Johnston Gallery Permanent and Private Collection Opening Reception, Feb. 16

February 15, 2017

The Department of Fine Arts at Mississippi Valley State University is presenting an exhibition of drawings, paintings, photography, ceramics, and sculptures from its permanent and a private collection in the Johnston Gallery from today until February 28, 2017.  The Johnston Gallery is located on the Itta Bena campus in the Walter Sillers Fine Arts Building.  A reception will be held on Thursday, February 16 from 2:00 p. m. to 5:00 p. m. 

“The exhibition is unique in the sense that patrons can be lured to relive the legacy of the outstanding talents of MVSU alumni and others who have either studied at the University or have shown their artworks in the Gallery,” said Dorothy Vaughn, co-director of the Johnston Gallery and assistant professor of art. 

Among the alumni artists are Frank Hardmon, Andrew Lark, John McCall, Charlotte Netters, Donald Parker, Spencer Rice (deceased), Terrance Robinson, and Tamika Williams. Other artists include Lawrence Baker, Rachel Ballentine (deceased), Alvin Carter (deceased), Christopher Garcia, Johnnie Maberry, Wallace Mallette, Joseph Pearson, Dorothy Vaughn, and John Zheng. 

“Many of these artists are serving currently or have retired as art educators, administrators, and graphic designers.”

Their artworks are organized in the moderate size gallery to reflect an array of visually appealing form and design.  The subject matter consists of still lifes of fruits; tranquil landscapes; portraits of renowned individuals and persons who share a personal affiliation with the artist; and abstract sculptural figures in clay.  The sculptures, created by Christopher Garcia, are suggestive of reality and thus leave much to the imagination.

Among the portraits are a painting of Miss Mississippi (Afro-American) by Andrew Lark, Charlotte Netters’ painting of Dorothy Vaughn (her former art instructor), a homeless man by Alvin Carter, a little girl lying on a floor reading a book by Joseph Pearson, and a poster of Dr. Martin Luther King by John McCall.  

Brilliant colors permeate many of the oil and acrylic paintings by Andrew Lark and Spencer Rice and the ceramic vase by Frank Hardmon.  In addition, Rachel Ballentine’s ceramic bowl, with its glaze consisting of two-part coloration and a mixture of cow manure, presents a fascinating technique that is unusual in this region of the country. 
The impasto build-up in Terrance Robinson’s monochromatic oil painting of what appears to be a Mexican man drinking from a cup provides a wonderful tactile surface that is appealing both to sight as well as to touch.  

The graphite drawings by Lawrence Baker (a realistic approach) and Wallace Mallette (an abstract approach) and the gesture drawing in ink of an old lady by Dorothy Vaughn are far less aggressive in feeling than the radiant yellows found in some of the paintings.  Likewise, John Zheng’s photographic depiction of a Delta sky appears very peaceful.   Tamika William’s photographic version of unidentifiable shapes stimulates questions that demand answers.

“An expression of appreciation is granted to MVSU’s art students for the great job they performed with the installation of the exhibition, the construction of some simple side frame substitutes, and the designing of labels that were created under the instruction and supervision of Dorothy Vaughn. 

The assignment originated from a Service Learning project in her Freshman Art Seminar class.  The students acquired hands-on experience learning about the preparation, procedures, and requirements for hanging an art exhibit.  The students involved were Torrance Davis, Jerrel Horner, Angel Lett, and Parrishana Sanders.  All of these students are art majors, with the exception of Jerrell Horner who was a former student in Vaughn’s art appreciation class. 

The public is invited to attend the exhibition, free of charge.  The gallery hours are by appointment from 10:00 a. m. to 4:30 p. m. (Monday through Thursday) and 8:30 a. m. to 1:30 p. m. (Friday).  The gallery is closed during holidays and semester breaks. 

For more information, contact Dorothy Vaughn or Ronald Minks (Co-Directors of Johnston Gallery) at 662-254-3482.