Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
East Mississippi Community College invites the community to attend the Pine Grove Arts Festival, showcasing the school spirit and artistic achievements of its students March 23-28 at the Scooba and Golden Triangle campuses.
“EMCC places a lot of focus on helping students learn the skills that will help them take their next steps toward the workplace. But an appreciation for the arts is part of everyone’s life, regardless of what career paths we choose. The Pine Grove Arts Festival at EMCC has been celebrating that idea for more than 40 years,” said EMCC President Dr. Rick Young.
The festival begins Saturday, March 23, with an opening reception for an exhibit of work by DeKalb artist Marie Gordon, an instructor at EMCC. The reception will be at 2 p.m. in the Aust Hall Gallery, Scooba campus. The public is invited to attend.
Gordon works in many media, from metal and textiles to glass and ceramics. The exhibit on display during the Pine Grove Festival will focus mostly on ceramics, and she is known for using local clay from Kemper County.
“I have a friend who works with a backhoe, and he does a good deal of dirt work. When he uncovers clay in Kemper County, he gives me a call and I come collect it. It comes in a lot of colors, depending on what kind of soil you find it in – white, buff, dark red, peachy red, grey, dark brown and colors in between,” Gordon said.
“Sometimes, I work with the clay just the way it comes out of the ground. It may have stripes or bands of different colors, rocks or sand in it, bits of vegetation. When you do that, you get a primitive-looking piece. But, most of the time, I do put the clay through a refining process.”
Gordon says she doesn’t know how other people refine clay. She tried something, it worked, so that’s how she does it. First, she dries the clay completely and uses a hammer to break it into small pieces. Next, she dissolves the small pieces in water and strains the water to remove sand, rocks and other debris. Finally, she pours the “clay water” in a big bucket and leaves it alone.
“The clay will settle to the bottom, and then you just scoop the water off the top,” Gordon said. “When you do it this way, of course, you don’t get the color variations that you do with the raw clay. It’s different. I like both ways.”
Gordon’s work, the M Collection, can be found in small shops in Louisville and Ackerman. She also donates ceramic pieces for fundraisers, like EMCC’s Wild Game Dinner and Auction.
Both the Scooba and Golden Triangle campuses will host more Pine Grove Festival events March 25-28:
• Monday, March 25, 12:15 p.m., Scooba campus: Performance by Music Theatre Workshop students of a play called Hotel Heaven. Curtain time is 12:15 p.m. at the Orr Center, Chapel in the Pines. Wendy Smith, EMCC’s director of choral and vocal music instruction, said the theme of the play fits in well with the Easter season: “The characters are all trying to enter Hotel Heaven, but some of them don’t have a reservation, their names can’t be found on the guest register.” No charge, open to the public.
• Tuesday, March 26, 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Scooba campus: Art and Music Festival on the patio and lawn next to the F.R. Young Student Union. The event will feature a display of artwork by EMCC alumni and a guest artist from MIDD Meridian, as well as a performance by ROAR!, EMCC’s rock band. No charge, open to the public.
• Wednesday, March 27, 12:15 p.m., Scooba campus: Jason Wells, district coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, will speak at an Easter service at the Chapel in the Pines. The service will also include a performance by EMCC’s Reflection Singers. Following the service, at about 1 p.m., EMCC will host a reception for featured artist Marie Gordon in Aust Hall. No charge, open to the public.
• Thursday, March 28, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Golden Triangle campus: EMCC students and employees invite the public to share in the Pine Grove Festival in Mayhew. It starts with an opening ceremony at 11 a.m., followed by musical entertainment on the main stage. Booths will sell sweets to support campus organizations and display artwork. There will be games and food. The event will also include an active art project. All events will happen around the pond on back campus. No charge.
For more information about the Pine Grove Arts Festival, call Kate Neely McCarty at the Scooba campus, (662) 476-5035 or Jackie Savage at the Golden Triangle campus, (662) 243-1929.