To be an artist means to spend time alone, creating your work. The opportunity for us to be voyeurs and peak at the creative process happens twice a year in the spring and fall at "Art in the Courtyard—A Celebration of Mississippi Artists" sponsored by Southern Breeze Gallery and Highland Village. In addition to the many artists painting, throwing pots and sculpting to the music of the New Sound Jazz Trio, Southern Breeze Gallery is hosting the opening The Mississippi Art Colony Traveling Exhibit: Spring 2004.
The Mississippi Art Colony, founded in 1948, has had many locations and incarnations, but the objective has always remained the same: to provide a place for artist-members of the colony to paint uninterrupted for several days twice a year and to generate a traveling show to go to places that don't traditionally get to see much artwork. Artist Terri Cribb of Madison, a member of the Colony for three years, says "you go—it's fabulous—you have breakfast, then you are on your own to paint all day, just having a blast." The Colony runs for an intense five days, with an instructor available to offer workshops, critiques and lectures.
The Colony now meets at Camp Henry Jacobs in Utica and includes artists from many states as well as Mississippi. The most recent Colony featured Jos. A. Smith, professor of fine arts from the Pratt Institute in New York, who has been at the Mississippi Art Colony several times in the past. Cribb praised Smith's instruction because he "tried to offer a lot of suggestions but didn't give them in a manner that made you feel like you had to do it that way. You had the freedom and flexibility to make your own decisions."
The instructor at the colony doesn't necessarily lecture, but may demonstrate techniques that may be useful for the artist. While artists focus on their own work, the instructor makes his way to each one, to talk about what is happening in their work and perhaps even offer a different perspective. Cribb says Smith had "a knack for working his way around to everyone, regardless of their medium, and giving practical advice for their situation." The Colony experience allows artists the luxury of concentrated time to work on pieces. "I got five pieces completed and 12 started," says Cribb. Artists also get to create among other artists, creating a hothouse environment.
The show generated from the Mississippi Art Colony makes its first stop at Southern Breeze Gallery. Many artists that participate in the Art Colony will be at Art in the Courtyard on May 15. Over 20 artists will be present from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., including Sam Clark of Jackson demonstrating sculpture and Helene and Ray Fielder of Booneville making pottery. Virginia Shirley of Jackson will be painting with oils, Evelyne Breland with watercolors, Terri Cribb in pastels, and Byron Myrick with pottery.