JCJC art students get a glimpse into the dark with artwork from Mary Hardy

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2016-03-21 19:47:28

ELLISVILLE – A display of mixed media art pieces filled with a mix of memories, sometimes complimented with “found” items dominates the art of Mary Hardy whose work is on display at Jones County Junior College’s Eula Bass Lewis art gallery through March.  The Ocean Springs resident and retired Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College art teacher encouraged JCJC art students to follow their instincts during an afternoon session with the artist. 
“What you have to say is important.  If you are trying to please the public or your teacher you are not going to be honest.  My art is intuitive; it is not planned it is my story,” said Hardy who further explained how she personalizes her work.  “I am intrigued by the ambiguity of memory.  The various images I use or recycle seem to resonate with me in that way.  I do not always know why and I have learned not to question, just to trust the visceral need to use these fleeting memories.”
The students pointed out the use of dark colors in a lot of her work with Hardy confessing, “I have a visual problem. I like dark colors and I love contrast.”
She also admitted to being influenced by the quilts she grew up with in her grandmother’s Tennessee home. The featured artist shared a lot of her paintings are a reflection of her childhood memories. 
“They reflect how I feel about life and I how I move through life,” said Hardy.  “The formal qualities of my art training, the balance of color and the strong design, hold it all together. The ultimate goal is to draw you in. I want to create an atmosphere with depth that draws you closer.”
However Hardy explained she leaves enough ambiguity so the viewer can participate and be included in the story.  JCJC student from Silver Creek, Dana Baker said she is an example of someone who is captivated by her paintings.
“Sometimes I don’t know why I enjoy it but I do.  The paintings just seem to resonate with me but I can’t verbally tell you why,” said Baker. 
Laurel’s Megan Livingston, a sophomore JCJC art student said the trees drew her into Hardy’s painting, “Underlying.”
“I like trees and they are not obvious in the picture.  You have to really look at it to get the full gist of it.  There are yellows and dark colors contrasting….I love the painting!”
Joanna Espy of Monticello also found herself entranced by the painting, “Looming.” The graphic artist said, “I think of the remnants of the burned house and wonder about the memories of a different place and time.  There’s something soft, gentle and sad, yet inviting about it.”
The assemblage, “Collection Box” also seemed to intrigue students.  This layered organza printed material organized like a quilt over a wooden structure, reveals items from the artist’s past, hidden and organized in a collection of square boxes, like a quilt.
“I keep a box of found items and I go through it from time to time.  I find an item that triggers ideas and memories to use to create something, making each piece of artwork unique,” said Hardy.  “Building up multiple layers of surfaces, some transparent, to create an atmospheric depth while other areas have a textured, heavy rawness, all are reflective of how memories can float up, rapidly recede and/or surface again, harsh, sharp, unexpected and often transformed.”
Hardy’s education includes a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from the University of South Alabama both in Art Education and a very long list of workshops taken throughout the U.S. and Mexico.  From 2010 to 2013, in addition to continuing her diligent studio schedule, Hardy served as Curator for the Duckett Gallery in the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center for Arts and Education in Ocean Springs, MS. She has received numerous awards for her artwork and for her teaching.   Her work has been exhibited in six solo museum and gallery shows in the past ten years.  She has been included in several prestigious invitational shows and in numerous group shows. Her work has been recognized with grants, fellowships and numerous awards and is included in many noted public and private collections.  Hardy’s work is represented by Carol Robinson Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana and Fischer Galleries, Jackson, Mississippi.  Her work and additional information may be found on her website www.maryhardystudio.com
Hardy’s artwork will be on display through the end of the month at JCJC’s art gallery.  For more information about the JCJC art show contact the gallery at 601-477-4148 or visit the gallery which is open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., and Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.  The gallery is closed for lunch daily from 11:30 until noon.   


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