Art gallery to showcase realism

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The Wright Art Center Gallery at Delta State University will open a new exhibition, Reflecting Realism, on Jan. 19 with a public reception for the artists from 2-4 p.m. Featured artists include sculptor William Beckwith and painters Charles Carraway, Laurin McCracken, Richard Kelso, Margaret Munz-Losch and Jerrod Partridge.
The style of Realism has remained a steady and beloved approach by many artists and patrons despite new movements in the art world at large. This is particularly true in America, which has always favored and valued Realism from the earliest days of the country. In this exhibition six artists present their individuality within the genre — some work naturalistically in painting style and subject matter, while others paint or sculpt naturalistically as the subject matter derives partially from the imagination.
William “Bill” Beckwith, a native of Taylor, Miss., began his career in sculpture by working in the studio of Leon Z. Koury in Greenville in the ’60s. He later received a BFA and MFA in sculpture from the University of Mississippi. After graduating, Beckwith opened Vulcan Studios, Mississippi’s first commercial fine arts foundry. He continues to operate his studio and also teaches sculpture at the University of Mississippi. Small, gestural female figures as allegorical references to youth will be shown in the Wright Gallery.
Terry, Miss. native Charles Carraway, chair of the Jackson State University Art Department, has exhibited his paintings in numerous venues since the early ‘80s and most recently was awarded a Visual Arts Fellowship by the Mississippi Arts Commission in 2013. Carraway’s paintings of interiors have a Vermeer mystery and sense of silence, which implies a person has just stepped away from the scene or is about to enter the space and break its tranquility.
Laurin McCracken is a realist watercolorist whose work is largely influenced by the Dutch and Flemish Still Life painters of the 16th and 17th centuries. From a training standpoint, as an architect and later as a photographer, he brings a natural inclination to detail and refinement to the subjects of his painting. Those subjects tend to be the beautiful objects life offers, such as flowers, crystal and silverware, clouds, toys or anything which attracts his eye and attention. McCracken currently lives in Ft. Worth, Texas where he maintains his art studio.
Richard Kelso, from Cleveland, lives and works in his studio in Jackson, where he has lived since 1987. He attended Delta State University and was a student of Sammy Britt. He earned a MFA in painting from the University of Mississippi and has taught at Millsaps and Meridian Community College. As many artists who practice, he keeps a regular daily schedule of painting in his Fondren studio, which results in a disciplined and extensive body of work. Represented by Fisher Gallery in Jackson, Kelso will show genre scenes and still life paintings.
Margaret Munz-Losch ‘s work reflects a deep fascination with mystery and adventure. Her vivid compositions observe complex, and sometimes uneasy, relationships between the natural world, art and identity which result often in surrealistic dreamscapes which marry the mundane and the fantastical. As an emerging artist, she exhibited her work in Los Angeles. She also became the director of a mural company during her time there before moving to Tennessee. Munz-Losch’s work has appeared in group and solo shows and most recently she was awarded winner of the No Dead Artists competition at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans.
Jerrod Partridge is a fulltime artist and drawing instructor living and working in the Fondren neighborhood of Jackson. He earned his undergraduate degree from Mississippi College and a MFA from the New York Academy of Art. The majority of his work is done in oils on his own handmade paper, a process which forces him to approach the piece with more awareness and care of painting’s materiality. As the father of three young children, his focus has been on domestic scenes of familiarity which are often overlooked, like overflowing closets, dirty dishes or children playing with weapons. Painting is how Partridge finds organization and tranquility in this world. His works are intended to represent and possibly question the domestic American culture as a whole.
Reflecting Realism will be available for viewing from Jan. 19-Feb. 21. The gallery is open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. For more information, please contact the Art Department at 662-846-4720.

Kyle Educational Trust offers $50,000 matching gift

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In an effort to increase funding for deserving students at Delta State, the S. H. and Dorothy W. Kyle Educational Trust has delivered a $50,000 matching gift grant to provide a major boost to students from Coahoma, Panola, Quitman and Tallahatchie counties.

The grant from the Kyle Trust will match contributions from other donors who elect to create annual or endowed scholarships benefiting students in the four designated counties. Gifts will also be matched to any existing scholarships specifically benefiting students in these counties.

The match will be on a dollar-to-dollar basis to the scholarship, thus promoting a spirit of philanthropy through individuals, corporations and other foundations who care about local students and who aspire to assist these students as they pursue a degree from Delta State.

The Kyle Educational Trust was established in 1964 in memory of S.H. and Dorothy W. Kyle. The Kyles were philanthropists in the Mississippi Delta who believed every man and woman should have the opportunity to pursue an education.

Amanda Borgognoni ‘82, a member of the Delta State University Foundation Board, is the granddaughter of the Kyles and is proud to see the family’s educational contributions continue. She also serves on the trust’s board of directors.

“This grant is an extension of the philanthropy my grandfather started,” Borgognoni said. “We want to continue his legacy and help people in the area receive the education they need to make their dreams a reality.”

The Kyles were a farming family from the Clarksdale area who wanted to support students by assisting them with their educational goals, believing that any student who dreams of a future deserves the opportunity to be successful in life.

The Kyle Educational Trust has successfully partnered with many students over the past three decades in making their educational dreams a reality. Thankfully, family members have long ties to Delta State.

Borgognoni’s husband, brother and mother also attended the institution.

“We’re excited because working with Delta State on the matching grant will allow us to tap into more resources,” said Borgognoni. “I love how Delta Sate is encouraging others to give and get involved. It’s allowing us to help other partners who know their gifts will be matched.”

Hal and Harvey Fiser of Clarksdale have been close with the Kyle family for years, and they quickly took advantage of the matching opportunity. The Fisers heard about the grant from Keith Fulcher, Delta State University Foundation Executive Director, and decided to endow a scholarship utilizing the match in honor of their son Ross.

Ross passed away nearly seven years ago after a battle with kidney cancer. The Fisers, who have also been previous donors to the Delta State University Foundation, felt that the matching grant was a perfect reason to establish the Ross W. Fiser Educational Trust in their son’s honor.

“We’ve been considering something like this for a while, and when we heard about the matching funds, my wife and I agreed this would be a great time to help promote educational growth in our area,” said Fiser.

“This is a way to honor our son, but hopefully it was also lead other people to take advantage of this matching opportunity,” he added. “My wife and I feel really good about this — and we hope it brings in more gifts of this nature.

“The Kyles were such marvelous citizens. They were community people that did a lot for the Delta — particularly Clarksdale and Coahoma County. We’re thrilled to be associated with them.”

Debbie Heslep, Dean of Enrollment Management, said the university would benefit greatly from the matching gift.

“The opportunity the Kyle family is providing for a matching gift of $50,000 is wonderful news to the students from these four counties,” said Heslep. “In essence, we will be able to serve twice as many students as we could before the match.

“The efforts of the Kyle family are particularly notable when looking at the median household income and the percent of the population living below the poverty line for the counties served by this scholarship, as compared to the state of Mississippi. The average median income for these four counties is $22,997 with 31.57 percent living below the poverty line. The Mississippi median household income is $36,919 with 22 percent living below the poverty line.”

The future looks very bright for students from Coahoma, Panola, Quitman and Tallahatchie counties. The matching grant will help increase the number of Kyle Scholarship recipients from the current number of 35.

Fulcher said this is another act by the Kyle Educational Trust that the university is extremely thankful for.

“We’d like for our alumni and donors to take advantage of this opportunity to support scholarships in Coahoma, Panola, Quitman and Tallahatchie counties and take advantage of the $50,000 match,” said Fulcher.

To take part in the Kyle Trust Scholarship Matching Gift, call the Delta State University Foundation at 662-846-4704 or email and discuss your scholarship gift.

To learn about the impact the Kyle Trust is making on those receiving the scholarships, visit



Alums lead Bolivar County

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Walk into Bolivar County Administrator Will Hooker’s office, and he and his staff will proudly profess their passion for the Statesmen and Fighting Okra.

The office of three is composed completely of Delta State alumni — Hooker ‘94 and ‘04; administrative assistant Sharon Johnson Hurns ‘83; and executive assistant Deja Carter ‘08 and ‘12.

Hooker, a chemistry undergrad major and a Master of Business Administration student while at Delta State, has held the county administrator title since 2008. He takes great pride in knowing his alma mater has prepared his entire office for a role in county government.

“Our office shows the result of the product Delta State yields,” said Hooker. “We are walking proof of the product because of our direct correlation to the university. I don’t think any of us would be where we are without Delta State.”

As county administrator, he is responsible for organizing all county affairs falling under the control of the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors. These duties include: budget planning, work projections, purchasing acquisition, cost control, personnel management goals and more.

Johnson Hurns, a Cleveland native and business administration student at Delta State, said the institution is a common ground that has helped the staff mesh well as a team.

“There is a special connection because we all went there,” said Johnson Hurns. “Even though we attended at different times, it’s something that keeps us bonded every day — something that’s common for all of us.”

Carter, a former business and MBA student, said the university equipped her in numerous ways for her current role.

“The classes I took provided the skills I use every day,” said Carter. “The course work was very helpful in the advancement of my career. It’s also unique because there are so many people working in the community that have ties to Delta State.

“There are people I work with or interact with throughout the county on a daily basis that went to Delta State. It’s a great sense of community when I come across former classmates.”

And Hooker said the green and white pride found in his office is representative of the special relationship Bolivar County shares with the university.

“We are very lucky to have a quality school like Delta State in our county,” said Hooker. “I was educated in Bolivar County, reared and retained — because of Delta State.

“We have close ties with the new administration under the leadership of President LaForge. We have partnerships in the making and want to continue to utilize the resources at Delta State to better serve the citizens of Bolivar County. We have every intention in my office to support LaForge’s initiatives. It’s a two-way street.”

The office agreed sharing the Delta State bond, internally and with county citizens, is something that never grows old.

“We appreciate having the university so close,” said Carter. “They provide a lot of activities for the community to partake in, and it’s great having them right at our back door.”

To learn more about the responsibilities of Hooker’s office, visit


Burchfield honored as Employee of the Month

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Patsy Burchfield, assistant to Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs at Delta State, was recently honored as Delta State’s December 2013 Employee of the Month.

Originally from French Camp, Miss., Burchfield graduated from French Camp Academy, Holmes Junior College and Mississippi State University with a degree in business education before moving to the Delta.

“I started working at Delta State in 1988 and I just completed my 25th year of service,” she said. “My husband, Mike, and I have two sons, John and Jay, who graduated from Delta State. We also enjoy visiting and spending time with our three grandchildren.”

Outside of her job, she is active at First Baptist Church-Cleveland, and enjoys shopping with her twin sister, working in her flower garden, collecting cook books and cooking new recipes.

Employee of the Month distinction is given to a staff member who has provided service at Delta State that is considered over and beyond those duties outlined in his or her job description. Nominations are submitted by colleagues on campus.

Each winner receives a plaque, monetary award, WalMart gift card from the Student Government Association, an engraved insulated coffee mug, a free parking decal courtesy of the Campus Police Department, a box of treats from The Sweetery, a parking spot of their choice, two Okra gift cards (one from Athletics and one from a private donor), marquee announcement and website recognition.
For an archived list of previous Employee of the Month winners, visit
Delta State’s Staff Council serves as a liaison between the administration and the staff to provide a formal process for staff to discuss issues involving university policies and procedures and to forward ideas, recommendations and opinions to the president.


Conserving energy this holiday season

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The Delta State University Energy Conservation Program will be in effect again this year during the winter holiday break.

Steven McClellan, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer for the university, announced the news this week.

“Your support of these conservation measures is very much appreciated. We all have an important role in saving energy and should not see this as a responsibility of Facilities Management or Finance,” said McClellan. “It is truly amazing what can happen when we all do our part in energy conservation.

“I extend my best personal wishes for a happy and safe holiday break.”

Campus employees have been asked to turn off all energy-consuming equipment and devices (lights, computers, lamps, radios, etc.) over the holiday break. Building managers will ensure that all interior lights, hall lights and restroom lights are turned off.

Facilities Management will lower building temperatures but will monitor temperatures and humidity levels, particularly in buildings with materials and equipment sensitive to dramatic environmental changes.

“If work requires you to be in your building during the break, we ask that it be during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” added McClellan. “It is very important that you turn off all lights and make sure doors are locked behind you when leaving your building.”

Usage of portable space heaters on campus during the break must meet energy and safety specifications, and lighting in the quadrangle and parking lots, as well as exterior building lights, will remain on but in a reduced capacity.

It was announced earlier this year that Delta State was number one in reducing energy consumption and costs in the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) system. Responsible energy behavior and awareness helped the campus reduce energy consumption by 50 percent since 2006. Lower consumption led to more than $4.2 million in realized cumulative savings.

The cumulative cost avoided by Mississippi’s entire IHL system between fiscal years 2006 and 2012 was more than $42 million. Delta State has participated in IHL’s energy management efficiency plan by performing activities that include reducing energy use over holidays, identifying high priority energy conservation capital projects, developing and monitoring a self-evaluation checklist and implementing a high-level energy management plan.

Saving energy not only saves money but also shows environmental responsibility. Delta State has numerous earth-friendly initiatives including recycling, campus cleanups and the Wiley Community Garden.

For more information on the university’s energy awareness, visit