JCJC’s art gallery features Hattiesburg artist, Chatham Meade-Kemp

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2012-11-06 10:00:43

ELLISVILLE – Hattiesburg artist, Chatham Meade-Kemp’s artwork will be on display in Jones County Junior College’s Eula Bass Lewis art gallery through December 7. The William Carey University assistant professor of painting and drawing’s work is an example of what she teaches, according to one of her students and JCJC graduate, Catie Murphy of Bay Springs. She made a special trip to Ellisville to see one of her mentor’s exhibits.
“You see a lot of what she teaches in these works at Jones. She practices what she preaches! For example, she talks about the importance of putting the right or certain colors together where they interact to make things glow,” said Murphy as she points out her favorite painting, an oil on canvas called, “Yellow Painting.”  Murphy explained, “It glows! I love it because it feels warm and glows. I appreciate abstract art because you have to create something out of nothing and it’s a challenge to make something pleasant for the viewer.”
Meade-Kemp has had plenty of experience in the art world. In addition to teaching and being the curator of the Lucile Parker Gallery at WCU, she is the daughter of James W. Meade, who has been an art faculty member at the University of Southern Mississippi for over 40 years and her mother, Myra Meade, taught art and ceramics to high school and elementary age students in addition to being a landscape painter. They often visited many museums and exhibits during her youth. Her educational background includes receiving her Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2004 and her Masters of Fine Arts degree in painting from Indiana University in Bloomington in 2007.
“For me, painting is a moment of triumphant forgetting. When I paint I am pushing hard against the tension of the real – in which love, tenderness and hope are not only mixed with but often overwhelmed by meanness, dullness, ugliness and tragedy – in order to capture moments of pure joy and happiness. These paintings (on display at JCJC) began during a cold winter in grad school when I often escaped to a botanical garden on campus to feel its warmth and humidity. The banana trees and elephant ears reminded me of home and I began to surround myself with that feeling in the studio. A bright yellow painting on a cold, gray day made February not seem so cruel. Thus I began to try to understand how to paint,” revealed Meade-Kemp.
Most of her paintings reflect her “escape” attitude with bright, bold colors on a big canvas of about 6 feet by 5 feet. Her expressive use of color and abstract themes often depict the familiar south Mississippi landscape.
“Here there is no ‘long view’ of the natural world. Instead, one is perpetually staggered by the bright sun and sky and the intense, highly-charged colors of trees and flowers always so close at hand, blanketed by humidity,” she said. “The thrill lies in the discovery of a particular arrangement of forms and in the discovery of a particular color palette. In many ways, I am trying to discover the identity of the painting and how to make it more of what it wants to be as if I am freeing the painting, instead of conceiving it.”
There are several examples of her larger than life paintings on display such as, “Farewells,” “Red Rhythms,” “Abstraction Green & Orange,” and “Overjoyed.” They are all bound to brighten any gloomy autumn feelings. Mixed amongst the larger oil and oil pastel paintings, Meade-Kemp’s familiar abstract trademark is seen in her smaller paintings too, like “Natchez Blues and NOLA B&B.”
“It is my hope that the paintings are like a long walk in this environment where one is, at times, overwhelmed by the sensations of light and color, but it is the overall impact of the experience that one remembers,” said Meade-Kemp. “What interests me in painting is composing an entire world made of fragments – a patch of light here, the suggestion of a color or a shape there –that flow together in a way that is not always “logical” temporally or spatially.”
Perhaps one of Meade-Kemp’s favorite paintings is named with her husband, Ed in mind: “Thinking of Ed.” Visitors however may have a harder time narrowing down their favorite painting with so many vibrant examples to choose from. The JCJC art show is free and open to the public from Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. through 3 p.m., and Fridays, 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. For more information call 601-477-4148.


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