West Point, Miss., native landscape artist Critz Campbell likes to use cloud imagery in his art.
"For me, thinking of clouds is a representation of both time and location," Campbell told the Jackson Free Press on June 4. "However, it's not about a specific moment in time, but more how cloud imagery is the sort of thing every person has seen over time."
Two of Campbell's pieces, which incorporate oil painting and a technique called marquetry where he pieces together small pieces of differently colored wood veneer to create an image, will be on display in this year's Mississippi Invitational.
The biannual event began in 1997 under the leadership of former Mississippi Museum of Art Chief Curator Rene Paul Barilleaux.
"It is our hope that those who visit the exhibition, both Mississippians and out-of-state visitors alike, will see it as an opportunity to connect with art created by living artists who call Mississippi home, art that responds to issues that are important to our community," says Stacy Clark, director of communications and marketing at MMA. "For Mississippians who view the art, we hope that spending time with the collection will instill a sense of pride in the quality and meaningfulness of the work being created within our state and encourage their support of these artists, as well as artists in their own communities."
This year's exhibition will have the artwork of 23 contemporary visual artists from Natchez, Jackson, Tupelo, West Point, Seminary, Cleveland, Poplarville, Oxford, Hattiesburg, Starkville and more.
Each year, museum Director Betsy Bradley and her curatorial staff invite a guest curator to select the pieces that will go the exhibition. Roger Ward, the deputy director and chief curator, says the person is usually a professional at another academic or museum institution outside of Mississippi who is a curator of contemporary art. Kimberli Gant, who is the McKinnon curator of modern contemporary art at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., is this year's guest curator.
In the process of choosing pieces, Gant ensured that those on display would have a mixture of mediums, types of artists and the content of the artwork.
"It could have been the composition; it could have been the angles," she says.
"It was more an overall feel and connection, and just seeing the work ... that at the end of the day I had a very strong reaction to, and, therefore, hoped that other viewers will be in similar situations where they will look at the work and go 'Wow, that's a powerful piece.'"
The process of choosing which pieces the Mississippi Museum of Art displays began on June 13, 2018, when artists submitted sample images of their work. After receiving more than 100 submissions, Gant analyzed about 25 of the pieces, met with the artists and conducted studio visits with other MMA curators. Afterward, Gant created the final list of the 23 featured artists.
Each artist in the exhibit was also eligible to apply for the Jane Crater Hiatt Artist Fellowship, which Jane Crater Hiatt and her late husband, Wood Hiatt, developed in 2005.
Only one receives the fellowship, which includes a $20,000 reward to help fund and further their artwork, their study of art and their travel in order to expand their artwork. At the end of the two-year fellowship period, the artist must then donate one of at least five of their pieces created during the two years to the Mississippi Museum of Art.
Campbell, who is currently an associate art professor at Mississippi State University, is this year's winner. He will use funds from the fellowship to travel to France and Spain and to Massachusetts, and maybe California, he says.
The 2019 Mississippi Invitational is June 29-Aug. 11. The Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St, 601-960-1515) is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit msmuseumart.org.