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USM Alumni, Faculty Artists to be featured in the Mississippi Museum of Art Invitational

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 12:19pm | By: Ivonne Kawas

Photos of artists with the title Mississippi Museum of ArtFour alumni and a faculty member from The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) were invited to participate in this year’s Mississippi Invitational exhibition, held by the Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA).

MMA selected 42 artists to be featured in the 2021 Mississippi Invitational exhibition, a survey of recent works created by contemporary visual artists living and working in the state.

The highly competitive cohort includes local USM-affiliated artists, including alumni Karen Gilder of Florence, who was trained in photojournalism; Spence Townsend of Greenwood, who earned a BFA in painting and drawing; Gregory Walker of Jackson, who earned his BA in radio, television, and film as well as an MS in mass communication; and Whitson Ramsey of Hattiesburg, who earned his BFA in drawing and painting; and Professor of Sculpture and Ceramics, Jennifer Torres of Hattiesburg.

As the largest art museum in the state, the MMA offers a vibrant roster of exhibitions, public programs, artistic and community partnerships, educational initiatives, and opportunities for exchange year-round. This is the largest number of artists represented at the Mississippi Invitational since the Museum launched the biennial program in 1997.

Invitational artists are competitively chosen, and the exhibition will feature unique works across a variety of media. Selected artists will be given the opportunity to showcase their talent and positively represent USM.

"I am honored to once again be included in the highly competitive Mississippi Invitational,” said Torres, professor of sculpture and ceramics in the Art and Design program. “What makes this year's exhibition even more exciting is the USM alumni also included in the show.”

“To be in such an outstanding show with alumni, some of whom took classes with me, is a proud moment for me and all the faculty in our program,” she added.

In addition to showcasing their work, the artists have unique perspectives and skills to offer to this year’s invitational.

The works and pieces being showcased, include:

  • A pigment print photograph titled, The Landing, showcased by Gilder;
  • An oil canvas titled, At the Train Station, showcased by Townsend;
  • Collaborative pieces of cyanotype with Mississippi River water on cotton paper titled, Tetraptych 1, Tetraptych 2, and Pentaptych 1, showcased by Walker and Pat Galluzzo;
  • An oil and graphite canvas titled, The Day My Grandmother Became a Widow, showcased by Ramsey; and
  • A wood, foam, fiberglass, resin sculpture titled, Purple Mountain Majesty, showcased by Torres.

On view August 14 through October 10, 2021, this year’s Mississippi Invitational works were selected by guest curator Danielle Burns-Wilson, current chief curator at the Houston Public Library and adjunct professor of art history and art appreciation at Lone Star College-North Harris Campus.

Invitational artists will be eligible to apply for The Jane Crater Hiatt Artist Fellowship—a grant of up to $20,000 awarded to one artist. The recipient will be announced during an opening reception on August 13.

MMA Director Betsy Bradley said, “The might and fortitude of artists has always been an inspiration to me. In the face of all that is contrary, they summon the courage and strength to make something that speaks their truth to other people. And our communities are better for it. The 2021 Mississippi Invitational demonstrates that the power to make something beautiful, to survive, to connect with ideas and with others, can be stronger than the temptation to withdraw.”

During the month of Aug. 2021, MMA will offer free admission as a way to welcome visitors back after the pandemic. Weekly hours are Thursday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon – 5 p.m.

General admission is $15/Person; $13/Seniors and groups of 10+, $10/College students with school ID; and free for Museum Members, children ages 5 and under, and K-12 students on Thursdays thanks to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi.

COVID-19 Guidelines: The Mississippi Museum of Art requires that masks be worn at all times in the Museum and has several hand-sanitizing stations located throughout the building.

For more information about the 2021 Mississippi Invitational, visit