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Art in the Spotlight - Columbus State University Skip to Main Content
Bo Barlett Center with man sitting on bench

Art in the Spotlight

 Traci Mims with Black Art in America
Blessed Be The Fruit Diptych
by Traci Mims
96 x 96.5 inches, graphite and gold leaf on paper

Traci Mims with Black Art in America

As a part of our Art in the Spotlight series, the Bo Bartlett Center currently has the work Blessed Be The Fruit Diptych by Traci Mims on display in the Woodruff Lobby. The concept for Art in the Spotlight is to showcase some of the best artworks from our partner’s collections and to develop a synergy between these arts organizations that will lift and raise awareness about the creative community. This work is on loan from Black Art in America, whose mission has been to document, preserve and promote the contributions of the African American arts community.

Traci Mims (b. St. Petersburg, FL) currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA. She is formally trained in the visual arts with degrees from Tyler School of Art, Temple University (MFA), and Florida A&M University (BA). Mims states, "My work focuses on themes related to Black identity and being a black woman in today’s cultural and political climate. I also like to focus on historical narratives and individuals. My ideas are often expressed in the form of cultural allegory and social realism. I am motivated by art that has an underlying message that engages the viewer in a way they can relate to."

5th and Brotherton
5th and Brotherton
by Juliana Wells
2023 Oil on canvas

5th and Brotherton

A native of the Chattahoochee Valley Region, Julianna Wells (Cowsert) holds a BFA from Columbus State University (2017) and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art (2019). Currently, she is part time faculty at Columbus State University. Her oil paintings have been exhibited in national and international locations, including the Artfields in Lake City, SC, Sugarlift Gallery, NY, the Salmagundi Club, NY and in Leipzig, Germany where she received a residency with LIA at the Spinnerei. Her paintings and drawings depict the landscape of Southeastern America, and the narratives of the people and animals which inhabit the region. Often exploring quiet moments of introspection in her work, Wells captures the delicate interaction of our environments and inner psychological states.

About the Work There is a history of painting card players and board games. The primary inspiration for this painting was Thomas Eakins’ “The Chess Players,” which is a tiny painting that hangs in the American Wing of the Met in New York. I sought to pay homage its composition while infusing it with a distinctly southern flavor. The dark richness of Eakins’ piece is refracted through the lens of southern life, where the play of light and shadow captures the essence of the region’s atmosphere. The horizon line is placed at the level of the chess board, giving the viewer a seat at the table; we become the third figure seen in the Eakins composition, a witness to the game at play. David, the model in the yellow shirt, is a family friend who can beat all of us in chess. He will watch you make the wrong move, say “that’s okay, I won’t take that one”, wanting to help his opponent to learn even as he proceeds to outmaneuver you. I wanted to capture him in his element, and here he plays his younger brother Jordan… in some ways, David’s role as a chess master becomes symbolic of guidance and mentorship, transcending the board game we witness. As he engages in the match, his interactions with his brother extend beyond gameplay. The nuances of each move echo life lessons, emphasizing the importance of resilience and learning from missteps—a reflection of the broader journey of self-discovery. David’s poised and confident demeanor contrasts with Jordan’s contemplative pose, mirroring the interplay between experience and “beginner’s mind”. Like a smoking candle in a Dutch Golden Age painting, the drag of the cigarette adds a layer of temporal significance, marking a transient moment in the continuum of life.

Art Makes You Smart! with Truth Springs Academy
Truth Springs Academy Students
Georgia, A Recreation, 2023
Acrylic on canvas

Art Makes You Smart! with Truth Springs Academy

The Bo Bartlett Center at Columbus State University has dedicated space in the Woodruff Lobby to serve as a spotlight for our national and regional partners in the arts. The concept for this project is to showcase some of the best artworks from our partner’s collections and to develop a synergy between these arts organizations that will lift and raise awareness about the creative community. This recreation of Bo Bartlett’s piece, Georgia, was painted by the fourth and fifth grade students from Truth Springs Academy. Truth Springs Academy students were hosted at the Bo Bartlett Center on March 10th, 2023, as part of the center’s Art Makes You Smart educational outreach programming. This recreation painting was created during one of the workshops that the students participated in. The Truth Springs Academy’s time in our Art Makes You Smart program was made possible by the planning and volunteering of the Bo Bartlett Center’s Board of Advisors, as well as the efforts of Greysen Strumpler.

Butch Anthony, Ossification
Butch Anthony
2023, Bones, wire, paint

Butch Anthony

Butch Anthony is a contemporary, self-taught artist, maker, and collector of objects and antiques. Born in Pensacola, Florida in 1963, the artist grew up on his family‘s 80-acre property in Seale Alabama, where he lives and works today in a home he built by hand. He is the creator of the internationally recognized attractions including the Museum of Wonder, The World’s First Drive Thru Museum, and The Possum Trot, where his artwork can be admired and purchased by passersby.

In the early 1990‘s Anthony started creating art using various media and techniques, crafting them into one-of-a-kind-masterpieces. Throughout a career spanning decade, the artist has created a specific genre of work he calls “Intertwanglelism”, an ism of his own creation. Anthony attended Auburn University In the mid 1980‘s, where he studied zoology, geology, and biology. While there, he enrolled in a comparative anatomy class that he would later attribute to the use of veins and bones in his art.

Anthony’s original designs and compositions are acclaimed both regionally and internationally. His work has been featured in solo, group, and juried exhibitions across the United States and abroad in venues such as the Akron Museum of Art (Akron, Ohio), Wiregrass Museum of Art (Dothan, Alabama), Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (Charleston, South Carolina), and the Black Rat Project (London, England). He has been featured on the television series American Pickers and his work in publications including The New York Times, Garden and Gun, and Hyperallergic. Anthony was included in Alabama Creates: 200 Years of Art and Artists, a book which showcases master artists from the state, published on the occasion of Alabama’s bicentennial.

For more information and to view more work visit Museum of Wonder

Geri Davis paintings Field of Tulips and Bahama Hats
Geri Davis, Field of Tulips and Bahama Hats

Geri Davis

As part of our Art in the Spotlight, the center featured two watercolor paintings by Geri Davis. These works were on display during the same period as Beyond Go Figure III in recognition of Geri’s impact on the art community and her involvement in the organization of previous Beyond Go Figure exhibitions.

“That which you cannot put into words, you MUST paint!!”

– Philosophy of Geri Davis

About Geri Davis

Geri Davis (Oct. 1, 1939 – Nov. 4, 2021) was an artist, educator, and motivator to everyone around her. She inspired others through her various leadership and teaching roles and she continues to do so now in the vibrancy and the life contained in her artworks. In 1961, Geri received her bachelor’s degree in architecture and art at Auburn University, later receiving her masters of science in Counseling and Human Development, with a focus in Art Therapy, at Troy University. Throughout her life, she served on numerous boards and committees, holding positions such as a Signature Member of the Georgia Watercolor Society and the Georgia State President of the National League of American Pen Women.

Her impact continued in her roles as a founding member and board member of the Gallery on Tenth, the Bo Bartlett Center, and Columbus State University’s Friends of Art, all of which were roles that supported her community and allowed for others to be inspired and introduced to art. Her passion for the environment, specifically her love for flowers, led to the creation of a poster on the “Threatened and Endangered Wildflowers of Georgia,” which was used in Muscogee County Schools as an educational tool. Her vision and fierce passion for art and education is continued with the Geri M. Davis Art Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to aid in the continuation of a student’s art education at CSU.

Cathy and Fred Fussell Artwork

Cathy and Fred Fussell

These two works were featured in the center’s “Art In The Spotlight” section of the galleries and are made by two local artists to reflect the ideas of the Competere exhibition. Cathy and Fred Fussell are Columbus natives and incredible storytellers.

Cathy Fussell lives in Columbus, Georgia. She is a fiber artist whose imagery generally falls into three major categories: regional geography, Southern literature, and American modernism.

Fred C. Fussell lives in Columbus, Georgia. He is an artist and writer whose work focused on the American South and other imaginary places.

Diamondback by Cathy Fussell (2020)
Diamondback by Cathy Fussell

Cotton canvas, cotton batting, dye pencils, thread

“Countless times I’ve traipsed through tall grass and underbrush to reach an Indian mound, and in the course of doing that I’m always on high alert for the mound’s serpentine guardians. Thank goodness some of them give fair warning.”

Chattahoochee Nøkken by Fred Fussell (2022)
Chattahoochee Nøkken by Fred Fussell

Acrylic on canvas

“In Norwegian mythology, a nøkken is a troll-like shape-shifting water spirit that sometimes lures innocent people to a watery death. A similar creature called a “tie-snake” was said by Muskogee Creeks to inhabit the roaring shoals of the Chattahoochee River. Those who venture into the turbulent whitewater rapids that flow along the Chattahoochee here in Columbus are advised to be very cautious…”

Hughston Foundation Art GalaHughston Foundation Art Gala

The Hughston Foundation Art Gala for the Biologically Inclined is perfect for students who would like to unmask the exciting world of art and science. This biological and medically inspired art contest encourages students to create artwork while integrating the principle areas of the national STEAM initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics).

The Hughston Foundation Art Gala for the Biologically Inclined was created to support the national STEAM initiative. The Hughston Foundation Art Gala helps students learn by integrating these principle areas. The fields of biological and medical illustration, collectively known as scientific illustration, use artwork as visual tools of communication solely for the service of education. The production of illustrations of measured accuracy, conceptualized illustrations, and animations are created to enable communication between scientist and author, teacher and student, or physician and patient. Because they communicate subtleties and eliminate ambiguities of language, scientific illustrations are an important, often necessary, element in precise communication in scientific education.

We are happy to partner with the Hughston Clinic to show and support these works.

Hughston Foundation Art Gala 2023

High School
Leah Cook (10th Grade)
Graphite Skull by Leah Cook
Title: Graphite Skull

Hughston Foundation Art Gala 2022

Middle School
Abigail Grace Hayes (8th Grade)
Self Reflection Drawing
Title: Self Reflection
Drawing of a human looking at their reflection in a small mirror that shows their bones in their face.

High School
Hailey Jackson (12th Grade)
Inner Beauty
Title: Inner Beauty
I made this piece to show how I’m growing just like the flowers by realizing how everyone is the same on the inside. I’ve learned that inner beauty is what truly matters.

Hughston Foundation Art Gala 2021

2019 Best in Show Winners

Middle School
Alexiss Latorre (8th Grade)
A clay model of a skull
Title: Chemical Reaction
A clay model of a skull.

High School
Philip Walker (12th Grade)
Starts at the Bones Oil Painting
Title: Starts at the Bones
This is an oil painting that examines the depth of who a person is. The bones represent the structure of the person, their basic foundation and the face represents the emotions that build through their genetic nature and being.

2020 Best in Show Winners

Middle School
Mary Ann Kim (8th Grade)

Title: Won’t Sleep
This piece is based on the idea of sleep, or rather, the lack of it. While I myself don’t particularly struggle with nightmares. I’ve definitely had a few nights where I’ve stayed up until 2am looking at realistic horror Photoshop from Trevor Henderson (artist). I decided to take some inspiration from those photos and use it in myself portrait assignment.

High School
Jakobe Davis (11th Grade)

Title: Back Muscle Anatomy
I decided to do the human back anatomy as my piece for the gala. On the left side of the drawing, the person is more relaxed in a standing position, but on the right side the person is flexing, causing more muscle to show compared to the right side. I did a pretty basic background so that it wouldn’t take away from the piece.

2021 Best in Show Winners

Middle School
Autumn Montroy (6th Grade)
MiMi and Riggs drawing
Title: MiMi and Riggs
Drawing of a pregnant body with drawing of baby heart muscles.

High School
Hailey Jackson (11th Grade)
The Courageous One painting
Title: The Courageous One
I painted a piece based off of the struggle of the Coronavirus that nurses and doctors (have been) are now facing. The flowers are to how the beauty of them being brave enough to help others in this hard time.

Lagrange Art Museum

The Bo Bartlett Center at Columbus State University has dedicated space in the Woodruff Lobby to serve as a spotlight for our national and regional partner in arts. The concept for this project is to showcase some of the best artworks from our partner’s collections and to develop a synergy between these arts organizations that will lift and raise awareness about the creative community in Columbus. It’s our pleasure to continue this project with our partner LaGrange Art Museum to exhibit and showcase work from their collection.

The pieces featured on this wall, highlight the museum’s permanent collection of over thirty works on paper created at the Rolling Stone Press. One of the few hand lithography ateliers in the Southeast, the Rolling Stone Press offered local, regional, and international artists the opportunity to collaborate with master printmaker Wayne Kline. Kline persuaded over sixty different artists (many who had never made a print and were hesitant about the process) to investigate the possibilities of lithography. Together they made 125 prints over a period of twenty years. These two prints are by female artists that worked with Kline and highlight the vibrancy of contemporary visual arts in Georgia.

Mercy, Mercy, Me Lithograph by Stephanie Jackson
Mercy, Mercy, Me By Stepahnie Jackson

Stephanie Jackson (b. 1958), an associate professor of art at the University of Georgia, presents the African-American experience through figurative painting. In her work, she combines culture with an interest in various elements of African-American history. Her distinctive style often contains surreal techniques that speak to the unconscious and the bizarre.

Elvis Prayer Rug by Joni Mabe
Elvis Prayer Rug By Joni Mabe

Joni Mabe (b. 1957) is a native of Georgia; she has lived in Athens and Cornelia, Georgia. She is the creator of the Everything Elvis Museum. Her family home is in Cornelia, Georgia, the site of the Laudermilk Boarding House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and contains both her own family memorabilia and an extensive personal collection of Elvis Presley collectibles and artifacts. She is a Master of Fine Arts recipient from the University of Georgia.

Black Art In America

The Bo Bartlett Center at Columbus State University has dedicated space in the Woodruff Lobby to serve as a spotlight for our national and regional partner in arts. The concept for this project is to showcase some of the best artworks from our partner’s collections and to develop a synergy between these arts organizations that will lift and raise awareness about the creative community in Columbus. It’s our pleasure to launch this project with our partner Black Art in America (BAIA) to exhibit and showcase Alfred Conteh’s Mary P painting from the Two Fronts body of work

Alfred Conteh painting
Alfred Conteh (b. 1975)
acrylic paint and atomized steel dust on canvas
74″x 42″
Mary P (from the Two Fronts body of work)

“Alfred Conteh’s Two Fronts, works to convey the warlike atmosphere under which black men, women, and children exist. The likeness to camouflage that overlays the portraits of everyday people is not rendered accidentally. As black life is in a constant struggle to survive, Conteh recognizes the material circumstance under which black people battle economic and psychological injustice. Alfred Conteh’s portraits feature people he has encountered on the street and in whom he recognizes a uniqueness. The realistic portrayals of Conteh’s subjects delineate the circumstances of black life as more than merely theoretical, as scholarship on the condition of the people might suggest; their conditions are existential. While these are no more than portraits of everyday people, Conteh uses technique and style to suggest that there is conversation to be had underlying what the viewer can readily see. As far as portraits go, his execution is masterful, but as far as our perception goes, it is up to the viewer to viscerally experience the exchange.”

– Shantay Robinson

Najee and Seteria Dorsey have cultivated a passion for collecting art and objects of cultural and aesthetic value while building the international brand of Black Art In America. Black Art In America is the leading online portal and multi-faceted media company focused on African-American Art. The Dorsey collection to date consists of over 400 works in various mediums and genres by both legacy and leading contemporary artists. Lending works from the collection for public exhibition is a way of furthering Najee and Seteria’s mission as a family and company to document, preserve and promote the contributions of the African American arts community.

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