Local artists share inspiration & wisdom with students

ELLISVILLE, MS (JONES COUNTY JUNIOR COLLEGE) - Typically artists are stereotyped as 'starving'.  However two artists featured this month at the Jones County Junior College Eula Bass Lewis art gallery shared their perspective of that familiar stereotype with students.  Featured painter, Russ Farris of Ellisville and wood sculptor/carver, Paul Johnson of Sweetwater revealed at the "Art Talk" reception that fortune could be found as an artist.

"I was in Gatlinburg when I saw this man selling wood toys and I saw an18-inch tall Indian holding an eagles foot…the detail was unreal," said Johnson.  "The price tag, $18,000 got my attention."

That's part of the reason why Johnson pursued wood carving. He said it was also a stress reliever in college and it turned into a side business.  He told students that his carving tools cost about five-thousand dollars.   "I sold most of my first wood carvings to buy tools," said Johnson.

The JCJC workforce development coordinator said he regretted not pursuing art when he was younger.  "I wanted to be a cartoonist and I just quit," said Johnson.  "I'd like to think if I pursued that I would be painting, doing pottery and carving.  Start figuring out what you can do because if I could do it, I would pursue it full time."

Farris agreed with Johnson noting he didn't go back to college until he was 33-years old.  "Do it while you're young and get your education before you get a family and a mortgage.  Because like in my case, this could be all the education I'm going to get."

Both artists shared with the Design I students at JCJC that they have other full-time jobs.  However, Farris shared, money shouldn't always be a motivating factor.   "If you make money great, but do it for yourself….We need passionate people creating art," said Farris.

Johnson noted he enjoyed watching the reactions of people viewing his work.  "This guy had tears flowing down his face.  You can't get payment for that.  If what you create affects someone, you've done your job."

Aspiring JCJC artists seemed to take heed of the visiting artist's message and artistic style.  Painting major, Hannah Adkins of Lucedale said, "The wood carving is very different and very realistic.  I'm going to look into it."

Two JCJC graphic art majors, Nick Hughes of Laurel and Jamone Ducksworth of Collins noted they enjoyed Farris' style of painting, which was inspired by famous painter Pablo Picasso.

"The more you look at it you find more details in it," said Ducksworth.  "It's unique. It spoke to me because I like seeing art like this because it makes your mind wander all up in it and stuff.  Instead of seeing just one picture, you look close and see more meaning and depth."

Graphic design major, Hughes commented, "I like the range of colors and shapes, the form and figures.  It's different-good."

Farris and Johnson's work will be on display through November 5.  Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.  From 11:30 until 12:00 the gallery is closed for lunch.  Call 601-477-4148 or 477-4094 for more information.

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