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Academics

Art faculty exhibit to open Sept. 28

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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.

Dept. of Music to host traditional Korean musicians

By | Academics, Bologna Performing Arts Center, College of Arts and Sciences, Community | No Comments
Left to right, Dr. Jiyoon Kim, Yoon Jeong Bae and Eunhye Jang

The Delta State Department of Music will host “In the Beauty of Gugak: Korean Traditional Music,” Sept. 26-28, featuring three performers of Korean traditional music, Dr. Jiyoon Kim, Yoon Jeong Bae and Eunhye Jang.

The program will include a workshop for Delta State woodwind students on Sept. 26, a lecture on Korean traditional music and instruments on Sept. 28, and evening recitals on Sep. 26 and Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. These lecture and recitals, all held at the Bologna Performing Arts Center Recital Hall, are free and open to the public.

“In the Beauty of Gugak” is sponsored by the Department of Music and the DSU Quality Enhancement Plan.

Dr. Jiyoon Kim is a Certified Apprentice of Korean National Intangible Cultural Heritage 46 Piri Jeongak & Daechwita, and the first Ph.D. in the field of Piri, a Korean traditional woodwind instrument. She distinguished herself as a performer by winning awards in various competitions such as the Dong-A Korean Traditional Music Concours and the Chun-Hyang Korean Traditional Music Contest. As an artist from Art & Culture Management CloudPoseidon, she has received both critical and public acclaim through solo performances such as “Cloud Way,” “Scent of gratitude,” “Wind blowing from the East,” and “Harmony.” She has also been invited to perform at concerts organized by the National Gugak Center in Seoul, Busan and Jeollanam-do. Since she won the Korean Association of Critics Special Award in 2015, she has internationally publicized Korean Traditional Music by performing in Yakutia White Night International Music Festival; TNB International Music Festival in Brno, Czech Republic; the Composers Festival of Krokow, Poland; and Dolby Concert in USA. She is CEO of Sound Research Association Sori Soop and Music Director of Hecabe SE Company. She has earned her bachelor’s, master’s,and docroral degrees at the Department of Music of Seoul National University. A former lecturer at Seoul National University and Ehwa Womans University, she currently teaches at Dankook University and Chugye University for the Arts in South Korea. She will present solo works for piri and collaborate with DSU music faculty members at the recital.

Yoonjeong Bae, who will present a Gayageum performance at the Tuesday recital, graduated from Korean Traditional Cultural High School in Busan. She is currently attending Busan National University. She has performed with the Youth Orchestra of the Busan National Gugak Center and has been selected as Young Artist by Art & Management CloudPoseidon to perform ‘Tradition n Trend.’

Also featured in the Tuesday recital, Eunhye Jang, has played Haegeum, a Korean traditional string instrument, since 2012 when she was 13 years old. She graduated from the National High School of Traditional Arts in Korea and currently attends the Korea National University of Arts (K’Arts). She participated in Korea-Germany Electromobility Forum (2015), and K’Arts’ ‘2017 Sound from Spring’ and ‘Soul.’ She has also been selected as Young Artist by Art & Management CloudPoseidon to perform ‘Tradition n Trend.’

For more information about the program, contact the Department of Music at 662-846-4615 or visit http://www.deltastate.edu/artsandsciences/music/events/ .

Delta State enrollment increases over five percent

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For the fourth year in a row, Delta State University is proud to announce an increase in university enrollment.

The preliminary numbers, as of Sept. 8, were 3,035 undergraduate students and 743 graduate students, for a total enrollment of 3,778. The increase of nearly 5.5 percent was the largest increase among the state’s eight public universities this year.

According to Delta State University President William N. LaForge, the growth is due to a number of major institutional efforts.

“I am very pleased with the increase in enrollment for the fall of 2017,” said LaForge. “Early reports indicate we are up 190 students, or nearly 5.5 percent over last year. This significant uptick represents the fourth consecutive increase, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

LaForge credited six major reasons for the enrollment increase:

  • A great team of faculty and staff across campus.
  • Smarter and more targeted recruiting in high schools and community colleges. This includes doubling community college recruiters, and increasing partnerships with high schools.
  • Improved retention rates thanks to engaged faculty and programs such as the Student Success Center and First Year Seminar.
  • Signature programs that continue to attract more students, including the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing, Delta Music Institute, Health/Physical Education/Recreation, and Aviation.
  • Doubling the number of international students in the last three years.
  • Offering a competitive tuition rate with stellar academics, including capstone projects for every major — all at an unparalleled value.

“I would be remiss not to mention that we have a welcoming student environment,” added LaForge. “Students feel very welcomed here and have the total college experience. There’s a buzz on campus, and there’s excitement all around.”

Caitlyn Thompson, director of recruiting, said recruitment efforts have focused on directly communicating with potential students.

“The recruiting staff worked very hard over this past year to reach new students, and one effort that may have contributed to the enrollment increase is the E-Communication Center that was implemented last fall,” said Thompson. “Current Delta State students contacted prospective students to speak with them about topics like campus events, scholarships, admissions deadlines, application reminders and more.”

Tricia Walker, director of the Delta Music Institute, said the DMI program has experienced significant growth over the past few years.

“The sustained growth of the DMI program brought the opportunity to add a faculty member and a studio manager to our ranks in order to better serve our students,” said Walker. “We are grateful to the administration for their support of this unique program. With an incoming class of more than 30 new students this fall, the DMI will exceed 120 majors in our entertainment industry studies program. We are packed and we like it that way.”

Tim Colbert, chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, said HPER is one of the fastest growing majors.

“HPER has good degree options in multiple areas that lead not just to employment, but also sustainable careers with a chance for advancement,” said Colbert. “Our faculty understand how to relate to students on a personal level and help them to deal with their issues to become successful.”

Additionally, Delta State saw another uptick this year in the number of international students. Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of the Student Success Center and International Student Services, is proud that the university has doubled its international student body since the spring of 2013.

“We love that our international student population is growing each year,” said Riddle. “International students contribute so much to campus because of their global perspectives and diverse cultures. We welcome them to Delta State and look forward to even more international students for years to come.

Follow all Delta State news at www.deltastate.edu.

King sculpture pays heartfelt tribute to Schmidt

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Visitors to downtown Cleveland are enjoying the recent expansion of Delta State’s Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden with five new installations along Sharpe Avenue.

One sculpture holds special meaning thanks to the creative work of recent Delta State graduate Lawson King ’17, an art major originally from Indianola.

His 8-foot steel and recycled rope sculpture “Broken Arrow” stands tall in dedication to former Delta State professor Dr. Ethan Schmidt, who fatally fell victim to gun violence in 2015.

“I dedicated the piece to him because his shooting caused me to react — caused me to respond to the traumatic experience,” said King. “The more I found out about the shooting, the more I felt connected to it.”

King found many similarities to the incident after his father was killed in a shooting at the age of three. King also taught with Schmidt’s wife at a local elementary school through his participation in the Delta Arts Alliance’s artist-in-residence program.

“It was personal for me to create this piece, but I also wanted to do it for Ethan’s wife and his kids,” said King. “I wanted to show them that I was three when my father was killed, and I think I turned out alright.”

Michael Stanley, chair of the Delta State Department of Art, was thrilled with King’s dedication, noting that he was the first student/alumni to have work displayed in the sculpture garden.

“Lawson’s piece is a very powerful tribute to Dr. Ethan Schmidt because he elegantly intertwines a number of very complicated ideas into one sculpture,” said Stanley. “The broken arrow is a symbol that represents peace and also refers to Ethan’s expertise in Native American history. It’s also a direct reaction to the events that took place the day of the shooting. Instead of using an image of violence, Lawson chose an image of peace, which is much more powerful in my opinion.”

The sculpture garden has developed into an iconic element of Delta State’s campus, and it has shown growth in recent years while expanding across the university, to the grounds of GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi, and downtown Cleveland.

Judson Thigpen, executive director of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, said the sculpture garden’s development continues to forge the town-gown relationship.

“The sculptures are a continuation of the Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden at Delta State into the community,” said Thigpen. “It’s an added treasure that one of the sculptures is dedicated to the life of Ethan Schmidt and the lives he touched while here.”

Stanley agreed that the expansion of the sculpture garden strengthens the partnership between the university and the city of Cleveland.

“We cannot survive without the other, and this is a wonderful display of cooperation and a great visual reminder of this unique relationship,” he said.

Public sculpture was a big reason King pursued his art degree, as he felt public art was lacking in his hometown. The facilities in the art department make it possible for students to create large-scale public works.

King said it was an incredible honor to be selected in the first group of downtown sculptures.

“It feels like such a big accomplishment for me,” he said. “It’s awesome to be included with super talented sculptors from across the country. Just to be accepted and be among them in the first round of downtown sculptures — it means a whole lot to me.”

Learn more about the Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden at http://thesculpturegardenms.com/.

Fighting Okra Records releases new compilation CD

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Delta Music Institute, Students | No Comments

Fighting Okra Records, a student-run record label housed in the Delta Music Institute entertainment industry program at Delta State University, recently released its third compilation CD project, “Fighting Okra: Round 3,” featuring 17 tracks of original music either written, produced or recorded by DMI students.

The new Fighting Okra project was the culmination of a senior project by DMI graduate Jarrick Finkley during the fall of 2015. In a continuing effort to expose the music of DMI students to the campus and community, Finkley decided to assemble a third compilation CD to expose the depth of talent of DMI students.

“Fighting Okra: Round 3” contains 17 original works representing a wide range of genres including hip-hop, gospel, alternative, R&B, dub step, rock, metal, and country. The songs on the project were written, produced, engineered or performed by current DMI students and alumni, with Finkley serving as executive producer. Songs on the CD were selected by Finkley after multiple screenings and were chosen on the basis of lyrical content and recording quality.

“I loved working on Fighting Okra Round 3,” said Finkley, a native of Vicksburg. “It was a big challenge, but the project allowed me to learn so much within a cooperative work situation. I am grateful to every student artist and engineer who contributed their awesome gifts and talents to this project.”

DMI Director Tricia Walker served as the faculty advisor for the project.

“The lessons students like Jarrick learn in working on a real-world project like this are invaluable,” said Walker. “I’m very proud of what he’s put together on this CD. It really does represent the breadth and depth of the talent coming out of DMI.”

Copies of the CD will be available for purchase in the main office of the DMI on campus and online at www.fightingokrarecords.com. For more information on the album or the FOR label, contact the DMI at 662-846-4579 or visit www.fightingokrarecords.com.

The DMI is an independent center of study under the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State, offering a bachelor’s degree in entertainment industry studies. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For information, contact 662-846-4579 or visit http://dmi.deltastate.edu.