Arts & EntertainmentSouthern Miss hosts annual National Juried Painting Exhibition

Southern Miss hosts annual National Juried Painting Exhibition

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The University of Southern Mississippi held its annual National Juried Painting Exhibition last month from Sept. 9 to Oct. 1. On the eve of the exhibit’s end, guest artist Susan Palmisano selected the best of the paintings on display and honored them through an awards ceremony.

The National Juried Painting Exhibition, supported by Southern Miss’s Partners for the Arts patrons, featured the work of contemporary artists throughout the United States. The exhibition is designed to honor contemporary artists, displaying the range and diversity of modern contemporary paintings.

The exhibition also doubles as a contest, as the University invites a professional artist to judge the paintings each year and honor what they believe are the top submissions. This year, the guest artist was Susan Palmisano, an award winning painter whose work has been in over 70 national and international galleries. She is also an internationally accredited professor, and has given lectures in a wide variety of universities, including Indonesia’s Petra Christian University, China’s Wenzhou University and Croatia’s Institute of Art at Zagreb.

Palmisano began the award ceremony by giving a brief overview of her career. She described how each of her exhibits — including ‘Eating Lessons’, ‘Neutral Buoyancy’ and ‘On Being’ — reflected a specific period in her life, especially in how she responded to the world around her. In particular, she explained how her work, largely centered around identity, grew more abstract overtime as she began to respond to issues like eating disorders, mental illness and privilege.

“When I started asking what it meant to be a female in today’s society [early in my career], I was really interested in that idea of identity, and trying to understand the concept of ‘woman’,” Palmisano said.

After a brief Q&A, Palmisano and Mark Rigsby, the Gallery Director for the USM Museum of Art, began presenting awards for the participants of the exhibition. Both Palmisano and Rigsby believed that this year’s show was fantastic, and said they had a difficult time trying to select the “best in show”.

“When I was picking the award winners, I really wanted to represent the different genres within the awards,” said Palmisano. “There are many [pieces] that I could have given awards to, but [these are the ones] that I ultimately decided upon.”

“It’s a beautiful show,” Rigsby agreed, “and I hate to see it go, but it’s been really fantastic.”

True to her word, the paintings shown throughout the ceremony were wildly different. Some, like Karen Kirschner’s “Red Scene”, incorporated bold colors and abstract shapes, while others, like Teresa Jarzynski’s “Reflection with Two Plants”, had muted palettes and photorealistic subjects. But, to Palmisano, they were all connected in one important way: they all were incredibly unique, incredibly strong examples of modern art.

Though Michaeli ultimately won the top prize for “When Demons Run the Show”, Palmisano made sure to emphasize that everyone in the exhibition should be proud of their work, as all of it was boldly, beautifully executed.

The USM Museum of Art is a part of the School of Performing and Visual Arts. For more information on upcoming exhibits and shows, view their official schedule at www.usm.edu/performing-visual-arts/performances-exhibitions.

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