Art shows give seniors valuable experience

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 2, 2007

“I may not get another chance like this in my life so it’s beena very special day,” Mississippi School of the Arts senior JessileeSpecht said during an exhibit of Specht’s and senior Duente Ford’swork at the Johnson Institute Thursday.

The exhibit is a project for senior students to gain experiencein organizing and presenting art shows and showcases theirwork.

“It’s an art show to show what we’ve done over the past twoyears,” Ford said. “This will probably be the last time they seeour work before we to college.”

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Anne O’Hara, visual arts instructor at MSA, said each senior invisual arts is required to prepare and present an art exhibit.Thursday’s event was the second senior show with an additional showto follow each week through May. The next show is Wednesday from2-4 p.m. at the Johnson Institute.

“Most will work in pairs, but there will be some threesomes,”she said. “They have spent a whole year working toward this.They’ve been thinking about it, planning it and visualizing it.This also helps them get their work together to apply forscholarships.”

In fact, Ford is a finalist for a full scholarship to theMaryland Institute College of Art while Specht has been offered a$36,000 scholarship to the Memphis College of Art.

“I probably would not have known about the school to begin withbefore MSA,” Ford said. “Now I’m very confident about myskills.”

Specht said her scholarship opportunities are also catching heroff guard.

“That was a big surprise to me,” Specht said. “I had never hadan art class before coming here. It’s very encouraging. I’m veryconfident with myself and the improvement I’ve had.”

The school has had a tremendous amount of influence on her art,Ford said.

“It’s being able to do what you want to do. None of this isavailable where I’m from,” the Mendenhall native said. “It’s agreat experience.”

Two artists took different approaches to their presentations.Ford used the exhibit to showcase a variety of skills she learnedat MSA.

“I spent a lot of time trying to focus on something that wasdifferent,” she said. “This was unlike my regular work.”

Specht, of Horn Lake, decided to showcase the improvement in hertalents while holding to a central theme.

“I’m absolutely fascinated by the human body. It’s verycomplex,” she said. “I have different meanings for all (of mypieces). I try to express myself through them. I tried to put somestuff here from last year so people can see my progress and howI’ve developed.”

Regardless of their approach to the exhibit, both succeeded incapturing the imagination of those attending the show.

“I think it’s really impressive,” said Kate Roberts, a juniortheater student. “It’s a really beautiful presentation and thepieces really speak to the individuality of the artists.”

Upcoming senior art shows can be found on the school’s onlinecalendar of events at