Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor

wishik-fw Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor

Original post from Southern Miss Now. Courtesy of David Tisdale.

From a young girl doodling on her notepad to shaping steel as an art student at The University of Southern Mississippi, Kelsey Wishik has engaged in creative action as long as she can remember.

That creative action earned Wishik, a multimedia artist from Ocean Springs, Miss. a prominent place in the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) fifth installment of its exhibition series, titled “Heavy Metal – Women to Watch 2018” after being chosen by a national jury to be the state’s representative for the event.  

According to a news release from the NMWA, “Heavy Metal – Women to Watch 2018,” set for June 28 – Sept. 16, will feature “contemporary artists working in metal to investigate the physical properties and expressive possibilities of metalwork through a wide variety of objects, including sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms.” The exhibit also “engages with the fluidity between ‘fine’ art, design, and craft categories, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.”


“Women to Watch” is presented every three years in a collaboration between the museum and its national and international outreach committees.

“I feel honored and humbled to be a part of this incredible showing,” said Wishik, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from USM in 2014. “It has added a lot of heat to a fire of inspiration already burning [in me] to keep creating, learning, and mastering my craft and skills, and reminds me that we are all ambassadors of culture, in a way.”

wishik-fw Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor
wishik-fw Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor

The exhibition provides Wishik the opportunity to show several of her pieces, alongside a published statement of her work. She will attend the opening reception to connect with other contributors and facilitators, and speak to an international forum the next day about her work and artistic vision. 

“It’s a unique opportunity to share not only my academic studies and technical skills, but my insights, inspirations, passions, and hopes for future projects and potential collaborations,” Wishik said. 

Reflecting on her still young career as an artist, Wishik looks back at her childhood doodling and the stories and songs she wrote that for her gave life a narrative quality, as the genesis for her success.

“Even as a kid, just walking around, I saw so many things speaking through life, through other people, and through nature,” Wishik said. “Some of these fascinations became content for early work, but it was when I discovered abstract art and surrealism around the age of 13 that I became deeply enamored with creating art, and experimenting with what I was capable of through poetry, art, and music.

“Creating art is how I process and revere my experience. Sometimes I apply it for the sake of sheer curiosity, because studying something brings you closer to understanding it. Other times, creation comes with the sense of purging, that I am letting something go, or even inviting something in.”

Wishik loves all the materials she works with in her art for different reasons, but is most enamored with the steel medium. “Something that seems so rigid, hard, and cold can actually yield to being shaped, changed, and warmed quite easily,” she said. “Working with steel is my humble study of this concept on a small scale. I enjoy being able to apply considerable force to something, and shape it with my intention as well. I get that out of the steel fabrication process.”

wishik-fw Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor


Wishik points to American sculptor and printmaker Lee Bontecou as a role model. “Her work is fantastic and otherworldly,” she said. “It shows great contemplative power and evidence of many years of immersion into her fascinations and self-education of those forms.”

After attending Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Wishik transferred to Southern Miss, where she received several scholarships that included the Fred A. Waits Scholarship; the Trustmark Bank Arts Scholarship; the Thelma Johnson Arts Scholarship; and the William Clark Art Scholarship.

Wishik said USM’s “incredible facilities, which offer a breadth of possibilities in many mediums” and proximity to home influenced her decision to choose the university.

“I’m proud of the work I did at USM in steel, because I really took the opportunity to immerse in the studio environment, and take advantage of the resources of both studio and creative community,” she said. “I was able to explore creative work processes in clay, metals, wood, fabric, foam, plaster, and many other materials. It helped me grow my skills quite quickly.”

Jennifer Torres, professor of art at USM and a mentor for Wilshik, said her former student is “exemplary, full of talent and intelligence.”

“What makes her exceptional is the way she attacks life as a whole, and explores the world without regard for boundaries or limitations that others might impose,” Torres said. “She is such a shining light and great example of what we wish for all our students to be, as well as a great ambassador for our program and the University as a whole.”

For Wishik, art isn’t contained on a canvas or in a studio – it’s everywhere. “The world is art. The world is in constant flux — a constant act of transformation and reflection of forces at work,” she said. “The word ‘art’ aside, we are creating at every moment. We can’t help it. We interact with our environment and impress upon it through our thoughts, actions, and speech.

“I think when the art process becomes true magic is when we invite it in intentionally. The process of creating can cultivate concentration, develop our emotions and empathy, and encourage abstract thought.”

Wishik’s advice to current and aspiring artists is to avoid artificial restrictions that suffocate creativity. “Focus your mind and intention where there is vastness, space to roam and imagine – do not waste your mind’s capacity on that which is decided for you without exploration or work, including unexplored limitations, doubts, or self-defeating mindsets,” she said. “These are some key truths I’ve found, and applicable in any setting.”

Learn more about and view Wishik’s work at  www.worksbywish.com. For more information about the National Museum of Women in the Arts, visit https://nmwa.org.
For information about the USM Department of Art and Design, visit https://www.usm.edu/visual-arts. 

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MGCCC Jackson County Campus Fine Arts Gallery opens “Seasons” art exhibit

IMG_2015-300x263-1 MGCCC Jackson County Campus Fine Arts Gallery opens “Seasons” art exhibit

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The MGCCC Jackson County Campus Fine Arts Gallery is proud to announce the opening of the exhibit “Seasons” by Mississippi artist Terry Cherry.  The exhibit opened to the public on January 11 and will run until February 22.  An opening reception will be held on Thursday, February 1 at 12:15PM.

Cherry, a native of Lubbock, Texas, received his education at East Mississippi Community College, Mississippi State University, and Mississippi College.  He is one of the Southeast’s premiere watercolor painters.  An accomplished workshop instructor, demonstrator, lecturer, and juror, Terry currently teaches at East Mississippi Community College.

A signature member and two-time president of the Mississippi Watercolor Society, Cherry has had his work featured in one-man shows, group exhibitions, competitions, and outdoor festivals throughout the country, he has exhibited in such varied venues as Watercolor USA, the Mississippi Watercolor Society Grand National, the Texas Watercolor Society, Terrance Gallery (New York, NY), Arts in the Park (Meridian), the MMA Bi-State, Watercolor Southeast, the Southern Watercolor Society Annual Juried Competition. He received the John Gaddis Award in 1993, Mississippi Museum Purchase Award in 1992, and the Mary Jane Whittington Award 1989 in the Mississippi Watercolor Society’s Grand National. He has also received the Ashland Oil Company Award from the Kentucky Watercolor Society’s “Aqueous” Annual Juried Competition.  His work has been selected for the touring exhibitions of the Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky Watercolor Societies. 

“Art has the ability to inhabit the spirit of all of us. Why else do we desire to make it or possess it?  Art moves us or it’s not art,” Cherry said. “Lately I have tried to embrace the eclecticism that has always gone on in my imagination.  Over the years, I have worked in several different media and approaches to making art, but have usually just shown one or two at most.  I strive for unity in each individual piece, but am not as concerned about how they relate to each other.  It is my hope that because I am the one doing them that there will be unity there. “

The MGCCC Fine Arts Gallery hours are 9 a.m. -3 p.m., Monday-Friday. For more information, contact Marc Poole at 228-497-7684 or marc.poole@mgccc.edu.

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WAMA to Host 5th Annual Craft Beer Tasting Event

23154944_785458024983074_6310180869034845302_o WAMA to Host 5th Annual Craft Beer Tasting Event

Community members craving a unique place to enjoy local beer, art and music can attend the Walter Anderson Museum of Art’s annual craft beer tasting event set for 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18. 

Now in its fifth year, WAMA Director of Development Corey Christy said the event has been a great opportunity for the museum.

“People get to come into an environment they might not have considered before and get to check out local beers they may not be aware of,” Christy said.

Christy added that the event was initially developed five years ago to expand the museum’s membership base to a younger crowd and for people to understand that museums are for everyone.

“There are folks out there that view museums as ‘hoity toity’ or something for the upper crust,” Christy said. “That is not what Walter Anderson was about. He created art that was intended to be enjoyed by the community at large, and we feel this event plays into that spirit.”  

The event will feature live music, great locally crafted beer and the art of Walter Anderson. Not only will attendees enjoy local craft beer, they’ll have the opportunity to learn about it from those who make it. Tickets are still available and are $15 each for members and $20 for nonmembers. Tickets can be purchased online here. Participants must be 21 years of age or older to attend.

Christy said the event is a great marriage of arts of all kinds and that attendees will have a truly unique experience.

“By attending the event, you are supporting one of the premier cultural institutions in the state and region,” Christy said. “You’ll also hear some great music and try new brews from local breweries as well as local home brewers. It can also be a good topic of discussion for your next Tinder date.”

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View, Shop and Create at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art Holiday Open House

22218399_1674780182533776_9203585289705593439_o View, Shop and Create at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art Holiday Open House

Walter Anderson block print

Families needing a break from shopping during the Ocean Springs annual holiday open house on Friday, Dec. 8 or Saturday, Dec. 9 can stop by the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.

Corey Christy, director of marketing and development for WAMA, said the museum decided to join with the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce’s annual holiday open house initiative for the first time this year, creating a new experience for visitors.

“We do after hours events all the time,” Christy said. “This year, we’re excited to participate in the holiday open house event.”

Christy said WAMA will have a variety of special deals on shop items and memberships and also activities for children. WAMA is currently running a special “give one, get one” membership special, allowing people to purchase a membership for themselves as well as getting one to give to someone else.

In addition, Christy said the museum’s popular $5 poster sale will continue, as well as the sale of the 2018 WAMA calendar for $15.

Those who want to view the current museum exhibitions can do so for $10. Christy said there’s a special exhibition called Atomic Alternatives, which includes block prints of Walter Anderson. According to the WAMA website, Walter Anderson carved these linoleum blocks during the 1940’s while he was living at Oldfields, his wife’s family home in Gautier. He transformed the attic of the house into his studio, carving images into battleship linoleum. His large-scale linoleum block carvings directly correspond to the period when Allied forces dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, to effectively end World War II.

Children will also be able to create their own block prints at the block print holiday card station.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, the open house will include pop-up coffee and biscuits from the Ocean Springs local business The Greenhouse on Porter.

With art, activities and special deals, Christy said there is something for all members of the family.

“People can come support the arts,” Christy said. “It’s also a great opportunity for people to relax their minds and get away from the hustle and bustle of shopping.”

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Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus Announces 6th Annual Young Artist Competition

The Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus has announced their annual Young Artists Vocal Competition for Saturday, October 28 at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jefferson Davis Campus) in Gulfport, Mississippi. 

The competition encourages vocalists ages 15-25  from all surrounding areas on the Gulf Coast (Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Stone and George County) to try out for the competition. 

Singers must prepare a solo from George Handel’s oratorio, Messiah, to be performed at the competition before an audience. Judges will rate each soloist for vocal techniques and presentation. Winners will receive an invitation to perform their solo with the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus and Orchestra in December 2017. 

The Young Artists Vocal Competition is part of the Messiah Chorus’ ongoing educational program which seeks to stimulate interest in classical music among young singers. The Chorus hopes to instill the tradition of singing Handel’s Messiah in succeeding generations. 

Scholarships will also be awarded to to further their education or musical pursuits as well as complimentary student memberships with the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus. 

Over the past five years, winning soloists have received more than $20,000 in scholarships funded in part by grants from the Bacon-McCarty Foundation.

Interested singers can find more information about the competition, including registration forms, at the Chorus website: new.messiahchorus.org. The final registration deadline is October 6, 2017. 

For further information, please contact YAVC Co-Chair, Roseanne Johnson-Fazo, at 228-243-1209.

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Fall Dance Festival 2017

FDF-17-2 Fall Dance Festival 2017

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The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center is presenting the 2nd annual Fall Dance Festival on September 30, 2017 in Ocean Springs, MS!
FDF2017 is a day of master classes, networking opportunities and performances that celebrate southern modern dance choreographers and educate the MS Gulf Coast about the art of modern dance.
Modern Dance emerged as a rebellion to classical ballet in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Early pioneers of the dance technique stopped wearing corsets and pointe shoes in order to achieve more freedom of movement and expression in their bodies. A new, innovative technique began to form based on both natural and abstract movements of the human body. Modern dance continued to evolve into postmodern dance and finally into what is known as contemporary dance today. With every new generation of dance artists, unique styles and techniques evolved such as free dance, performance art, contact improvisation, release technique, improvisation, dance theater, authentic movement, Gaga, dance on film and many more.
Last year’s Fall Dance Festival 2016 was a great success! We had three dance companies from New Orleans, LA (Tsunami Dance, KM Dance Project and Known Mass) teach master classes and perform their original dance pieces. We also presented Leif Anderson and Summer Baldwin’s first duet together, 40 Years Between Us. FDF2016 also included an Informal Choreography Showcase which featured the work of emerging, southern dance artists such as Vaughn Dance, Selah Arts Collaborative, Delarence Collins Dance, Sarah Pitts and Catalina Reyna.
Fall Dance Festival 2017 is going to be even bigger than last year! Kelly Ferris Lester, University of Southern Mississippi Associate Professor of Dance, will be teaching a somatic-based dance class and presenting two original dance pieces. One of her pieces, People Issues, incorporates dance, spoken word and interactive props, as a way of investigating societal norms of body image, gender, race and major events in America
Sharon Leahy, National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellow, will be teaching a Dance on Film master class and presenting her most recent dance film, Ground Fine. FDF2017 is excited to support the work of Ocean Springs’ very own, Leif Anderson. Leif will be performing an improvised dance piece in the evening showcase and sharing her dance figure drawings in the lobby of The Mary C. during the festival.
Other classes include Creative Movement for Kids with local teacher/performing artist, Summer Baldwin, and Modern Dance Technique with Hattiesburg dance artist, Katie Erin Ginn. The festival also provides a platform for emerging artists to meet and learn from established dance artists with a free networking event (Share Dance Meetup) hosted by the Mississippi Dance Leader Alliance. The Share Dance Meetup includes a panel discussion with professional artists from multiple genres of dance including modern dance, dance on film, ballet and dance team.
The festival concludes with a Young Artists Showcase for dance artists 17 and under to share their own choreography and a Dance Film + Formal Choreography Showcase which features the work of both emerging and established dance artists in the south.
Come celebrate the art of modern dance either by taking a class, seeing a performance or both!  
Buy your tickets today at www.themaryc.org/tickets
Sponsored by: Carter & Jordan Law, Robert & Judie Baldwin and Ron Hall
Presented by: The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center 
Founded/Created by: Summer Baldwin
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What You Need to Know for the Gulf Coast Blues and Heritage Festival

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues and Heritage Festival is back to celebrate 26 years of blues, good food and a great time this weekend.  

The festival will be held on Saturday, September 9 from 12-10 pm at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Pascagoula. The price for tickets are $15 advance and $20 the day of the show. 

The festival features a lively array of southern soul, blues, zydeco, and gospel acts. It originally started in Biloxi, but has outgrown itself and its festival goers to a new location and a new audience. Phyllis Owens, President of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues Commission, says the festival has expanded its interest to host younger blues entertainers, as well as younger festival attendees. 

“It seems the crowd is getting younger each year. And that’s what we hope to do-continue the legacy of blues by including young ambassadors of the blues to become more involved”, says Owens.

Over 1,200 visitors are expected to attend this year, with some traveling all the way to the Gulf Coast from cities such as Chicago and Memphis to be a part of the longest running blues festivals in the Deep South. 

The featured artists this year include: André Lee, legendary Carl Sims, Columbus Toy, Yazoo Bayou Band, Donna Renae, Ms. Charli “Creole Diva” and many more. 

“The festival brings people and families together through their love and passion for the blues and is an important social event for many local organizations”, says Owens. “We hope this will serve as a signature event for the city of Pascagoula in hopes to increase interest in music amongst younger audiences in Jackson County,” said Owens. 

If you would like to find out more information about the festival, visit msgulfcoastbluesfest.com

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TONIGHT: Songs and Stories at the Mary C. O’ Keefe Cultural Center

The Mississippi Songwriters Alliance and the Mary C. O’ Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education bring you ‘Songs and Stories: Live Show’.

This week’s performance will be featuring Chris and Camille Wallin. This country duet couple has made a big name for themselves in the music industry and have worked or collaborated with many artists and bands.

Chris Wallin has established himself as one of Nashville’s most sought-after songwriters. Some of Wallin’s biggest hits include, “Love Me If You Can” by Toby Keith; “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney; “I’m Tryin” by Trace Adkins; “You’re in My Head” by Brian McComas, “Something to Be Proud Of”; “Speed” by Montgomery Gentry and “People Loving People” by Garth Brooks.

In the various road groups she has played, Camille, otherwise known as ‘Hericane’, has opened for The Georgia Satellites, Dr. Hook, Johnny Paycheck, Mel McDaniel, Montgomery Gentry, George Jones, Mark Chestnut, Darryl Singletary and many others. Her song, “All You Gotta Do”, is the theme song for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Dakota.

Chris and Camille will be performing tonight at 7:00 pm and the admission is free. Donations will be accepted. For more information, please contact the Mary C. O’ Keefe Cultural Center at 228-818-2878.

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