Magazine. Her work can be found in Permafrost, Driftwood Press, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Sugar House Review, among others.
The 2019 Emerging Artist award recipients are:
Emilee Fitzgerald, art and design student majoring in sculpture and a minor in graphic design, uses her work to cope with her symptoms of mental illness and ADHD. Fitzgerald has always been interested in depicting emotions and shedding light through her artwork.
Fitzgerald described her latest project titled “Deficit:”
“The piece is a shelve on a wall, with six compartments. Each compartment holds an experience from my life or visualizes a symptom. This piece embodies how I feel and is meant to be relatable to its audience.” To create this piece Fitzgerald used found objects, wood, paint, and clear candle wax. She is always exploring different materials to use, and is drawn to woodworking, iron pouring, and transforming found objects.
Fitzgerald will attend a conference for iron pouring and will purchase supplies for future sculpture projects.
Rachel Fowler is pursuing her Ph.D. at the USM Center for Writers. Fowler has been published in Deep South Magazine and Ant Farm Journal, named the winner of a Prime Number Magazine Flash Fiction Contest, named a finalist in the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers, and nominated for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Intro Journals Project. Currently, she serves as an Associate Editor of Mississippi Review.
Fowler will build a collection of experiences to draw from while she studies abroad this summer with the British Studies Program on Gothic Victorian Literature to continue writing her collection of short stories, Mother Static. Her short stories focus on characters affected by music, visual art, or performance, so she plans on attending a play, two classical concerts, two museums, and a contemporary sound art performance for inspiration.
Averi Mazur is a sophomore majoring in performance and choreography. Mazur is originally for Oklahoma and danced at a local studio for eight years before moving to Hattiesburg to continue pursuing her education. It is because of the support of faculty along with the education, and hard work that Mazur is able to make connections in the dance world.
Mazur’s artistic statement highlights the significance of connecting with others through movement: “Valuing the ability to connect through movement has always been at the forefront of my dancing platform. Finding a connection, a common energy within myself or another human is single handedly the most genuine connection someone can experience. In my choreography, it is the power behind a simple movement that allows the audience to be welcomed into their own minds, without speaking a single word.”
With this financial support from Partners, Mazur plans to attend a dance conference in Denver, Colorado.
Rodrigo Lara Alonso is a third year Ph.D. student in Music Education, as a student of Dr. Nicholas Ciraldo. He graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico before earning a master’s degree in Guitar from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a performer diploma from IU-Jacobs School of Music. Rodrigo is the founder and director of Octeto Sicaru, a prize-winning guitar ensemble.
The Emerging Artists Award will support Lara Alonso’s trip to the Latin American Forum of Music Education (FLADEM) in Colombia, where he will be presenting his current research on the philosophy of music education in Latin America.
Claire Brenia is a sophomore pursuing a BFA in Theatre Design and Technology and a minor in Art. Brenia has been studying art since her freshman year of high school. Through art, she found her way into theatre by painting sets for her high school theatre’s productions. From there, she took on set design, costume design, and even acting. Brenia is currently on a Scenic Design track and ultimately strives to be a scenographer.
This year, Brenia will be attending the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) with the hopes of finding a summer internship, so she can gain some real-world experience. To achieve this goal, she will work on her professional portfolio. Brenia will also purchase books and begin her own reference library that provides her with resources for both technical work and design inspiration. Brenia strives to create works through design that evoke critical thought, so audiences can experience, reflect upon, and grow from those reactions, and the Partners funds would ultimately cater to that whim.
The 2018 Emerging Artist award recipients are:
Alex Townsend is currently working towards earning his B.F.A. in Drawing/Painting and Sculpture. Townsend has exhibited work nationally and will be featured in the national, group exhibition “In the Belly of the Beast: A Metal Casting Exhibition,” in Birmingham, Alabama May 4 - August 26, 2018.
The Emerging Artist Award will support Townsend’s artistry, as he’ll be purchasing materials to support his research of casting three dimensional forms in bronze. Townsend will be presenting the explored techniques of bronze casting during his senior capstone exhibition.
Currently, Nickalus Rupert is a P.h.D. student at the USM Center for Writers, where he works as an associate editor for Mississippi Review. His fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming in such journals as Harpur Palate, Slice Magazine, The Literary Review, Passages North, Pleiades, Sonora Review Online, and Tin House Online, and can be found at Grist Online.
The Emerging Artist Award will support Rupert’s trip to The Bryan Museum in Galveston, Texas, where his novel Giants of the False Desert is loosely set. By Fall 2018, he hopes to have a final, publishable draft of the novel. After completing his degree, Rupert will pursue an academic career as a creative writing instructor and/or editor.
Gabriela Salazar began dancing at a local dance studio in Mobile at the age of six. Salazar joined Davidson High School’s dance company in her freshman year and it was there where she realized she wanted to pursue dance at the collegiate level. At Southern Miss, Reedy has had the pleasure of furthering her training—developing her own artistic voice and preparing to become an educator for future dance artists.
Salazar plans to use the Emerging Artist Award towards her trip to London with the British Studies program. During her visit, she’ll work on a dance film, which will be showcased in the British Studies Concert held by the Department of Dance at the beginning of Fall 2018.
Guilherme Oliveira, Brazilian double bass player, began his D.M.A. in Performance and Pedagogy in 2017 with Dr. Marcos Machado. Oliveira has studied with many renowned bass players, like Milton Masciadri (EUA/URU), Michinori Bunya (GER/JAP), Joel Quarrington (CAN), and François Rabbath (FRA). In 2016, Oliveira was one of editors of the double bass book about left hand technique, TAO of Bass, written by Dr. Machado. In Brazil, his research named The Choice of Fingering in Double Bass Performance: A Study About the Process of Optimization of Schools Double Bass was selected for presentation at a Symposium on Music Research—SIMPEMUS 6.
Oliveira plans to use the Emerging Artist Award towards his trip to the 6th European Biennial Double Bass Congress & Festival, to be held at Institute of Musical Studies "Luigi Boccherini," where he will present his research to the European bass community. Oliveira will also have the opportunity to take masterclasses from international leading double bass players and be one of the many to grow the world's bass culture.
Payton Reedy, a senior pursing a B.A. in Theatre with an emphasis in Performance and Set Design and a B.F.A. in Graphic Design, is a student leader and an active member of the Southern Miss Honors College, Chi Omega Sorority, Student Government Association, Alpha Psi Omega, and Art and Design’s Creative Collective. This semester, Reedy was the assistant set designer for Brecht’s Galileoand performed in the Three Short Plays by David Ives showcase.
Reedy has been working on her Honors Thesis focused on movement exploration in theatre, and the Emerging Artist Award will aid her efforts in gathering research and setting up a showcase for this creative project. Reedy will be able to buy needed movement books and gather materials needed to complete her thesis project.
The Emerging Artist Awards are possible thanks to the Partners for the Arts Endowment (Legacy Membership). Visit usm.edu/partners-arts to join or renew your membership!