The endowment for this Millsaps lecture series began with a generous gift from the Straddlefork Foundation, which is the family foundation of Leila Clark Wynn. Mrs. Wynn served as an active member of the Millsaps Board of Trustees for many years before becoming an Emeritus trustee. The initial Straddlefork gift was supplemented with significant gifts from the Joseph Howorth Trust and the Lucy Somerville Howorth estate in 1997-99. Mr. Howorth was a 1923 graduate of Millsaps from Forest, MS, who was involved in the arts in various ways throughout his life. Joseph and Lucy Somerville Howorth practiced law together in Greenville until she was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Board of Veteran Appeals in 1934, when the couple moved to Washington. She was later appointed as general counsel to the War Claims Commission and also was closely involved with women’s rights issues. She gave the opening speech at the White House Conference on Women in Postwar Policy Making in 1944, and later, in the ‘60s, she was appointed to a task force for President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women. The Howorths returned to Mississippi in 1954 when they set up a law practice in Cleveland.
Michael Ray Charles is the Hugh Roy and Lille Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Painting at the University of Houston School of Art. Featured in the first season of the acclaimed PBS series Art of the 21st Century (Art21), he has had one-person exhibitions at various locations in the U.S. and abroad, including France, Spain, Germany, and Belgium. According to the faculty page of the University of Texas, “The paintings of acclaimed internationally known artist Michael Ray Charles scathingly address issues of identity that concern postmodern art and society. Charles’s paintings ridicule the ‘romance’ of the Old South and black subservience. By situating viewers in an historical continuum, Charles is able to emphasize the extreme nature of racist stereotypes, producing a sense of dissonance as viewers find themselves both repulsed and fascinated by the imagery.”
Art Shape Mammoth is an artists collective “with the mission to enhance contemporary arts dialog by supporting the development of artists and by connecting them with new communities” (www.artshapemammoth.org). Their exhibit in the Lewis Art Gallery featured the work of Ann Barlow, Anne Beck, Margaret Coleman, Justine Johnson, James Lentz, Emily Lindskoog, Maureen O'Leary, and Julie Ward, and, according to gallery publicity, it “explored the mapping and documentation of liminal spaces and time.” Margaret Coleman and James Lentz gave the Howorth lecture, and they also hosted a live aluminum pour.
Holly Harmon has been the Associate Manager of Interpretative Materials at the Brooklyn Museum of Art since 2013. Previously she worked as Interpretative Specialist at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Harmon received her B.A. in art history at Millsaps College and her M.A. in art history at Syracuse University.
Tom Rankin is a photographer and professor in the master of fine arts program in experimental and documentary arts Duke University (where he was formerly the director of the Center for Documentary Studies). Rankin earned his M.A. from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in Folklore and his M.F.A. at Georgia State University in Photography. He is also the author of several books and articles and focuses his photography on the American South, especially people and places in the Mississippi Delta.
Stephen G. Coles is a metal sculptor who explained that his work deals with certain recurrent issues such as “humour, absurdity and identity.” Born in the United Kingdom, he received his BFA from The West Wales School of the Arts in Carmarthen and his MFA from Alfred University in 2010.
Julia Fenton obtained her B.A. from Millsaps in philosophy and religious studies (1958) and studied philosophy, art history, and studio art on a graduate level at The Pennsylvania State University (1967) as well as Atlanta College of Art (1974). She has also studied at Princeton University, University of Chicago, and Emory University on a graduate level. In addition to her mixed-media artistic process, Fenton has also worked as a curator, gallery director, as well as co-founder and editor of Art Papers.
Jane Hammond is an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker who earned her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College (1972), M.F.A. from Arizona State University (1973-4), and M.F.A. from University of Wisconsin—Madison (1977). Hammond is inspired by text and imagery from a variety of literature including but, not limited to, children’s books and instructional manuals. She is well known for the lexicon of 276 appropriated images she uses in much of her work. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and currently lives and works in New York City.
Nick Tobier is a public and performance artist who teaches and researches at the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. He received his M.F.A. at The Milton Avery Graduate Center at Bard College and B.A. in history and art at Swarthmore College, and attended the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Working both individually and collectively, Tobier is interested in the engaging with the public realm through built projects, actions, and lasting partnerships.
Jenny Angus is a professor in the Design Studies department at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She obtained her B.F.A. at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and her M.F.A. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, and Spain. Her exhibition “A Terrible Beauty” at the Textile Museum of Canada was selected as “Exhibition of the Year” in 2006 by the Ontario Association of Art Galleries.
Renee Prisble creates sculpture and installation art and she works in Chicago. She received a BFA in 1998 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her M.F.A. from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2002. Her multimedia approach is motivated by investigation and contemplation of materials. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and she currently teaches at Loyola University Chicago, Wright College, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Linda Weintraub is a writer, educator, and curator of contemporary art practice, focusing on the social issues surrounding environmental consciousness as they relate to art. She earned a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and an M.F.A. from Douglass College of Rutgers University. She has taught on contemporary, environmental, and ecological art practice at colleges and universities around the United States and founded an interdisciplinary arts program at Oberlin College.
Liana Cheney is a scholar at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and the author of numerous books and articles on Italian Renaissance Art, including on Botticelli and Giorgio Vasari.
Eric Rudd is a sculptor and real estate developer for art-centric organizations. As a sculptor, Rudd is known for his innovative use of materials, notably polyurethane foam and robotics. In addition to his real estate and artistic practices, Rudd is also a playwright, lecturer on arts-based business practices, and former professor of graduate level drawing, painting, and sculpture (most recently Berkshire School of Contemporary Art, 1990-99).
Julie Saecker Schneider is a drawer, painter, and professor emerita at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her B.S. and M.F.A. at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and she currently lives and works in Austin, Texas. Schneider is interested in issues of myth, memory, and contemporary politics, which she contemplates through her metaphor for physical memory, dead roses, with work in graphite, porcelain, and terra cotta.
Dorothy Gillespie (Straddlefork Art Lecture Series, Fall 1999) was a prominent sculptor, painter, and installation artists whose most familiar works are her colorful large-scale arrangements of curled aluminum strips. Gillespie (1920-2012) studied at Maryland Institute College of Art, Art Students League, and Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17. Gillespie authored three articles on the experience of being a female artist, taught at multiple institutions (most recently Radford University, Radford, VA), and has exhibited her work widely, nationally and internationally.
Mary D. Garrard is Professor Emerita of art history at American University. She is known best for her pioneering work in feminist scholarship, especially in the Italian Renaissance-Baroque period. She has written about seventeenth-century artist Artemisia Gentileschi and architect and artist Filippo Brunelleschi. Garrard has lectured on Renaissance art, feminist art, and feminist concerns in colleges and museums around the United States.
Audrey Flack is a photorealist, printmaker, and public sculptor from New York who received her B.F.A. at the Institute of Fine Arts, Yale University (BFA), and graduate and honorary degree from Cooper Union. Early in her career, Flack worked in an abstract style, integrating ironic kitsch in her images, before turning to a photorealist style and later Baroque art. Currently she lives in New York City and Long Island and is represented by the Gary Snyder Gallery.