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Jennifer Farish

Art faculty exhibit to open Sept. 28

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Community | No Comments

Delta State University’s Department of Art invites the public to a reception celebrating the opening of its annual faculty exhibition on Sept. 28 from 5-7 p.m.

Delta State’s art faculty are practicing artists, designers and filmmakers who regularly exhibit in venues across the nation. The annual faculty exhibition, held at the Fielding Wright Art Center, offers the campus and community an opportunity to view new work created by these artists.

This year, the department welcomed four new faculty members — Nathan Pietrykowsky, Kayla Selby, John Stiles and Robyn Wall — as well as the return of Sammy Britt, a Delta State retiree.

Britt is represented by a series of landscape paintings that explore the language of light and color to distinguish the different light keys in which they are seen.

Pietrykowsky will show part of a series that chronicles the history of a surreal cosmos called Too Dee. Pietrokowsky draws images from his unconscious, theories of cosmology and various mythologies in the creation of this imaginary universe.

Selby’s work is part of an ongoing exploration in utilizing science and research as artistic media while reinterpreting scientific data. Her interest in the possibilities of using scientific data began with a collaboration with a St. Jude scientist who began re-contextualizing human samples in Petri dishes as literal human portraits.

Stiles, who teaches graphic design, works in a variety of media and will present examples of his collages, paintings and digital work. He approaches collage in a manner similar to painting, considering each piece of paper a stroke of his brush. The subject matter of the collages was inspired by his love of skateboarding and surfing. Stiles’s paintings are inspired by hurricanes which he experienced while living in Florida. Although awe-inspiring, Stiles also sees a certain beauty in hurricanes, especially when viewed from space. With their swirling motion, they remind him of paintings such as Vincent Van Gough’s “Starry Night,” and he approach them with an Impressionist’s brush.

Wall has been involved in examining her personal history of homes. She reconstructs these homes as they exist in her memory. While reconstructing real and imagined spaces, her work acknowledges the fluidity of memories.

Music plays an important role in lives and work of faculty members Ky Johnston and Michael Stanley. Johnston is a practicing musician, and Stanley has created a number of sculptures inspired by music, including the “Blues Man” that is featured in the Sculpture Garden at the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. Stanley, who is a woodworker and sculptor, took on the challenge of making a guitar from scratch, along with Johnston, a potter. Over the last two years, the two have experimented and perfected their designs of electric guitars, a series of which will be on exhibit.

Filmmaker Jon Mark Nail has a simple and effective recipe for making a successful film. “ Step one — place the audience into the characters’ immediate dilemma. Step two —complicate further. Step three — repeat step two until you reach the conclusion, i.e. somebody gets kissed, somebody gets killed, beautiful sunset, etc. Step  fours — fade to black. Cue the music. Hit the lights. Clean up the popcorn,” said Nail. His work will also be projected at the show.

Michaela Merryday has been taking furniture making classes the past two years. The amount of wood waste produced in the process inspired Merryday to recycle the material into small functional objects such as lamps and jewelry. The work presented combines her interest in minimalist design and sustainability.

Mollie Rushing is a textile artist whose quilts use pattern and color to create the illusion of texture and space. A selection of her textiles will be included in the exhibit.

Over the past year, Kim Rushing has been testing his personal limits with a photographic tool that is accessible to almost everyone — a cell phone camera. While the cell phone camera has its limits, especially compared to the sophisticated equipment Rushing usually works with, he has been exploring its unique possibilities.

The exhibit will be viewable until Oct. 26. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information, contact the Department of Art at 662-846-4720. Join the department email list to receive regular updates on upcoming events, or follow the department on Facebook.

Campus update from President William N. LaForge

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Happy Birthday to the Ol’ School We Love Best!  It’s Delta State’s 92nd anniversary!  On September 15, 1925, Delta State Teachers College opened for business.  So, here’s to another great year as we march toward our centennial celebration in 2025!

With a month already under our belt into the new academic year, it is my pleasure to report that we have started the fall semester with a high-spirited campus climate and several points of great news.  There is a distinct “buzz” of excitement on campus as we begin what promises to be a super year.  From the hustle and bustle around the Union due to the temporary relocation of the dining hall, to new and exciting student activities, to the major construction projects underway on campus, to two season-opening football victories, Delta State is teeming with excitement.  New students are choosing Delta State because they see our momentum, our quality programs, and our fun and welcoming environment.  And, we have the stats and some terrific news to back it up.

  • Delta State’s fall 2017 enrollment is up 201 students over last year’s numbers, bringing our fall total to 3,789 students.  That represents a 5.66% increase in one year, and our fourth consecutive year of increased enrollment.  It is also the highest percentage increase in enrollment of all eight public universities in the state this year.  In the area of retention, we experienced a 6% increase in the retention of freshmen students over the last year, and a 14.8% increase over the last three years.  Credit and thanks are due to many DSU family members and campus enterprises — our faculty and staff; our Enrollment Management Office and recruiters; our Student Success and First Year Seminar programs; our “growth areas” on campus, including Delta Music Institute, Aviation, Nursing, and Health, Physical Education, and Recreation; our international student program; and, our student life programming that is creating a welcoming and engaging campus environment for our students.
  • As it turns out, we are great conservationists in addition to being smart budgeteers.  I am pleased to report that we saved a total of $163,724 for the months of May – August, 2017, as a result of the university’s summer utility savings program.  We had budgeted conservatively and expected savings of $96,000.  We exceeded that goal by $67,724.  These savings, realized mostly from reduced HVAC/electricity costs, helped us offset the state budget cuts, so that we could avoid laying off any employees or closing any campus programs.  The summer utility savings program was successful because of campus-wide support from faculty, staff, administrators, and students alike, and I extend my thanks to all.  This project was led by our CFO, Mr. Jamie Rutledge, with great advice and assistance by our Facilities Management Director, Mr. Jeff Barkman, and his outstanding staff. The program included the closure of some buildings and prudent temperature control in all others, plus the move to a four-day, ten hour per day workweek from mid-May through early August, with key university units remaining open on Fridays.  We intend to continue this energy-saving and cost-saving program next year.  Once again, I thank the Delta State family for helping us conserve and be frugal in these challenging budget times.
  • This year’s Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Program will feature Dr. Rod Paige, former United States Secretary of Education, on Tuesday, October 10thin Jobe Auditorium, and Mr. Fred Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx, on Wednesday, March 21st.  Please plan to attend these lectures, and encourage students to do so as well.
  • Dr. Temika Simmons has been selected to head the university’s new Local Government Leadership Institute that will help provide guidance to Delta municipal and county leaders on effective methods of governance.  This community outreach program, funded by grants from private foundations, will be headquartered in the Center for Community and Economic Development complex on College Avenue, and will begin operation this fall.  Special thanks to the Hearin Foundation and Casey Family Foundation for their partnership and support.
  • Senior Finance major, Juwan Burney, a star member of Delta State’s baseball team, and Chair of the Delta State Student- Athlete Advisory Committee, has been appointedby the NCAA as a member of the Division II National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representing the Gulf South Conference.  He joins other student-athlete leaders from around the country in providing student representation and perspectives in NCAA decision-making.

I am very grateful to our campus team — faculty, staff, and administrators — for your commitment to Delta State, and for making this the best year ever!  Onward and upward!

Very best regards,

Bill LaForge

President

Fourth blues conference to feature Aaron Neville

By | Community, Delta Center, Faculty/Staff, International Delta Blues Project, President, Students | No Comments

The fourth annual International Conference on the Blues at Delta State University is shaping up to be the best yet. This year’s lineup features GRAMMY winner Aaron Neville and has a two-part theme: Mississippi Delta native John Lee Hooker’s centennial birthday celebration in conjunction with GRAMMY Museum Mississippi and an exploration of ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax’s collection of Mississippi Delta blues and gospel recordings.

The conference is scheduled for Oct. 1-3.

The unique symposium brings together blues scholars, historians and fans from all over the United States in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, a place known as the epicenter of blues music and history.

To register for the conference, visit https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ee79rfch3347d1e5&oseq=&c=&ch=. CEU credit is available for educators.

Among the highlights for this year’s schedule are:

  • an opening reception and tour of the John Lee Hooker exhibit at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi
  • a keynote breakfast featuring Alan Lomax scholar, Dr. John Szwed of Columbia University, New York City
  • a free, open-to-the-public John Lee Hooker tribute concert at Bolivar County Courthouse in downtown Cleveland featuring a trio of the next generation of great bluesmen, Jontavious Willis, Marquise Knox and Kingfish Ingram
  • an open mic “Blues in the Round” event at Mississippi Grounds coffee shop in downtown Cleveland
  • a lunch conversation with Aaron Neville
  • a blues-related film festival in the Sanders Theater at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi
  • a presentation by renowned blues photographer Dick Waterman
  • free admission to GRAMMY Museum Mississippi with paid conference registration
  • a closing concert performance by Aaron Neville at Delta State’s Bologna Performing Arts Center with tickets ranging from $25-$50 and a special 10 percent discount for conference registrants

“As the academic center of the Delta blues, Delta State is proud to host and sponsor this year’s blockbuster blues conference,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge. “With all the superb programming that is scheduled, this conference will not disappoint and is one not to be missed.”

In addition, the conference will announce a project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts that will bring Alan Lomax’s collection of Mississippi recordings back home to the region in partnership with the Association for Cultural Equity at Hunter College.

As part of celebrating this exciting new partnership, the conference will feature keynote speaker Dr. John Szwed. Szwed won the 2006 GRAMMY Award for Best Album Notes for “Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings,” a box set based on Lomax’s interviews with jazz great Jelly Roll Morton. Szwed is considered a leading authority on Lomax’s life and work. He is the John M. Musser Professor Emeritus of anthropology, African American studies and film studies at Yale University and an adjunct senior research scholar in the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, where he previously served as the center’s director and professor of music and jazz studies.

“We are honored to have Dr. Szwed and representatives from the Association for Culture Equity join us this year to announce our Lomax Mississippi Collection partnership,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center. “We look forward to making early recordings of Delta-based blues and gospel singers available to their families and the communities that they called home.”

GRAMMY Museum Mississippi will be the site for much of the conference, including a specially curated exhibit on John Lee Hooker.

“When the initial conversation began for our museum to be the site of this year’s conference we were thrilled,” said Emily Havens, executive director of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. “Our goal has always been to help give a better understanding of Mississippi’s role in music, and it makes complete sense for us to work with this conference to expand that mission.”

The conference is part of the International Delta Blues Project, which is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Foundation and is based at The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State. The conference is being managed by a team of campus and community collaborators including The Delta Center; the Delta Music Institute; the Department of Music; the Division of Languages & Literature; the Office of Institutional Grants; Cleveland Tourism; Visit Mississippi; the City of Cleveland; and Bolivar County.

Over 30 papers will be presented during conference sessions.

“I always marvel at the variety of scholars that our conference attracts,” said Dr. Shelley Collins, a professor in the Department of Music and conference co-chair. “With the conference focusing on both John Lee Hooker and Alan Lomax, we’re thrilled to have received a record number of paper submissions this year.”

Numerous opportunities to enjoy live music will also be available at this year’s conference. Monday night will feature a free concert in downtown Cleveland by Jontavious Willis, Marquise Knox and Kingfish Ingram. On Tuesday, Aaron Neville will be interviewed during a lunch conversation, and later that evening, he will perform at the Bologna Performing Arts Center. Conference registrants are eligible to receive a 10 percent discount on ticket prices for this special closing concert.

“Jontavious Willis, Marquise Knox and Kingfish Ingram playing John Lee Hooker songs and their solo and original sides is such a great tribute to both the past and future of the blues,” said Don Allan Mitchell, conference co-chair. “Their average age is 23, and their superb advocacy for blues, as especially relevant to modern African American culture, will especially resonate with our diverse audiences. And Aaron Neville — the man is a music legend and his experience, knowledge and talent will be such a great addition. With a record number of paper and presentation submissions for this year’s conference, and a first-rate lineup of both artists and scholars, there is nowhere to go but up.”

Follow all conference updates at http://www.internationaldeltabluesproject.com/conference.

GRAMMY Museum Mississippi presents special Michael Jackson display

By | General, GRAMMY | No Comments

GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi presents a Michael Jackson display celebrating the 35th anniversary of Thriller. Located in the “Current Winners” case in the Museum, for a short period beginning on Aug. 29, exclusive Jackson artifacts will be displayed in honor of the “King of Pop” and 13-time GRAMMYÒ winner and his album Thriller that won the GRAMMY® Award for Album of the Year in 1984.

This display will open on Jackson’s birthday, Aug. 29. It will be open for a short time this fall to celebrate the anniversary of the release of Thriller, which was released 35 years ago on Nov. 30. Thriller is the best-selling album of all time with 42.4 million copies sold. Thriller won Jackson eight GRAMMY Awards at the 1984 ceremony, including Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year for “Beat It.”

The display will feature two of Jackson’s jackets: one that he wore while performing “Billie Jean” and one from “Beat it” that he signed.

The Museum also has programs planned around this exhibit including a boogie-themed family day with discounted admission for families, live music by Jake and the Pearl Street Jumpers, art activities, a drumming workshop, and food vendors to encourage the public to visit this exhibit and celebrate Jackson’s legacy. Other special events will include an education workshop with Benjamin Wright, a composer from Greenville, who conducted hits for many artists including Jackson, and a screening of Thriller.

To find out more information about this exhibit and the upcoming events and to plan your visit to the Museum, visit www.grammymuseumms.org.

ABOUT GRAMMY MUSEUM MISSISSIPPI

Built and operated by the Cleveland Music Foundation — a non-profit organization developed in 2011 — the 28,000-square-foot GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is housed near the campus of Delta State University, home of the Delta Music Institute’s Entertainment Industry Studies program, which features the most unique audio recording facilities in the South. Similar to its sister Museum — the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE — GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is dedicated to exploring the past, present and future of music, and the cultural context from which it emerges, while casting a focused spotlight on the deep musical roots of Mississippi. The Museum features a dynamic combination of public events, educational programming, engaging multimedia presentations, and interactive permanent and traveling exhibits, including a Mississippi-centric area that introduces visitors to the impact of Mississippi’s songwriters, producers and musicians on the traditional and modern music landscape.  For more information about GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, visit www.grammymuseumms.org. For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @GRAMMYMuseumMS on Twitter and Instagram, and like “GRAMMY Museum Mississippi” on Facebook.  For behind-the-scenes access, add us on Snapchat at GRAMMYMuseumMS.