Painting Captures Essence of Mississippi College History
October 11, 2013
Christopher Brady’s large painting seeks to capture the essence of Mississippi College’s venerable history and depict Clinton campus landmarks like Provine Chapel.
The Mississippi artist utilized 600 aging photos gleaned from “Tribesman” yearbooks and the MC archives in his new painting bringing the college’s story to life.
To be unveiled at Nelson Hall during Homecoming on October 26, the artwork also is designed to give people a glimpse of what the future holds for the 188-year-old Baptist-affiliated institution.
“I hope that people will understand how the intricate structure of the piece is reflective of the complexity of MC’s past, present and future,” says Brady, who devoted more than three months to the project.
“We have all contributed to the vibrant and dynamic history of Mississippi College and each individual is a distinct and integral element of the total structure.”
A 1995 Mississippi College graduate where he served as editor of the “Arrowhead,” the school’s literary magazine and president of Sigma Tau Delta, Brady is an award-winning artist who’s newest work is the cornerstone of the Christian university’s History Project.
The 11 a.m. ceremony that Saturday will display the 54-inch by 147 inch painting for the first time. Open to the public, the event will bring together President Lee Royce and other MC supporters to showcase Brady’s artwork.
His work is titled E Pluribus…
“It is a large, mixed media, sculptural, installation painting – it is not easily categorized,” Brady said.
Wooden blocks “create a rhythmically pulsating geometric grid upon which over 600 photographs are collaged,” the Jackson native said. “These images depict the people, events and places that comprise Mississippi College’s rich and voluminous history.”
A palette of acrylic paint creates an image of the Quad that stretches between MC’s oldest building, Provine Chapel, which opened in 1860 to Nelson Hall that dates back to 1948. During the outbreak of the Civil War, the chapel was converted into a hospital for the wounded troops of U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant.
The two structures, he said, “represent the spiritual and intellectual centers of the campus respectively and serve as perfect bookends for the panorama.” From a distance, most of the photographs are barely visible. But take a closer look, and a number of pictures reveal MC’s rich history.
“Such is the history of Mississippi College and such is the concept behind this piece,” Brady said. “E Pluribus…out of many.”
Being an integral part of the history project, the Mississippian said, “is a way of giving back to a school that has been instrumental in helping me to become the artist and individual I am.”
An art instructor at East Central Community College in Decatur, Brady earned a master’s in art education and MFA degrees from the University of Mississippi. He and his wife, LeAnne, are Ridgeland residents.
His love for his alma mater is enhanced by MC connections. His aunt, Donna Lewis, serves as the university’s chief financial officer. Another aunt, Lynda Street of Clinton is the retired secretary at the Department of Christian Studies.
Brady studied under retired art professor Kenneth Quinn when he taught at Whitten Junior High in Jackson and at MC. Dr. Quinn, he said, “was instrumental in developing my interest in art and encouraged me to come to Mississippi College.”
Quinn is proud of his former student. “He’s ingrained in Mississippi College,” Quinn said. “He’s pretty much part of this family. And he’s an excellent artist.”
Brady’s future looks bright. He’s held 14 one-person shows and his work has been selected into dozens of regional and national juried exhibitions. His 280-foot long print “Type A” was featured in the 2009 Guinness Book of World Records because it’s the world’s largest woodblock print. The work of the MC alumnus is displayed in collections around Mississippi and other Southern states.
Photo: Christopher Brady, Mississippi College graduate and featured artist of the new Nelson Hall history project.