Southside Gallery is currently showing “Messy,” a body of work by Ole Miss alumna Ansley Givhan, for its September exhibition. Givhan graduated from Ole Miss in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree and works now as a studio artist in New Orleans.
“I came to Ole Miss not knowing I was going to be a painter or major in art,” Givhan said. “I had some really influential professors who pushed me, and the Ole Miss art school was a very small and nurturing environment.”
She said she is most visually inspired right now by artists such as Paul Klee, William Baziotes, Henri Matisse and Arshile Gorky. One of her pieces, an oil painting of shades of blue on canvas, is titled “Homage to Matisse and Klee.”
“Abstraction is sort of difficult for a lot of people to understand,” Givhan said. “I’ve mixed a lot of representational (painting) and imagery in with my abstract, including scenes from my studio and my materials, so I hope that some connection to … real life is seen through the show. I want people to be able to connect to the work and see things in it that I would not see.”
The show is a mix of oil paintings on canvas and mixed media works on paper.
In her artist statement for the gallery, Givhan explained that “Messy” is about the process and that the works reflect “a thriving creative environment.”
“This body of work is about process — where the true struggle of image-making exists,” Givhan said in her artist statement. “Formed in the liminal space that lingers between the beginning and end of a painting, these works are a byproduct of my mess.”
Givhan worked at Southside Gallery shortly after her graduation in 2016 and the gallery exhibited some of her work then, as well.
“Everyone was excited about it and came to see it,” director of Southside Gallery Wil Cook said. “This is Ansley’s first solo show here. When she exhibited here before, it was in group exhibitions.”
With a style and abstractions that are more common in large, contemporary art hubs, Givhan said her artwork is not as often seen in Oxford. By exhibiting her work at Southside, though, Givhan said she hopes she can bring this type of art to the community’s audience.
This week’s show falls before the Alabama game, and Givhan said she expects the town to be crowded with people looking for entertainment throughout the weekend.
“I’m happy to be introducing more modern contemporary art to people in the South and people that may not be exposed to this kind of art very often,” Givhan said. “With people coming in (for) the game — (Oxford) attracts a different crowd than a big contemporary art center (does). So I’m really happy to reach a different audience.”
This weekend, the gallery is open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Southside Gallery’s usual hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The show will run until Oct. 6.